Attachment Parenting Benefits: A New Mom’s Guide

A new mom practicing attachment parenting.

New moms who practice attachment parenting often find themselves thriving, rather than merely surviving, in the fourth trimester. Attachment parenting benefits not only the baby but new parents as well! If you are considering attachment parenting, you may wonder, “What is this parenting style all about? Will I have the time? And what will others think?

There are so many misconceptions about attachment parenting that its simplicity may surprise you. It’s just about relying on your maternal instincts to build a nurturing connection with your child. This connection then lays the groundwork for children to feel secure, build autonomy as well as form healthy relationships with others. In this guide for new moms, I’ll walk through some straightforward ways both you and your little one can reap the rewards of attachment parenting benefits.

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Attachment Parenting Benefits: A New Mom's Guide
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Find your attachment parenting “why”

I found myself in a frequent state of inner turmoil and guilt after just a few weeks with my high-needs newborn.  The nurse at my new moms’ group had firmly drilled in the gold standard “eat, play, sleep” routine. Loved ones urged that putting the baby down was “good for us”.  God forbid, you wouldn’t want to spoil a newborn! Yet on the inside, I just wanted to do what felt right and natural: Nurse my son to sleep, keep him close and respond to his cries with love. After all, he wouldn’t depend on me like this forever.

So, what’s a sleep-deprived, emotionally vulnerable new mom supposed to do?  I asked myself one simple question. The answer launched my journey into attachment parenting.

Imagine you find yourself and your precious baby on a desert island. Pretend that you don’t know what mothers did before you. Envision a world where no one has ever told you the “right” ways to care for, love, and protect your little one. Only your mother’s intuition can guide your parenting. What decisions might you make in regards to feeding, sleeping, and responding to your child’s cries?

What is Attachment Parenting?

Crazy enough, attachment parenting got its start with…well, the first parents! As a species, we are biologically designed to care for our children in this way. A mother feels distressed upon hearing her baby cry. Why? She will instinctively respond quickly to meet her baby’s needs. Similarly, infants are hardwired to demand physical comfort. A newborn sleeping peacefully in a caregiver’s arms may awaken with protest the second he or she is set down. It’s basic survival instincts. Trust your gut mama, the answers are already within you!

Pediatrician and author, William Sears, officially coined the term attachment parenting. According to Sears, attachment parents model the qualities they strive to instill in their children: Empathy, kindness, and respect. According to Sears, attachment parenting benefits both baby and caregiver, by centering on building a nurturing connection. Infants feel safe and gain trust when their needs are consistently met with love. A secure attachment between baby and parent lays the foundation for future relationships as the child develops.

Dr. Sears charges attachment parents to follow their instincts, inclusive of 7 basic practices known as the 7 B’s:

  1. Birth bonding
  2. Breastfeeding
  3. Babywearing
  4. Bedding close to baby
  5. Belief in the language value of your baby’s cry
  6. Beware of baby trainers
  7. Balance

Getting Started With the 7 B’s: Top Attachment Parenting Benefits

Attachment Parenting Benefits: A New Mom's Guide
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#1 Birth bonding

Just think of your infant’s “love language” as physical touch. Mothers and newborns naturally draw close to one another, particularly during the first few weeks. This time allows your maternal instincts to take effect as you sort through your child’s individual needs and temperament. Skin-to-skin contact following birth serves as a great way to begin your attachment parenting journey.

Tip: It’s okay if things don’t go as planned.

Rest assured, a secure parent-child relationship forms from countless moments and interactions over time. If medical conditions prevent immediate skin-to-skin, this single factor will not significantly impact your attachment parenting benefits long-term. Health and physiological needs (for both baby and mother) should always remain a top priority. You’re doing great, mama!

#2 Breastfeeding

A new mom breastfeeding, one of the B's of attachment parenting.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. Additionally, WHO recommends continued breastfeeding after the introduction of solid foods, up to two years or beyond.

