Are you an AP Parent?

Katherine - posted on 05/11/2012 ( 22 moms have responded )

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Yep. Didn't realize it though until I joined a community on here. Here are some signs of AP:

1. Birth bonding. What this means is that immediately after birth and for the days and weeks to come, the mom and baby are to spend this time in close proximity to each other, bonding. Yes, it takes into account babies in the NICU. This is not to say that if your baby is in the NICU that you can't bond, but that your newborn and you need to be together as much as you possibly can, even if for you, that means in the hospital when you can be, and when they finally come home. This not only helps the baby's transition into the world, knowing that their mother is still there for them and comfort is still readily available, but it helps the mother as well begin her breastfeeding relationship with the best start, as well as really learn her baby's personality, quirks, and especially cues and patterns.

2. Breastfeeding. Aside from all the benefits of breastfeeding, this is again an exercise in the mother-baby relationship. Breastfeeding helps you learn your individual child's cues, such as when they're starting to get hungry, when they're overly hungry, when they're full, when they want a snack, when they want to comfort suck, etc. It also is the natural, nature-designed way for the mother's body to heal from pregnancy and delivery. Breastfeeding contracts the uterus to help it contract back down to size, which can help prevent problems that lead to uterine, cervical, and ovarian cancer. It also tells the mother's body to release oxytocin and prolactin, which make you "happy" and are the body's natural way to try and avoid PPD or PPP while your hormones are going wacky and trying to level back out.

If you can't breastfeed, the most important part of this whole thing is to be very active in your time spent with your baby. When you feed them, try to have skin-on-skin contact which is proven to have benefits, and talk to your child and interact with them while feeding, and respect when they're full instead of worrying about the ounces on the bottle.

3. Babywearing. Carried babies fuss less and spend more time in the state of quiet alertness, the behavior state in which babies learn most about their environment. Because your baby is so close to you, you get to know baby better. Closeness promotes familiarity. This is not to say you can never put your baby down. Of course you can. AP-following parents still have swings, exersaucers, and playmats. We have lives too, and have to pee and eat sometime! However, it's often found that you can get a lot more done in the day when your baby is near you and involved in what you're doing. I understand that some people can't baby carry -- I couldn't because of my spine, and my lack of knowledge about the variety of slings. I still can't promise that if I knew about them, that I would have been able to find one that worked for me without hurting my back, neck or shoulders. So my alternative was to have my child close to me throughout the day, like having a blanket with toys on the kitchen floor and talking to him while I did the dishes. Babies want to be involved in your day-to-day routine, and they want you to talk to them about what you're doing. Consider this B to not be Babywearing, but proximity to your baby throughout the day. APers don't think, "God, can I put him down to do the dishes EVER?" they think, "How can I involve him while I do the dishes so we're both happy?"

4. Bedding close to baby. This means having your newborn in close proximity to you, even while sleeping. For some, this may mean co-sleeping, a co-sleeper, or a crib in the bedroom. For an infant, knowing that comfort is close by helps them feel more secure. Also, studies show that babies who sleep in close proximity to their parents mimic their breathing patterns, which in turn helps reduce the risk of SIDS. Mothers also have been shown to be much more aware of their infants, even while in a deep sleep, and are more likely to sense (and therefore wake up and handle) any distress in their infant. You're also more likely to catch your baby whimpering to be fed before they actually cry, which makes getting back to sleep much easier for the both of you.

Studies show that children who have their cries responded to sooner become more independent and are more willing to go out on a branch by themselves, knowing their support is always there to catch them when they fall, regardless of whether or not the sun is up. This is not to say that attachment parenting moms jump out of bed at the tiniest whimper -- to the contrary, you're more likely to know when your baby is just whimpering in their sleep, or woke up and just needs you to say, from your bed, "It's okay honey, go back to sleep," or if they actually need you for something. This actually gives everyone the most sleep possible -- yes, even the mother.

5. Belief in the language value of your baby's cries. I already explained this in the last B for the most part. This is the belief that your baby cries because they NEED something, and that infants are too young to manipulate or blackmail, or cry just "to bother you." This means that parents learn what their baby needs, and respond when the baby NEEDS something. By promptly responding to needs, you can actually learn to respond when your baby starts giving you cues for certain things, and thus reducing the amount of crying. This does not mean that the mom is at the baby's beck and call. It means that the mom spends time figuring out exactly why the baby cries by responding to each cry, so that as the baby grows older, she can tell them, "Honey, it's okay. You can handle yourself for a minute," while Mommy does something else, because she knows the difference between a "want" cry and a "need" cry by the cues that come before it, and the behavior associated with the cry.

