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Does attachment parenting mean always doing what the child wants?

(17 Posts)
Cbell Tue 05-Jul-11 21:03:54

My DD is 6 mo tomorrow and she is lovely. Me and my DH have followed an AP approach.

Over the first 4 months I felt I could operate on instinct and everything was going well. She BF's beautifully. We didn't co-sleep because I sleep less well with her in the bed but she sleep fine in a cot next to me. I felt confident saying we are responsive parents and had a happy little girl.

However, recently we've hit issues concerning sleep and I feel like I am pushing her away. She started waking every hour. She would sometimes be settled with a dummy but more often she wants my boob. If she sleeps in bed with me (DH on floor) then she sleeps a little better - or she's easier to comfort and I feel guilty because this isn't what I want.

I want her in her own bed. In her own room. I want to sleep more and I want to sleep with my DH. But each time I think about doing ST I feel like I am going to damage her or damage our precious bond. She trusts me and I don't want this to change.

So I go back to my initial question 'Does AP mean always doing what the child wants?

Words of wisdom from folks who have followed this approach would be welcome

fluffycauliflower Tue 05-Jul-11 21:32:22

My youngest child is aged 7 now. she was quite a bad sleeper at about 9 months, waking every hour, I got really exhausted and in the end did controlled crying- basically left her to cry herself to sleep. She settled down very quickly after about one night of that. she is the most affectionate and loving of all my children, giving me regular hugs and kisses and telling me she loves me. I think the controlled crying helped us both - I couldn't be a good mum on such little sleep, and she needed better sleep too. I think that kids need boundaries as well as constant love - we need to teach them the boundaries. Hope this helps.

cory Wed 06-Jul-11 08:22:21

I think you will soon have a line of attachment parents queuing up to say "no, it doesn't mean always doing as the child wants". If you think about it- that would preclude AP parents ever having more than one child, as the interests of siblings invariably clash at some point. Attachment parenting as I understand it is about meeting everybody's needs.

Not sure what the actual practical solution is in your case: just wanted to reassure you that there are lots of different ways of meeting your child's needs and retaining a close bond.

Bumpsadaisie Wed 06-Jul-11 12:21:42

It depends on the age of the child.

We always tried to be very responsive to DD (now 25 months). At 6 months we felt we needed our bed back and DD in her own room. You inevitably feel a separation and like she is moving onto a new phase. Its new for both of you but don't underestimate the strength and solidness of your attachment. Your relationship with her is strong, not fragile.

As she grows you are going to have to find a balance between being responsive and loving and setting boundaries and very gradually expecting more of her. There is inevitably a bit of a process of trial and error in finding out what she is ready for.

Mine is just over two now and sometimes I do have to insist on things. She is not happy and often is downright cross with me. It doesn't stop her loving me or being delighted to see me in the morning or me being her favourite "mummy jumby" which is her nickname for me. As a parent I've discovered that you have to bear your child's anger without thinking that your relationship is going to ruined forever. After all, children love their parents to bits - even in extreme cases where the parents are abusive and chaotic, children still hang on in there. It takes a lot to make a child not love its mother. They also need you to be able to "survive" their anger and to know that you are confident in the relationship and the love between you no matter what a little pain they have been that day!

Your DD is still very little so, with the transition to her own room, you are at the very very start of the journey of expecting her to start to fit in a tiny bit more than she could be expected to do as a tiny baby. I would continue to be very responsive and not let her cry. But you can keep returning to comfort her, but ultimately keep on putting her back in her own bed. Give it a good try. If its totally desperate and just not working and making you both really upset, perhaps think again and try later.

Are you sure its not being in your bed that is making her wake? Are you sure she isn't hungry/thirsty? Have you just made the transition to weaning? Entering a big new stage (eg solids, crawling, walking, language explosion) often sends sleep to pot anyway! You could be hitting one of the "sleep setbacks" that most babies have anway, regardless of the move.

I think you should carry on trusting your instincts. I would never have left DD to cry until recently. Now she is two though it is so different, she understands what I am saying to her, she understands that I have a permanence even when I am not physically present. She sometimes is a bit hyper and won't settle - so I leave her shouting "mummy" for a few minutes and then go back in for a cuddle, at which point she is ready to calm down and go to sleep. This would just not have worked eg at 18 months when she would just have got hysterically upset with genuine separation anxiety.

Give it a go with the own room thing - you can always fine tune your approach if needed. And be confident in your bond.