Undeniably, breastfeeding provides an excellent way for a mother to both nourish and comfort her baby. Research also suggests that infants who breastfeed long-term are at a decreased risk for illnesses, as well as may experience both cognitive and social/emotional benefits. Of course, individual circumstances prevent some parents from breastfeeding. In such instances, attachment parents may also practice “bottle nursing” to mimic the comforting behaviors of breastfeeding.

Tip: Seek support early, even if you don’t think you need it.

Breastfeeding may be a natural process, but it’s not always the most intuitive at first. I encourage expectant mothers to schedule a consultation with a board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) as soon as possible after delivery. It’s also never too late to ask for help after your baby arrives. Begin by finding an IBCLC through the International Lactation Consultant Association. I also love The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, a comprehensive guide put forth by La Leche League International. This incredibly detailed reference can help you navigate any breastfeeding concern imaginable!

#3 Babywearing

Hands down, babywearing serves as one of the best ways to build a close bond as well as provide the physical security infants crave. And bonus, this can happen all while accomplishing other responsibilities at home or out and about. The first time I wore my newborn, his usual measly 30-minute catnap turned into a 2 hour slumber! Suddenly the mountain of dirty laundry had disappeared. I also savored some phenomenal snuggle time. From then on, I felt cloaked in a superwoman cape every time I wore my carrier!

So many different babywearing choices exist today: Wraps, slings, and soft-structured, to name a few. First and foremost, you’ll want to choose a carrier endorsed as “hip-healthy” by the International Hip Dysplasia Institute. Additionally, follow all provided instructions by the manufacturer as well as abide by safe babywearing guidelines.

A tremendous attachment parenting benefit: Babywearing!
Start your attachment parenting journey with an easy-to-use carrier or wrap and you’ll be wearing more than just baby (check out that smile!) 🙂

Tip: Begin with an easy-to-use carrier

In full disclosure, I developed a total babywearing obsession during the first year of my son’s life and have built quite a collection. Hands down, my top choice for new parents is the Baby K’tan. The K’tan requires no fancy wrapping or knotting, buckling behind your back, or threading rings. And a bonus, it’s incredibly comfortable for both parents and babies.

#4 Bedding close to baby

Little ones seem to need us the most at nighttime. To respond best to those needs, most attachment parents practice co-sleeping. Co-sleeping may include baby on a separate safe sleep surface in the same room as parents. It may also include bed-sharing following the safe sleep seven guidelines. Breastfeeding moms often find they can maximize their responsiveness in addition to their own rest by keeping baby close.

A young infant contently lying in a sidecar closleeper.
According to infant sleep researcher, Dr. James McKenna, the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in Japan is the lowest worldwide. Here, attachment parenting practices such as co-sleeping and breastfeeding (among non-smoking mothers) are the norm.

Tip: Research “normal infant sleep” and adjust expectations

Attachment parents benefit from framing expectations around well-researched “normal” infant sleep patterns. It is healthy and typical for infants and even toddlers to wake during the night. It’s also perfectly okay if they need some loving assistance returning to sleep. Your child’s ability to sleep through the night is not a measure of successful parenting! It’s biology. Furthermore, it’s not worth sacrificing your parenting values over.

Sleep training methods such as “Cry it Out” may hinder the trust you have worked hard to build with your little one. Uninterrupted sleep will happen in your child’s own time. It’s certainly not always easy, but remember, they are only little for such a little while. 🙂

#5 Beware of baby trainers

Certainly, attachment parents do not compromise love, trust, and respect for convenience. Baby trainers or sleep coaches undermind attachment parenting benefits on nearly every level. They often subscribe to rigid schedules and plans, rather than meeting a baby’s needs on-demand. Trainers and coaches frequently push for developmentally inappropriate milestones such as “self-soothing”. They typically propose the “Cry it Out method” in various degrees.

When a young infant is left to cry and eventually stops with time, they have not self-soothed. They have given up the hope that their caregiver is coming to help (Warning: If you feel your heartbreaking, you may be an attachment parent!).