6. Beware of baby trainers. Attachment parenting is about learning about your child, so you know what they need and when, so you both can make the most out of your time together, and fulfill needs before they become demands. Baby training, especially the strict schedules and "Cry It Out" training, goes completely against what is natural in parenting, which is listening when your baby tells you they need something. Your goal is never to be an expert in children, but to be an expert in YOUR child, because every single child is different. Schedules are necessary in life, as they give children more security when they know exactly what to expect (we read books, then brush teeth, and then we go to bed). However, especially in infants, and especially if feeding is strictly scheduled, you can cause a lot more harm than good. There are certain medical things where yes, you need to listen to the people who know more than you and have put millions into researching exact things, but when it comes to feeding your baby when they're hungry instead of when the clock tells you to, and getting them to sleep when it works best for you and your baby, experts are going to do nothing other than get in the way of what your natural mothering instincts tell you is right. No parenting expert, no matter how many years they have on them, knows everything about YOUR child.

7. Balance. Attachment parenting is not indulgent parenting. As your child gets older, you have learned the differences between wants and needs, and as a result, you are perfectly capable of saying no to wants while still promptly addressing needs. You also will be in tune with your child, and capable of knowing their level of understanding so you can set boundaries that are age appropriate while still explaining to your child that you understand why they do (insert behavior you want to change), but that (this) is a better alternative, and the other is not acceptable. You'll also be able to tell when your child is in toddlerhood when they do things merely because they forgot the rules, and when they're doing things just to push your buttons, and you can respond accordingly.


Attachment Parenting is often referred to as "child-led" parenting, and I see a lot of confusion as to what this means. Yes, we ARE the parents. Yes, we set the rules and boundaries. However, what child-led means is that we follow our child's lead. It's about showing your child respect as a person, for their needs, wants, and feelings. It has nothing to do with letting your child rule the roost, and anyone who claims such doesn't really understand attachment parenting in the first place. Child-led does not mean your child tells you what to do. It means paying attention to when your child is tired, and adjusting your routine accordingly, or being able to tell when your child is about to get into the restricted drawer, and gently reminding them that that is not acceptable, and there are better alternatives. We understand that every child is different, and we follow the cues of our child, and respect their individuality while shaping them towards the person we want them to be without squashing who they are or disrespecting them.

We also do not spoil our children -- to the contrary, we teach our children the difference between wants and needs, and to respect when mommy's needs will inevitably override their wants, and that they WILL be tended to -- if they wait patiently.

Dads are also very involved in this process, contrary to popular belief. AP mothers generally encourage the fathers to learn their babies cues just as much as they have. Moms all need time away from their children, and AP moms are no different. We want the other caregivers to know our child as well as we do, or similarly, so that our baby is not crying for a nap with the caregiver trying to force toys in their face. Also, with the ability to read cues and intervene before a baby cries, many parents don't feel like their child is a hassle at the grocery store or restaurant because they can meet their needs before a meltdown, so they feel more confident in taking their children out in public, rather than feeling tied down at home. As a result of both of these things, you may find AP moms who often state that they feel like "a part of them is missing" when they leave without their child (even though they enjoy the break) and that they're very, very discriminating when it comes to who they leave their child with, often limiting it to family and very close friends.

"Hover" parents are not AP parents. Hover parents never allow their children to make decisions for themselves, and have no time for their own activities as a result of not trusting their own child to make good decisions. This causes inappropriate dependency. Attachment differs from prolonged dependency. Attachment enhances development and encourages independence; prolonged dependency will hinder development.

Are you an AP parent?

MOST HELPFUL POSTS

Medic - posted on 05/12/2012

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I never thought I was....I still don't...sorta....I mean I wore my kids in a sling, they had a crib in my room till about 10 months, I made homemade organic babyfood, and I homeschool.....although in my defense homeschooling came after a horrid try at public school. BUT also in my defense......I bottle fed..gasp....horrid formula, my kids went with other people from a few weeks old..ie: my parents, godparents, things of the such. I dunno what I am and I fail to see why we have to fit into a group. Can't we all just be parents and be the best that WE can be not the best that OTHERS think we should be.

