Attachment Parenting: Co-Sleeping

Attachment Parenting. To me, this is one of those terms I sometimes forget exists because it just comes so naturally. I was blessed to be raised with "attachment parenting" and the Continuum Concept in mind. I suppose for me and us - Attachment Parenting isn't so much a choice as it is the way we are. I remember when I was pregnant with Wilder someone asked us what our color theme would be for the baby room. Honestly, the words "baby room" had never even entered my field until that moment. What do you mean? My kid in a separate room?? Lost.

The person who happened to ask is actually quite supportive of the "family bed" culture, but also thought we might have a separate room for the baby's things as well.

Well we are just a few months away from Wilder's 2nd birthday and we still all share the same bed and room. Eventually we'll set him up with a room, but it hasn't felt necessary yet.

Ok back to the subject at hand. Let's say for example that a parent doesn't cosleep with their baby. Then the baby is in a crib in possibly a different part of the house, and needs to eat throughout the night. The parent then has to get up out of bed, travel to another part of the room or another part of the house, get the baby up from lying down and most likely sit up to nurse the baby back to sleep. This sounds like a lot of sleep lost to me :-( To the parent and the baby actually.

When Wilder was a little baby, I always thought it was interesting how many people (and strangers) strike up conversations when you're out and about. "Is he a good baby?" was always an entertaining one to me. Although I never did, I was tempted a few times to respond "No, he's a bad baby" just to see a reaction. What does "good baby" even mean? Clearly I'm a new parent and this child could do no wrong, like at all. Of course he's a good, he's my freaking baby, sheesh!

The other question we often got was "Does he sleep through the night?" Another entertaining one to me honestly. Because Wilder slept right next to me and we would side-lie nurse to go back to sleep, I often wouldn't even remember if he or I had woken up or not. When you have a little baby, people often assume that automatically means you are losing sleep. If I lost any sleep as a new mom, it was because I'd stay up late working, never because my kid woke up crying during the night.

To be completely honest, Wilder still sleeps right next to me and sometimes nurses during the night. To this day some days I wake up not sure if he slept through the night or not.

Before Wilder was born, I only had one experience with someone who used the "cry it out" method. A few of us were in someone's house while this session was happening, and it was the most awkward thing. This poor baby was screaming and crying, and we all had to endure it. It felt so beyond wrong to me, I will never forget that experience.

Something my dear mom said to me while I was still pregnant - If a baby is crying, it's always for a reason. Thank goodness this one stuck with me. Every time Wilder has ever cried throughout his life, I have tried and tried to figure out what was wrong until I can make it better. He's cold, he's hot, he's hungry, he's bored, he's overtired, he doesn't like this blanket, he's teething, he wants to be held, whatever it is. No one taught me or showed me how to do that, it is always a matter of following my instincts. I remember getting frustrated at times with Franky in the early baby days because he wouldn't know what to do to console Wilder. I used to say "I don't know either, I just try everything until something works." I think maternal instinct works at a completely different level when the babies are little, and paternal instinct seems to build as the baby grows. Plus I had the boobs :-)

Cute little cosleepers:

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There have been some great links floating around in cyberspace and in my field lately, on this subject and on the cry-it-out subject. One of the things separating the current humans from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle is the response time to babies needs or cries. Hunter-gatherers always responded immediately to a baby crying or in distress. Studies show that children raised with attachment parenting are more likely to result in a child that is physically and emotionally healthy. Makes sense right?

A great article more on this subject here: http://www.drbenkim.com/articles-attachment-parenting.html

When Wilder was maybe 4 weeks old, I attended a mommys & babies group at a wonderful place called Birth Roots in Portland, Maine. If you are at all interested in becoming pregnant, have a baby, or already have babies, I highly recommend searching for an alternative place like this in your area. It was wonderful to be around other brand new moms with babies of similar ages. This group was 0-3 months, so we had all recently birthed and were navigating this new mom territory.

The awesome lady who led this group gently nudged everyone to explore reasons why the Cry It Out method wasn't the healthiest for our babies. She told us one day that a babies continuous cry is a survival mechanism and can actually be damaging if the baby cries for longer than 5-10 minutes on their own. If a baby cries while being held, it is not damaged because he or she knows they are safe. Longer than 5-10 minutes of crying alone turns into "the need to survive" and can damage the child's emotional or even physical health.

The above link mentions a study that shows health issues being caused by the CIO method. Including things like increased heart rate and blood pressure, reduced oxygen level, brain injury, and cardiac disfunction. It also mentions "interrupted mother-infant interaction." - awesome. Mother-infant interaction!

Here's another great article about the dangers of the Babywise/Cry It Out methods:

http://www.drmomma.org/2009/12/babywise-linked-to-babies-dehydration.html

I have heard a handful of mothers who tried the CIO methods, mention things like "My whole body was saying no", "Every part of me wanted to run into the room and grab them", "I cried just as much listening to my baby cry". Ummmm what?? These are what we call primal instincts that are literally built in to our bodies! We are chemically designed to run and rescue our babies when they are in need!

Another awesome article, mentions this quote.

"There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children." -- Nelson Mandela

There is also a lot of other sweet info on this page: http://www.spiritofilithyia.com/primitive-parenting-disconnect-affects-part-2/

Well, now that I wrote all of that above and still haven't even mentioned the subject of babywearing and childwearing, this has now turned into Part 1!

More to come soon still on the subject of Attachment Parenting - focusing on babywearing and who knows what else.

What have you learned from your experiences or from those around you? I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions below! Please share :-)