Tip: Grow your circle of support like-minded allies

Of course, it’s no secret that most new moms find the first year of a child’s life quite difficult in the sleep department. Search for like-minded mamas to build your circle of support. Visit local groups such as La Leche League International, and get connected through online communities and Facebook groups. If most of your friends or family subscribe to a different set of beliefs regarding sleep, this is vital. Find a safe forum to seek advice that will align with your values.

Interested in including this like-minded mama in your circle? I love connecting with new moms! Please subscribe below to join the Such a Little While circle of support.

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    #6 Belief in the language value of your baby’s cry

    Certainly, a newborn’s first and only form of communication is crying. When it comes to crying, imagine your baby has an imaginary “trust” bucket. Each time you respond to his or her cry with love, warmth, and respect, you place a drop in that bucket. Over time, those drops build up your little one’s confidence that future needs will also be met.

    A crying newborn waiting for an attachment parent to come help.
    Continue responding with sensitivity and love and “this too shall pass”.

    Tip: Trust your gut when you feel there’s more going on

    Frequently, parents cannot figure out how to soothe their newborn’s cries, despite best efforts. Swaddling, rocking, and white noise provided tremendous help to my husband and me when our newborn son would “go nuclear” (as we lovingly called it). When those strategies no longer worked after every feed, my mother’s intuition knew something was wrong. We eventually discovered he suffered from silent reflux.

    If you find yourself with an inconsolable infant, know you are not alone and you are not to blame! If your maternal instincts point to a problem, it’s time to reach out for help. Talk with your pediatrician and advocate for support in ruling out potential underlying medical causes.

    #7 Balance

    Attachment parenting feels like a 24/7 job because it is! This being said, you can lovingly meet your child’s needs without serving as the sole caregiver every minute of the day. Taking care of your child also includes taking care of your child’s mother. Asking for help from your circle of support is often necessary. In fact, it’s something great moms frequently do! Every mama needs and deserves time to recharge.

    Tip: Schedule self-care into your weekly routine

    For me, ensuring I have one long (and I mean long), uninterrupted shower every Saturday morning keeps me grounded. It’s heavenly! Others may seek solace in hitting up the gym, calling an old friend, or catching up on some zzz’s. Also, who knew that once you become a mom, going grocery shopping alone can feel like a luxury vacation?!

    Curious about attachment parenting?  7 truths for new moms.
    Don’t forget to save an image to your Attachment Parenting Pinterest board so you can refer back! 🙂

    And perhaps the most important attachment parenting tip…

    A new mom nursing her newborn, happily practicing attachment parenting at home.
    Negativity not welcome here! I’m sure you’ve discovered that new moms are magnets for unsolicited advice. Attachment parenting benefits your baby’s physical and emotional well-being, keeping them top priority.

    …ignore the naysayers, they mean well (usually)

    Sadly, many parents in western culture have fallen off course with following their natural instincts. We’ve all heard the expressions “you shouldn’t spoil a baby”, “crying is good for them” and “infants need sleep training”. Unfortunately, these socially constructed beliefs do not stem from facts. They go against our biological hard-wiring and can create social barriers for attachment parents.

    It’s not always easy as attachment parents, but we cannot permit others’ negativity to stand in the way of doing right by our children. Attachment and gentle parenting criticism is a real, widespread concern. You are not alone! Need help figuring out exactly what to say to your parenting critics? I’d love to help! Check out this free resource below.

    Feel confident responding to your biggest attachment parenting critic with this FREE guide!

    Free Gentle Parenting Criticism Response Guide
    • Are you at the end of your rope dealing with judgment and criticism of your parenting choices?
    • Do hot button issues such as sleep, breastfeeding, and discipline constantly come up between you and your partner, close relative, or friend?
    • Are you ready to speak your truth and set healthy boundaries?

    This step-by-step guide will walk you through how to respectfully, but effectively, say what’s been on your mind for far too long!

    You will also be added to the Such a Little While newsletter for more free parenting resources.

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      Certainly, let’s keep in mind that nearly all parents do their best with what they have and what they know. Parents across the generations have had different access to research, information, and supports. Of course, you can and should strive to educate and empower change. Consider sharing this post or other resources highlighting attachment parenting benefits as a first step. However, focusing on your baby’s needs and what is in your control should remain a top priority as a new mom.