[deleted account]

About 6 years ago, back on the OLD and ancient AOL message boards, I was friendly with a mom who shared the same birth month/year as my son. She was also a frequent poster on the AP board. So I lurked. Honestly, I found a lot of the same nasty trash talk that we still see today regarding nursing, co-sleeping, SAHM, baby wearing, cloth dipes, etc. The majority of these AP moms identified themselves as "crunchy" moms, and to be 100% honest, there was a nasty core group of them. It continued past AP: home birth, homemade organic baby food, homeschooling older kids, etc.

All these years later, some comments that still stand out:

"I could NEVER be friends with a non-AP mom. We don't share the same parenting philosophies."
"I don't get it why moms have babies only to stick them in daycare for someone else to raise."
"Why WOULDN'T a mother want to co-sleep?"
"Ewwwww to the hundredth degree on the formula. POOR BABY."
"AP kids are the by far the most independent." (REALLY?! I call bullshit! Non-AP raised kids cannot be equally or exceededingly independent?)

And like I said, the list went on about the superior attitude of just a core group of AP moms form years past. I cannot make this claim now, but I suspect it might still be this way.

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LaLasha - posted on 05/13/2012

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Yes,I am. I didn't know it was a thing until I had my second. We just do what seems right to us.

Sylvia - posted on 05/13/2012

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Yes, I am. I don't think I'm judgy or martyr-y about it, though. (At least, I hope not!)

I think mostly I'm just lazy LOL. My DD nursed until she was about four and a half, because I believe in child-led weaning but also because she obviously needed it, I didn't mind it, and it was easiest to just accept that reality. We all slept in the same bed for about the same length of time, mostly because we lived in a one-bedroom flat, but also because we liked it and because it was easier. She wore cloth diapers until she started daycare at 13 months, and then we switched to disposables because it was easier than shlepping dirty cloth diapers home from daycare on the bus :P. I wore her in a sling all the time, because otherwise she screamed, and also it was WAY easier than a stroller when we went anywhere. I couldn't be bothered buying all those little jars of baby food and keeping track of when they'd been opened etc., so we mostly just squished up whatever we were eating and gave her some of that. (Note: she is the world's worst picky eater anyway.)

I have trouble understanding the whole sleep-training thing (most adults don't like sleeping alone, so why do we make our babies do it?), the scheduling and enforced naptimes and stuff like that. I don't get strollers for tiny babies, really. I hate when people talk about a baby being "bad" or "defiant" or "manipulative", and when I read about babies being "trained" by being left to cry alone so long that they vomit or pass out, I feel sick. It would never have occurred to us to take a child-free vacation. But I have NO trouble understanding that sometimes people need a break from their babies. I don't believe a baby was ever damaged by being left to cry for a couple of minutes while its mother takes a quick shower. I don't think parents should judge each other for doing what works best for their families.

My experience is a bit different from some people's, in that I've only gotten the judging from the AP perspective once -- the leader of my LLL group was really not supportive when I was going back to work after my mat leave, and when I asked for tips and advice basically just said "Have you thought about staying home instead?" (Yes, I had thought about it. It was not an option. We could not afford to live on 45% of our household income.) At the same time, I got the judging from the non-AP perspective ALL THE TIME when DD was younger -- people (mostly my SILs) were CONSTANTLY telling me DD needed to be left to cry more, I held her too much, I fed her too often, she should be on a schedule, she was spoiled, it was dangerous to let her sleep in our bed, etc., etc., etc. So my tendency is the opposite of Elfrieda's -- even though I see how tiresome the stereotypical AP-martyr-mom is, I know none of those IRL and lots of people who think all AP mums are like that, so I get defensive when people diss "extended" BF, babywearing, co-sleeping, etc.

Sarah - posted on 05/13/2012

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Oooooh crispy! That's me :)
...might go take a break for myself right now, in fact! Hehe
I hope you all had a lovely Mothers Day :) x


Ps. @Happy Mama - My nephew was in NICU for seven months and I agree, it is absolutely heartbreaking to watch those tiny defenseless little bundles lay there completely alone, day in, day out. Some of the parents didn't even work, they just didn't come to visit. I understand it is a very stressful and emotional time but it is their CHILD! They were all much healthier and far less likely to pass away than my nephew and still the parents just left them there :(

