I was lucky before I became a dad to know a woman (Bella) who was very much into attachment parenting, saving me having to read all of the books she recommended.
What Bella explained to me was that in many tribes and in primates, the young are rarely left alone, and rarely, if ever, put down. The young are constantly “in touch”, passed from one adult to another, held, carried, suckled, slept alongside… always in touch.
These young were rarely depressed, nor felt lonely, nor unloved, and this boosted their immune systems, and their overall health. It all seemed so obvious to me that I really didn’t even want to do much research into it.
Hence, there are simple three main tenets of this style of parenting, namely…
- Always carry baby, one way or another.
- Breast is best
- Co-sleeping is best.
And if you’re really dedicated, nappy-free (Elimination Communication) is best!
The rest flows naturally from that. The great thing is that this is also one of the cheapest ways to parent too! In fact, businesses make a huge buck from us doing the opposite of natural parenting. So…let’s take each one at a time.
Always be in touch
Baby’s love to be carried and wearing them in a sling or a carrier is a lovely way to cuddle your baby, all day long, whilst getting on with your life. You can use a simple piece of cloth as a safe sling, and there’s many, many ways to fold and tie them onto your body, many of which you’ll find on youtube… from very early baby sling ties like this…
We invested in a Didymos organic cloth sling (https://www.didymos.com/en/ Babywearing/DIDYMOS-Baby-Wrap- Sling/Coloured-Stripes/) which is still much much cheaper than a lot of pushchairs, and which we’ve used for both our babies, and it’s now a precious heirloom for any grandchildren.
Wear your baby always facing you, on front, back or hips, rather than ever facing out or forwards, which doesn’t do their hips any good at all, and which doesn’t allow them to turn away and protect themselves from any advances coming toward them from strangers that they don’t want to meet.
Later you might get yourself a carrier, such as a which has easier clips to put on, but still lots of configurations to place your growing young on your body in different places (front, back or sides) according to whether they need front cuddles, or can go round the back whilst you do some chores. They’ll sleep, sleep, chat, sleep, or just stare and enjoy the ride! Or sleep. They love it!
Breast is indeed best
There’s SO many books on the subject, and both our children were breast fed to the age of 3 ½ years, and exclusively to the age of 6 months (except Thing 2 who struggled to latch in first 5 months. Due to a birthing issue.. but that’s another very tender story. Suffice to say, after 5 months of hand-rearing on expressed milk and top ups of formula, once she latched, she made up bigtime for what she really wanted.)
Breast milk and its long term health-giving and long term immune system boosting qualities cannot be vaunted too highly as far as I’m concerned… so read the books and support your loved ones to get with the programme.
Co-sleeping is best
“Three in a Bed” is a really great book (that I did read!) about co-sleeping. Did you know that in cultures and countries where co-sleeping is the norm, they don’t even have a word for “cot death”. It just doesn’t happen. Even in parts of the UK where there’s (for example) a Bangladeshi community where co-sleeping is a norm, the incidences of “cot death” are insignificant compared with the surrounding communities. Lonely babies (even in sleep) lose the will to live. They get so lonely, and can feel it even if they’re asleep. SIDS is (to my mind) a result of a society that thinks babies belong in cots. They don’t. They belong next to you. You don’t see puppies, kittens or any other mammal want to sleep away from its parents. They want to feel you there, hear you breathe (it helps regulate their breathing), feel your warmth. And you can feel, hear them, sense them. In your sleep, you stay in touch with their rhythms and breathing, know they’re ok. And you never roll onto them (as long as you don’t (ever, ever) drink or smoke or take any drugs, in bed, or before bed).
As long as you’re sober, baby can safely sleep between you, and even in sleep you sense them there.
For mum, it’s a matter of rolling over to breastfeed rather than having to get up. You might have to get up occasionally to get her some water if she gets thirsty. But it’s simpler. A simpler life.
And it’s comforting, they’re in touch, know where you are and they’re getting enough of you. One day they’ll be so full, they’ll be mega-independent because they got ample YOU time, and won’t act out ad infinitum trying to get the connection and attention they missed whilst young.
And to boot… no expensive cots and beddings, no expensive “monitors”, no expensive pushchair, no expensive extra nursery room for them to sleep in, no expensive formula, bottles, cleaning equipment. It’s natural, and you’re as “there for them” as you can ever be. Right there. Literally. Enjoy!
Written by Jonathan Brown