Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio..."

Reading during my pregnancy helped me feel prepared and in control. I became hooked on learning all I could about the Attachment Parenting model for caring for a baby. According to the philosophy, babies who are worn close to the body in a sling instead of being put down in cribs are less likely to cry.

The phrase “Fourth Trimester” is used to explain how “babywearing” helps replicate conditions in the womb and makes a baby feel more secure in her new world. It seemed easy enough. I was optimistic that I could commit to wearing my baby. And for the first three weeks, Claire was content. After that, we were at a loss about what to do on the occasions when she no longer wanted to be worn. Particularly at bedtime, holding her was not enough to soothe our fussy baby. We turned to another guru of Attachment Parenting who offered steps to make our baby the “Happiest Baby on the Block”.

With a promise like that one, who wouldn't? But...Claire struggled against the swaddling recommended to soothe her. She did not want to be rocked on her side, as was advised works for a crying baby. These failures did not lead to our abandonment of the Attachment Parenting model, however. What we learned was that following a philosophy 100% of the time can cause much unnecessary heartache. When things aren’t working, you feel inadequate and your baby is unhappy.

Actually, I think that we are following the overarching principle of Attachment Parenting more than we did before, while being sure to calibrate its practical advice. One of its main tenets is to respect your child’s needs. We have learned to follow our baby’s lead, not the experts’. Now, my husband and I hold her only when she wants to be held. We know she likes to be swaddled at night. Most of the time, she takes to babywearing.  At other times, though, our baby likes to lie on her back alone in her co-sleeper, watching her mobile spin round and round. It’s old school, for sure.

The true difference is that I have learned as much about Claire as I have about Attachment Parenting.


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