I never in my life dreamed that I would be that mom. You know, the one you see walking around with babies strapped to her back, driving a minivan (and more recently a 12 passenger transit van), drinking her dairy-free low fat no sugar latte. The one that does all organic foods and chemical free and bed-shares with her entire family. The crunchy mom, as she’s known in the mom groups. Nope, I never thought I’d be that mom but over the years, my parenting style has taken a dramatic shift and here I stand, surrounded by babies wondering if I should switch to aluminum free deodorant in the middle of the personal hygiene aisle of Target.
Now, I haven’t gone as far as the total organic diet and chemical free everything. I still like my bleach and let’s face it… sometimes Chick fil A is a lifesaver. Also, I’ve far exceeded the seating capacity for our minivan. That being said, I still have started moving further and further into the attachment parenting realm and I’d have to say, my family is much better off for it.
Before I explain what I do now, let me begin by telling you where I started. I’m a born and raised Floridian, meaning that I am not only an American, I’m an American raised in the south. You want to talk about traditional western beliefs? Well, look no further. I was raised to believe that children need to learn to self soothe, sleep training is an absolute must, and that you should never spoil a child by running to them when they cry.
I’m not going to say that this is the wrong way to do things, I’m just going to say that this was the wrong way for me and my family. I see a lot of families that live by and love that way of raising kids, and in a lot of ways it does look easier. I just couldn’t do it. I’ve got sever anxiety and a baby crying just makes it worse. I need my babies happy and not crying for me.
With my first daughter I was young and very unsure of my own abilities as a parent. I listened to everyone else around me and let them tell me how I should parent my kids. I had wanted to breastfeed but with a serious lack of education on it and the fact that I had zero support from family I was not successful. On both sides of the family I had doubters. My mother and grandmother had all bottle fed and all I heard from the time I said I wanted to breastfeed was that I was never going to be able to do it. And they were right… I wasn’t able to do it with her.
On top of that, I had everyone telling me that my baby needed to be in her own room. I need to let her cry and learn to self soothe. I need to not run to her because I would spoil her. So that’s what I did. Now luckily with her, she was a fantastic sleeper from the beginning. She slept through the night from the day she was born, with only brief periods of separation anxiety. I bottle fed and she slept even better.
When my second child was born, I had finally found my own rhythm with parenting. I was becoming more comfortable with and developed my own parenting style. Now it was very rudimentary at this point but I was starting to like the more holistic approach to parenting. The more gentle parenting methods, if you will. Again, I wanted to breastfeed. I was armed with more information but unfortunately I was not able to breastfeed due to health issues. But, I had changed a lot of my parenting practices aside from that. I think the greatest change was with sleep.
Western sleep philosophy is that children should sleep alone in their own beds, in their own rooms with nothing in the crib with them. They should be placed on their backs on a firm mattress. These guidelines have been put in place to help prevent SIDs and other sleep related infant deaths and accidents. This is what we did with our first but my second daughter was different.
First of all, she had horrible acid reflux. This child could vomit and hit a wall across the room. She gave a whole new meaning to Olympic hurling. On top of that she did have several health issues that caused a bit more concern for us, so she was the first to sort of co-sleep with me. She started out sleeping in a rock n’ play next to my bed. When she got to the point where she could sit up in the rock n’ play I moved her to my bed, just to be on the safe side. I didn’t want her falling out of the stupid rock n’ play but she still was not able to sleep on flat surfaces so she began to sleep next to me, propped up on my arm at the perfect angle.
I also dabbled in baby wearing with a moby wrap but I was horrible with this. I didn’t have the money at the time to get a more expensive sling or carrier and not being very good with a Moby Wrap, I just thought that baby wearing wasn’t for me. That still didn’t stop me from carrying her around though.
She slept with me until she was almost 16 months old, when I had my third daughter. Once we were both ready, she moved over to a crib in the room with me. It worked out perfectly.
With baby number three I was like a completely different mom. I was more than prepared to breastfeed this go around and had the will power to actually do it. It’s funny how going into something fully armed with knowledge really does boost your confidence in what you’re doing.
On top of that, I finally felt like I knew what I was doing as a mom. I had my own style that I was comfortable with. So breastfeeding and co-sleeping it was. I had also invested in a more inexpensive carrier that I was absolutely going to use this go around and had watched so many videos on how to properly use my Moby that I probably could do it in my sleep.
Breastfeeding was a success this time. We went in strong and I was so happy for it. One of the things that I had read was that, not just co-sleeping but, bed sharing was actually very good for promoting breastfeeding. On top of that, I honestly felt like it was much safer to have her in the bed with me while I breastfed at night. I would become very sleepy when I fed her and to help prevent her from slipping off of me if I fell asleep, I decided to just start laying down in the bed and so my bed sharing journey began with her.
I honestly credit bed sharing to potentially saving her life at one point. When she was around four months old, she became sick with a virus. It wasn’t serious but one night she ended up having a febrile seizure in her sleep. It was completely silent. Even her gagging was silent. Had she not been with me so I could feel the second she started moving, I may not have ever known and I don’t want to even begin to contemplate what could have happened had I not been there. I was able to get her placed into a safe position and was able to time everything and provide specific details on the seizure to the doctors at the hospital after it was over.
I wore her constantly either in front of me or on my back. It made getting things done around the house so much easier. I didn’t have to worry about her being upset that she wasn’t close to me, I was able to keep my hands free, and still get things done. It really was pretty amazing. I always tell people that going from two children to three was my easiest transition and I credit baby wearing with part of making that such an easy transition.
She slept with me until she was right at 17 months but due to my knee surgery she had to transition over to her own bed but her and my second daughter would still sneak into bed with me here and there.
When babies number four and five each arrived, I had no doubt in my mind that I would continue baby wearing and bed sharing and breastfeeding. I’ve modified the way that I do things to fit each child but overall my parenting has only grown more in line with attachment parenting and gentle parenting philosophies.
Attachment parenting is a parenting philosophy that focuses on the nurturing connection that parents can form with their children. It all kind of focuses on the fact that infants and babies instinctively seek closeness. This closeness helps them to feel safe emotionally as well as for food and survival. So you keep your baby close or “attached” to you to help them feel more secure.
I’ve found that, overall it’s just a much more peaceful way of parenting and fits my family better.
Now this style of parenting obviously has some drawbacks. It’s not all sweet sleeping babies and snuggles and laughs. It can be challenging and it is frowned upon by a lot of people still or thought of as drastic or weird here in the states but if you’re like me and prefer to have your baby close, there are so many ways to safely do attachment parenting. I highly encourage you to do some research on it.
I know that I’m not the only attached mommy out there, so let me know in the comment section below, what is one of your favorite things about attachment parenting? Don’t forget to follow my blog by hitting that follow button over to the right and join the G&G fam! You can also catch up with what we are doing by following us on instagram or facebook.