One of my favorite authors to read for information on how to nurture your babies well are Dr. Sears (all of them). He is a big proponent of attachment parenting.
Attachment Parenting is defined at the AttachmentParenting.org website as-The essence of Attachment Parenting is about forming and nurturing strong connections between parents and their children. Attachment Parenting challenges us as parents to treat our children with kindness, respect and dignity, and to model in our interactions with them the way we'd like them to interact with others.
I have done my best to implement this since having Ethan. Its really really hard, but I have tried my hardest because I think it is the right thing to do. The primary ways the Sears say to do this is breastfeeding, babywearing (carry them a lot and use a sling if it helps), and co-sleeping or bedding close to your baby, and belief in their cries (don't ignore them or let them "cry-it-out").
All right so now after doing this for the past two years, I have some questions of practicality for good ol' Dr. Sears. I am not trying to be antagonistic. I really want to be an attentive and loving parent, but some of his suggestions on how to handle certain situations are just not working.
1. We did the bed sharing thing with Ethan and we ran into the problem of his diaper leaking every night when he was 10-15 months old because he still took bottles at night. We woke up every morning to pee sheets. He also had a fondness for sleeping horizontally and taking up most of the space on the bed OR he wanted to sleep on top of me or his dad all night. I cannot sleep while someone is touching me. The result? We HAD to get him in his own room and his own bed before the new baby came because not only did the baby deserve a nice dry place to sleep and to not be kicked on, Ethan is a light sleeper and would wake up to new hungry baby noises. So, Dr. Sears, if we are supposed to let our children sleep where they sleep best, and if that is with the parents, then what should we do if it is not the best for the rest of the family?
Oh, and yes, Dr. Sears, I did try your various suggestions for gently teaching him to sleep in his own room in his own bed without him crying alone but it only worked until the new baby came. When he arrived he completely regressed.
2. You say to breastfeed your new baby on the floor so you can still play with your toddler so they won't feel left out and go get into mischief. Ok, if I could have done that comfortably, MAYBE, but I couldn't. But lets suppose I could. What should I have done about the fact that the toddler kept trying to hit the baby and climb on my back?
3. You say that we should wear our new baby in the sling and our toddler will be happy that I have two hands free to play. What do I do when I put the baby in the sling and the toddler gets jealous and starts screaming bloody murder in public because he would also like to be, "up?" I am sure the attachment oriented parent wouldn't have dragged their toddler who refused to walk back to the car like I did...
4. You say if your baby bites you while breasfeeding that you should press their nose to your breast so they can't breathe for just a second so they will associate it with discomfort and they will stop. What if they DON"T stop and you are getting bitten many many times during a feed while they are teething. THEN can I use a freakin' bottle?! Oh, but what if because you say breastfeeding is best and you have delayed introducing the bottle they refuse it all together and you are now stuck?
Love, Your Fan,