When Ollie was around 10 months old I wrote about my Attachment Parenting style and why I liked the theories and how it worked well for us. One of the criticisms of attachment parenting is that people often argue that babies become clingy and too dependent, I’m going to call it over-attached. Personally, I don’t see this as a bad thing. I’m not inconvenienced by my baby wanting to be with me all day. He’s a little boy, I think it’s ok to want your mom!
I thought I’d write a little update about how my little boy is now, almost 18 months old as a result of being attachment parented. In my original post I talked about the 7 B’s so I’m going to recap using the 7 B’s.
Whether you’re into attachment parenting or not most moms will agree with this aspect. Imprinting is really important as effectively what you’re doing is telling your baby that your it’s mother. There have been studies where animals have been imprinted with a different species and believed that a different animal is it’s mother. Think of Mowgli in The Jungle Book! The point is that you need to make it clear, from birth who the mother is and the best way to do that is skin to skin contact immediately after birth. I think most mothers, whatever your style want to do this!
Ollie definitely knows I’m his mommy! He’s at a really cute age now where he sits on my lap if someone new comes into the house or backs up to me if somebody new suddenly appears! He gets sad if I’m sad too, I pretended to fall over, messing about with my nephews and Ollie came running over and cried! He loves me! My sisters then cried because they thought it was so nice, he was smiling through his tears when I picked him up and made it known that I was ok!
2. Belief in the signal value of your baby’s cries.
I can’t stand it when people say babies cry for no reason. They don’t. One piece of advice I would give to new mothers is, learn their cries. They have different cries for different reasons and once you know what they are, everything becomes easier and you’re speaking their language. As they get older their sounds mimic their cries. For example, Ollie’s hungry cry was, “Mmmm Naaaa” and now when he wants food he says, “Mmmm”. His wet cry was, “Errr Errrr” now when he needs a new nappy he says, “Eh Eh” which is making it very easy to introduce the potty because he knows I know what he is telling me.
His pain cry is still a cry! “Aaarrrgghhh” I really do believe this attention to his cries strengthens our bond because he talks to me and I listen. I won’t shove food in his face if he’s telling me he’s tired yet I bet a lot of new mothers try anything to calm them down (that’s not a criticism, it makes sense) but imagine being tired and telling someone you want to go to bed and they say, “Here you go have some cake!” You’d be pissed off, you’d be thinking why aren’t they listening to me!
As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t continue to breastfeed Ollie although that was my plan! I am completely pro-breastfeeding, however, I wouldn’t say that bottle feeding has weakened our bond and attachment. For the first 14 months of Ollie’s life it was just me and him at home in the daytimes so I did all of his feeds except the first morning one, so I think he knew I was looking after him and I don’t feel guilty about bottle feeding.
A lot of women I speak too often say that breastfeeding made their child really clingy and they struggle with separation anxiety and can’t leave them alone. I don’t see clingy as a bad thing if I’m honest. Whenever anybody uses that word it always comes across as a negative. If an infant has made the connection that their mother is the one that feeds them and therefore keeping them alive, I think it’s a smart survival instinct to be clingy! Once they start walking and talking they will start to understand that they can be left with Daddy and Mommy will be back later and everything is fine. You rarely see 7 years olds being carried around because they’re just too clingy, they will eventually understand the world.
I loved baby wearing. Ollie loved it and always slept on me. As soon as he started crawling, he lost interest. He wanted to go off and explore. Some people will say that it will make the baby too dependent on the mother. For me, there is no such thing as ‘too’ dependent. He’s 18 months old for Christ’s sake, I want him to depend on me! If he’s 18 and grabbing my leg when I leave the house I might be concerned, 18 months not really a problem.
Ollie is dependent on me and I like it. He asks me to pick him up when he wants something so I pick him up and let him point to what he wants. He understands, “Have you done wee wee?” and “Do you want a drink?” He points to upstairs or kitchen and I ask and if he nods I take him. This will not create a ‘too clingy’ boy, it will create a boy that feels valued because I don’t ignore him, I meet his needs. I’d happily wear the baby carrier now if he’d get in it but he is too fidgety and doesn’t like it anymore.
5. Bedding close to baby.
I co-slept with Ollie for ages and so many people tell new mothers they’re making a rod for their own back. I don’t understand how anyone can think raising a child will be more difficult if the child feels safe and comfortable. I had Ollie is our room until 6 months and when he moved out he was fine, he wasn’t crying to come back in, he sleeps straight through.
I never leave him to cry himself to sleep. I always cuddle him, give him a bottle and then put him into bed. Imagine what must be going through a kids head if they cry themselves to sleep regularly. It makes me sad to think of what they might think! “Where’s my Mommy?” “Why did she leave me?” “Why is it dark?” “I’m not even tired, why am I trapped in here?” I don’t believe it teaches them to go to sleep independently. They just stop crying because they know you won’t respond.
6. Balance and Boundaries.
I think this point is actually most important to successful attachment parenting. It basically means you should respond appropriately. So if Ollie tells me he wants a drink, I respond and let him have a drink. If he pours the drink on the floor, I say no and take it away. If he cries then I don’t just say aww it’s ok have it back. I give him a chance to drink it and then if he pours it out again I say no and take it. That is teaching him that yes you can ask for a drink and have one but you can’t just throw it, you have to drink it.
So it is really important to know their cries! If they’re crying because their teeth are hurting and you’re saying no and taking a drink away it will not make as much sense to them!
7. Beware of baby trainers.
I’m so glad I took note of this early on. I don’t take parenting advice form anyone other than my mom and my older sister and that’s generally because I’ve asked them something not because they’ve just decided to give me advice! Trust your instincts and trust that you know what you’re doing. I think so many moms think they’re doing a crap job so they take unnecessary advice, do what you want to do not what you feel you should be doing.
Ollie notices when I go out to work now and runs over to me and doesn’t want me to go. A lot of people would probably say this is bad and it’s because I co-slept or baby-wore. I don’t think it’s bad that my little boy doesn’t want me to go to work, he is fine with his daddy once I’ve gone and when he’s talking it will be easier for him to express what he’s thinking and he’ll understand what I say.
I did return to work when he was 2 months old so it’s not a sudden change for him, it’s just that he is more aware of things now.
Ollie is a really happy little boy and attachment parenting has worked well for me, I’m not suggesting non-attachment techniques are bad, I’m just saying this is what works for me!
I don’t regret using any of these techniques, I like having a little boy that loves me. Well, apart from on Monday’s, he hates me and shuts the door in our faces when we drop him off at Nanny’s, an ‘over-attached’ clingy-in a bad way kid wouldn’t do that so I think I’m safe with these methods! Nanny isn’t allowed to drop him off on his first day at school though otherwise there will be a tantrum.