      Common Questions/FAQ About Attachment Parenting Benefits

      Will attachment parenting create a clingy child?

      Quite the opposite! Attachment parenting is all about creating a trusting relationship between parent and child. This secure foundation feeds a child’s confidence to then explore the world and form additional healthy relationships.

      My baby hates being worn. What should I do?

      Ensure that you follow all safe babywearing guidelines, and stick with it! As you become more comfortable with your carrier, your baby will feel more at ease. Children, including newborns, pick up on our energy and emotions. I found my son went through various babywearing phases, constantly changing his preferred carry position and which carrier he liked best. When it comes to babies, nearly everything is a phase!

      We do not meet the safe sleep 7 criteria for bed-sharing. What are our options?

      Perhaps you have a precious preemie or cannot breastfeed. Maybe your pillow-top mattress won’t suffice as a safe sleep surface. Not to worry! New moms can utilize many great options for keeping baby close, without bringing him or her directly into your bed. I personally felt most comfortable using the Halo Bassinest Swivel Sleeper during the fourth trimester. I loved that he was always within my sight and reach. Some families may also choose to bring baby’s pack and play into their room or convert their crib into a sidecar as baby grows.

      How can I get my partner on board with attachment parenting?

      Often, as new moms, we find it difficult to take a step back. However, it is critical to provide opportunities for your partner and baby to bond. Will he or she not burp the baby as successfully as you? Possibly. Will your partner forget to snap the baby’s onesie after every diaper change? Probably. If we are just talking about these small discrepancies, it’s going to be okay!

      Consider babywearing as a possible first step in getting your partner on board. Find a carrier that works for you both (my go-to is Baby Tula’s Free to Grow Carrier). Or better yet, invest in a sized-based carrier (such as the Baby K’tan) that only belongs to your partner. Allow him or her the chance to rise to the occasion and you may be surprised!

      If you and your partner are not seeing eye-to-eye on core parenting values, I invite you to read my article on How to Overcome Gentle Parenting Criticism. This resource provides an in-depth look into this complex issue and how to get help.

      I work full-time. Is attachment parenting even possible?

      Absolutely! As a full-time working mama, attachment parenting benefits have truly enabled me to make the most of every moment. Just by co-sleeping, you can add nearly 60 hours of quality time to your week! Need to catch up on errands or laundry over the weekend? Wear your baby and make it a quality time activity.

      One of my greatest concerns going back to work was the daunting, time-consuming task of pumping. Find out how I saved five hours each week with these top pumping products and continue breastfeeding as an attachment parent.

      Begin Your Attachment Parenting Journey

      Alright, it’s time to go soak up those snuggles and build that nurturing connection with your little one. Remember you are laying the foundation for your child to develop socially and emotionally for years to come. Certainly, every moment is not going to be easy. But they are only this little for such a little while. When times are tough, seek support in like-minded mamas. We would love to have you join our circle of support below!

      Above all else, remember that your own attachment parenting guide already lies within you. Mama, you got this!

      With Love & Kindness, Tana
      Hi, I’m Tana! I’m a mom, certified positive discipline parent educator, and former school counselor. It’s my mission to help you make the most of every moment with your children through effective positive & gentle parenting tools. Let’s dive in!

      Join our Circle of Support!

      Do you strive to model & instill values of empathy & respect as a parent?

      Are you looking for effective tools to encourage positive choices with your kids?

      Do you wish you had more connections to like-minded parents?

      I invite you to subscribe to my newsletter! You’ll receive FREE bonus resources and the latest content from Such a Little While.

        References & Resources

        Ask Dr. Sears

        Attachment Parenting International

        Baby K’tan (Visible & Kissable: 5 Safe Babywearing Tips)

        International Hip Dysplasia Institute

        Kelly Mom (Parenting & Breastfeeding)

        La Leche League International

        University of Notre Dame Mother-Baby Behavioral Sleep Laboratory

        World Health Organization (Breastfeeding)

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