Medic - posted on 05/12/2012

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This is what we have decided crispy is.......a few drinks later......
-has done more than enough research to back up any and all decisions
-makes every decision with their kid as the main focus
-takes breaks for self...insert wine, beer, or mixed drink of choice
-feeds our kid the best (the best can vary from person to person)
-more laid back than a full blood APer or ANTI-APer
-we vax (for the most part)
-some homeschool (totally not religious based) or we find trendy charter schools (public will suffice)
-no tree huggers
-no snotty moms
-we are totally comfy in yoga pants (come on ya'll know what we are talking about)
-we love the ease of disposable diapers....but think and sometimes try cloth....ease usually wins
-we tell our kids to man up or rub some dirt on it you will be fine
-but we are here for the emotional support
-no bubble kids.....no helicoptering (that is WAY too much effort)
so basically just be you and everyone will be fine....no strong feelings either way....happy in the middle but educated enough to back up your decisions if the crunchy or snotty moms try to shoot us down...
that is all we got so far....haha sorry we were a little interested in this topic

Happy - posted on 05/12/2012

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Love being a AP mom! My newest little, 11 days old today, was in the NICU for 3 days. Either my husband or I were in there with her the entire time, 24 hours a day, all three days, always holding her. I was so saddend by the number of babies in the NICU who did not have ONE visitor in the entire 3 days my baby was there. I understand parents have to work, especially for the babies that were in NICU for many months but for NO ONE, not Mom, Dad, Grandma, Grandpa, Aunt, Uncle, NO ONE to come see, hold, love on that baby for an entire THREE days just made my heart break!

[deleted account]

Does co-sleping count 7 years later!? Lol!

Let's see.....I did co-sleep, semi nursed, did make homemade baby food for a few months, did use a baby carrier for a few months. But far from an AP mom!

Firebird - posted on 05/12/2012

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I think crispy is a good way to define me too lol After all, there's more to AP than just what is listed in the op, and I know I don't follow along with everything the APers do.

Elfrieda - posted on 05/12/2012

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Crispy... lol. That might be a good name for me, too.



I think it's not that most of us have anything against AP theory really, it's just that nobody likes to be judged and since AP is a main school of thought these days, there are a lot of people who would be judg-y no matter what they were doing who are judging according to those guidelines.



I can sometimes *feel* what people are thinking when they encounter me, and it's kind of funny except it makes me feel a bit insecure. (Fortunately I have a variety of friends who don't require that we all do things the same way, so it's more funny than upsetting.) Since I'm "crispy" (thanks Medic Mommy!) I have more of these encounters with "crunchy" women.



Crunchy Mom meets Elfrieda, gets out checklist:

- homebirth? check!

(very good, high marks, higher marks once we discuss our desire for water birth next time)



- breastfed? sort of... I ran out of milk a few months in

(well, it's forgiveable, you obviously didn't run out of milk because that's IMPOSSIBLE but were probably not well supported enough, you poor deluded creature)



- cloth diapers? often... not when we go out or I forgot to wash them.

(hmmm, it's better than nothing, but you're not very committed are you? No stash? Where's your passion?)



- made the baby's first food? yes!

(full marks)



-only organic, I assume? Oh, well, no. I just fed him what we were eating. I washed it!

(deduct marks from previous query)



And it goes on. I might sound a bit paranoid, but I think that's what sometimes is really happening! I mean, we're nodding along in agreement about not feeding our children juice and then BAM I'm making bad decisions by letting people (Somebody? Anybody! Please take my colicky baby so I can sleep!) hold my newborn.



I think we (including myself with my constant presence here on this website) spend too much time thinking about how to raise our kids.

Krista - posted on 05/12/2012

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I wouldn't say I'm AP. I'm more semi-attached. Kind of like two duplexes attached by a breezeway.

I didn't breastfeed, but it wasn't for lack of trying. We room-shared with my son for the first two months, but were then happy to put him in a crib in his own room. I made his food, but did not babywear at ALL. I insisted that my son be placed skin-to-skin with me as soon as he was out, and knew what his every cry meant, but DID do a modified version of Ferber with him.

Basically, I used what felt right for me, and scrapped what didn't. He's a pretty happy kid, albeit a bit shy and sensitive, but how much of that is nature and how much is nurture? I don't know. All I know is that we all do the best we can, and then hope that we've socked away enough money for their therapy bills 20 years from now.

Medic - posted on 05/12/2012

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I am not a crunchy parent....just slightly crispy....as pointed out by my other slightly crispy friend.

