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Not all parenting styles are alike. What individuals do as parents depends somewhat on how they were raised as a child, what they observed in other families, and what they have been taught. Two very different styles have emerged: Attachment Parenting and Babywise Parenting. One's own developed style of parenting will probably fall somewhere between the two.
Attachment Parenting is a style of parenting that develops an infant or child's need for trust, empathy, and affection in order to create a secure, peaceful, and enduring relationship. This style requires a consistent, loving, and responsive caregiver, ideally a parent, especially during the child's critical first 3–5 years of life.
Babywise Parenting claims that parents can establish a routine in their baby's life from day one and stick to it no matter what. Parent-Directed Feeding (PDF) is an infant-management strategy designed to meet the nutritional, physical, and emotional needs of the baby as well as the needs of the whole family. Two related dangers threaten successful parenting: not understanding the significance of the husband-wife relationship in the parenting process and the hazard of child-centered parenting.
(AP)Being emotionally responsive to your baby's emotional needs is the cornerstone to Attachment Parenting. Read and respond sensitively to your baby's cues and signals. Remember that crying is your baby's way of telling you s/he is distressed. Listen to those cries and try to respond before your baby has a need to cry. Connect with your baby early on. Connecting is more than just caring for the baby's physical needs; it also involves spending enjoyable time interacting with your baby or child.
(BW)Babies become not only conditioned to being picked up at a whimper but also abnormally dependent on being picked up.
PDF is made up of three basic activities that are repeated in a rhythmical cycle throughout the day: feeding time, waketime, and naptime. These cycles are both routine and predictable.
(AP)Breastfeeding your baby is an easy way to meet your baby's need for food, liquids, and physical contact. Breastfeeding has so many benefits to the baby, mother, and our society and is the most natural way to meet so many of your baby's physical needs.
(BW)If your baby does not eat at a scheduled feeding, s/he must wait until the next one. Feedings are at 2 1/2- to 3-hour intervals. Your baby's routine is to serve you; you are not to serve your baby's routine.
(AP)In many cultures, it is considered normal and expected for parents to sleep with their children. Only recently has research shown the benefits for babies (e.g., a reduced risk of SIDS). Attachment Parenting advocates safe bed sharing in which the parents are not using drugs or alcohol and have a safe, firm mattress. Although some parents may not be comfortable with the idea of bed sharing, the key is merely being responsive to the child's nighttime needs. (Dr. William Sears a well-known pediatrician and author of many parenting books, defines co-sleeping as sleeping within arm's reach of the baby, though many may assume that co-sleeping means that parents and baby share the same bed.)
(BW)Naps are not an option based on your baby's wants. When naptime comes, the baby goes down in the crib. Crying for 15–20 or even 30 minutes is not going to hurt your baby, physically or emotionally.
The three most common negative sleep props are 1) intentionally nursing a baby to sleep, 2) rocking a baby to sleep, and 3) sleeping with the baby.
(AP)Avoid frequent and prolonged separations from your baby. Secure attachments can be damaged by lengthy separations between the parent and young child. Keep separations down to a bare minimum when your baby is young and be responsive to your baby's need for your physical presence. Long separations can cause your child to go through the stages of grief and can affect your child's attachment to you. If separations are inevitable, then help your child to gradually work toward them. The ideal situation is continuity of care and having a consistent, loving caregiver.
(BW)The nature of the PDF program fosters relational security. That is, a baby's security depends on her developing relationship, not on proximity to the baby's mother. In contrast, mothers who are constantly attentive by the way of baby slings, shared sleep, and demand feeding, all in hopes of fostering security, too often accomplish the opposite.
(AP)Set limits for your baby or young child in a warm, loving manner. Teach empathy through positive, nonviolent methods of discipline. (Ideally, the loving connection and responsiveness established during infancy should continue throughout childhood. Attachment Parenting International's book list contains excellent materials for group discussion on parenting the older child as well as an infant.)
(BW)The authors of On Becoming Babywise assume the reader is family-centered, not child-centered. Parents regard their baby as a welcome member of the family, though not the center of the family universe. No evidence proves that an immediate response to every cry teaches a baby anything about love, just as no evidence proves that a little crying fosters feelings of insecurity.
What parenting style is most suited to you? What are the pros and cons of each method?
Please be respectful of others parenting styles even if they differ from your own!