New parents don’t want your advice unless they ask for it. Trust me. Nothing invites unwelcome advice like having a baby. And nothing in my life has confronted me with a steeper learning curve than becoming a father. Of the many resources my wife and I turned to in the first couple of years after our daughter was born, this one’s a favorite. William and Martha Sears (M.D. and R.N., respectively, and parents of eight) are the Dr. Spocks of the current generation, and they seem to have been influenced by his favoring increased parental flexibility and affection over an emphasis on discipline and character building. The Sears’s sage and sober advice always feels friendly, even-handed; their joint perspective is broad.
There’s nothing revolutionary to their approach: Attachment parenting is their emphasis. And simply put, attachment parenting as they define it means being very involved and engaged and responding to who your child is and what she needs. And enjoying parenting in the process, of course. Makes sense.
If you’re about to become a parent, you’ll be well-served with this exhaustive guidebook. If someone close to you is a soon-to-be parent, share your wisdom only if it’s sought and buy him The Baby Book. The Sears’a Discipline Book is a worthwhile read, too.
The Seven Baby B’s of Attachment Parenting
1. birth bonding
2. belief in the signal value of your baby’s cries
5. bedding close to baby
6. balance and boundaries
7. beware of baby trainers
Beware of Baby Trainers
Be prepared to be the target of well-meaning advisers who will shower you with detachment advice, such as: “Let her cry it out,” “Get her on a schedule,” “You shouldn’t still be nursing her!” and “Don’t pick her up so much, you’re spoiling her!” If carried to the extreme, baby training is a lose-lose situation: Baby loses trust in the signal value of her cues, and parents lose trust in their ability to read and respond to baby’s cues. As a result, a distance can develop between baby and parent, which is just the opposite of the closeness that develops with attachment parenting…
The basis of baby training is to help babies become more “convenient.” It is based upon the misguided assumption that babies cry to manipulate, not to communicate.
Best Fats for Babies
Not only should infants get 40 to 50 percent of their calories from fats, they should eat the right variety of fats. In addition to breast milk, the best fats for babies (and also for children and adults) come from marine and vegetable sources. Ranked in order of nutritional content they are:
- seafood (especially salmon)
- flax oil
- vegetable oils
- nut butters (because of possible allergies, delay peanut butter until after two years)
Discipline Begins at Birth
Discipline begins as a relationship, not a list of methods. The first stage of discipline — the attachment stage — begins at birth and develops as you and your baby grow together. The big three of attachment parenting (breastfeeding, wearing baby, and responding to baby’s cues) are actually your first disciplinary actions. A baby who is on the receiving end of attachment parenting feels right, and a person who feels right is more likely to act right. An attachment parented baby is more receptive to authority because he operates from a foundation of trust. This baby spends the early months of his life learning that the world is a responsive and trusting place to be.