Katherine - posted on 05/12/2012

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Re-reading this, I'm not totally AP. I'm half AP if you will lol. I don't do a lot of the things listed here. Only some.

[deleted account]

no i definitely am not. it works for some people but i don't think it would have worked for me as a whole

Sarah - posted on 05/12/2012

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Yes... I had never even heard of AP until right now, reading this post. I don't make all my baby's food, and I can't afford organic (nor do I particularly want it), I couldn't breastfeed and my children have formula, I have a very bad back so can't even hold my babies for very long if I'm standing, but everything else pretty much sums me up... I don't care how other people raise their kids, I believe in the 'whatever works' approach. The most trouble I have as a mother is everyone else being nasty to ME! Telling me I 'should' be doing this... 'should' be doing that... My kids have cots in our room until they are 1yr old, then they move to their own rooms. They sleep late, have random nap times (dependent on what time they wake up) and get family dinner when it is ready (or earlier if they are particularly hungry).
We take our children everywhere with us, but it just feels normal and we like to all be together. People tell me to get them baby sat when we go out for dinner so I 'can have a break', but I don't need/want a break. I have people approaching me constantly to comment on how well behaved my children are. I find it flattering and it makes me proud of my kids and the job I'm doing as a mother, but it also worries me that my children - even on a bad day - are standing out as well behaved so much that strangers feel the need to mention it. Makes me wonder what I'm doing different to my friends... Who seem to constantly complain about their kids and make snide remarks and make me feel guilty for having well behaved, polite, sound sleeping children.
I never knew anything about babies until I had my own, not even how to change a nappy. I think it was best because I never had any expectations, and never got stressed out when things didn't happen like they were 'meant' to. I just went through the motions and learnt everything at the same time my son did. I still don't know a lot, but I know my kids, and they are happy and healthy and that's all I care about.

Medic - posted on 05/12/2012

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I do have the get away from me or I am gonna start throwing shit moments. Thankfully so do my kids and they know to respectfully excuse themselves to their rooms and chill. My 5 year old has just not gotten the privelage of having a few toys in his room that his sister would destroy if they were out in the open so he goes and has quiet time with just himself. I could not imagine having my kids up my butt all day....I think that is what comes to mind when I think of AP.

Elfrieda - posted on 05/12/2012

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No. I followed some of those things, like making the baby food and you know, generally being a responsive parent, but the environment I'm in makes attachment parenting The Rules, and I really felt oppressed by those rules, especially when I needed to give my son formula or take a break from him.



As a sort of reaction, I've become quite vocal in "train the baby to sleep!", "you don't have to hold the baby all the time", "don't let them make you feel guilty", "you're not going to damage the child by feeding him formula"



If someone WANTS to do all those things, that's fine by me. Just don't push it on everybody. My cousin's wife is a good example of an AP, I think. I don't even know what she all does because she (gasp!) doesn't talk about it! She's quiet and kind with her kids, and they sleep all draped on her, and she never talks about other parents in a negative way and she spends every waking moment with the kids and carries the babies constantly until they're over 6 months. They aren't brats, they're sweet little souls, maybe a little sensitive but way nicer and well behaved than many other kids. But if I was to do all those things, I would be a twitching mass of nerves and hateful thoughts, and I'm pretty sure my kids would be a little messed up, too.

Dove - posted on 05/12/2012

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Yes and no. I do have some AP tendencies, especially now. I don't care what 'method' you parent by as long as your kid is safe, loved, and cared for. I parent to my kid/family, you parent to yours. :)

Firebird - posted on 05/12/2012

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You know Sapphire, the main reason I guess, that I've never claimed to be an AP parent is because I'm not a bitch about how I raise my daughter, and that's how I perceived AP moms to be. Honestly, I didn't realize until yesterday, that I used very similar methods.... just without the holier-than-thou attitude. lol

Firebird - posted on 05/11/2012

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Oh my god... I am! lol I didn't breast feed more than 2 weeks but I always wore tank tops so there was skin contact when she had her bottle, we didn't co sleep but she was in my room until she was 2, and I didn't wear her in a sling but I did carry her almost everywhere. And if I wasn't holding her, she was no more than 5 feet away.... unless I was in the bathroom, that was 'me' time - end of story. lol Almost everything in your post applies to me. Funny, since I'd never heard of AP until... oh less than a year ago, I guess.

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