Bumpsadaisie Wed 06-Jul-11 12:27:02

Dont forget too to listen to your instinct that is telling you that you now want your DH and your bed back - that's important. You would never have felt that when she was 8 weeks old/3 months old.

I think your feelings are a sign that you are feeling its time to expect her to move on a bit and that she might be ready to give it a try.

schmarn Wed 06-Jul-11 17:12:04

The way I would try to look at it is whether it is any less unfair on DD for her to be so dependent on you that she cries every time she wakes up in the night seeking your comfort. While you can quickly comfort her, that is exhausting for you and it entrenches a habit on her part that is exhausting and upsetting for her also.

I'm certainly not saying that you should leave her to cry indefinitely, you have to find your own way that you are happy with but you shouldn't think to yourself that you are a cruel mother for trying to move her into her own room because she is bound to cry. Once she is settled in her own room and sleeping soundly, she will be happier than she is now desperately looking for your comfort everytime she wakes up.

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Thu 07-Jul-11 09:52:42

I think bumpsadaisy makes some good points. I would just add though that 6m is still quite young and lots of lo's go through sleep regressions for a while after this, so don't be disheartened if her sleep worsens before it gets better. It is more likely to be related to something developmental than something you do. We have always found cosleeping the easiest way to cope when nights are tough.

Weather she goes in her own room or not, it might not be forever, but it will all get there in the end. smile

Re your question, no, attachment parenting means being responsive to your lo's needs. Which may or may not mean doing "what they want"

Bumpsadaisie Thu 07-Jul-11 11:33:46

I agree about going back to co-sleeping if you hit a bad phase. My DD generally slept in her own room from about 6 months, though would often wake and need a cuddle/her dummy.

During the "sleep regressions" though (seem to remember these at 9 months, 13 months and then a month from hell at 18 months when she was up from 2 to 5am every night!) we would initially try to get her to go back to bed but if it was turning into a long haul, she would come in with me and DH would decamp to the spare bed.

It didn't seem to set any precedents and she would just come out of the bad phase and start sleeping OK again.

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Thu 07-Jul-11 13:06:31

argh...the 18m one may be just around the corner for us...hopefully it will un-regress by the time dc2 arrives!

PoppyDoolally Thu 07-Jul-11 15:35:13

Hi I really feel for you, I'm going through v similar with my 6month ds. I have had first few days back in room with hubby during the week. I felt time was right to have sone element of separation as I ebf no bottle and starting to feel lack of sleep as he wakes me at night even if just groaning or kicking! I feel I'm now able to be more responsive during the day. the main thing I think is to be led by how you feel rather than theory. X

NormanTebbit Thu 07-Jul-11 15:45:50

If you put her in her own room you may find you both sleep better. It won't damage her in any way at all.

From her point of view she is sleeping in a different perhaps quieter place. If she cries she knows she will get a response. So there - a happy child.

Trust your instincts

Bumpsadaisie Thu 07-Jul-11 15:59:51

Moonface - I don't envy you! With DD it was just before her "language explosion". You might not go through it, fingers crossed!

When is your DC2 due? Mine is due in Oct. DD sleeps very well now but am convinced she will pull some appalling sleeping out of the bag just to coincide with DC2s arrival!

MoonFaceMamaaaaargh Thu 07-Jul-11 16:07:49

Bumpsadaisie...Sept 30th (though I suspect a little earlier than that...)

How old will your dd be?

Ds sleeps better than ever since the 15m crazyness regression...only one night waking and a few bf's in the two months since. I have jinxed this now haven't I grin

Bumpsadaisie Fri 08-Jul-11 09:29:52

Exciting! Mine is due Oct 19th - DD with be 2 yrs 4 or 5 months.

Sometimes I do wonder what I'm letting myself in for - DD now sleeps well etc, why on earth am I putting myself through it again! No, I wouldn't change it for the world.

Piccadilly Fri 08-Jul-11 09:42:35

Firstly, I would say ideas from attachment parenting are a tool for you to use as you find them useful - there is no exam at the end to decide if you were a high-flying attachment parent or not!
Secondly, as everyone has said already, it is all about your relationship with your lo. You know instinctively what is best for your relationship and the relationship involves two people. You have to function together and as a parent I think you just have to think hard about what is important to both of you and rely on your own judgement to find the best way through.
Of course attachment parenting is about being close, but there isn't only one way of being close - it's hard work and you have to work on lots of fronts - but you don't have to work on all fronts! I have found I've got amazing closeness from eye contact with my kids - from the first day until now where dd is nearly 6. You know which things make you feel close with your baby - do the things that make you feel close and to feel even closer do those things more. If co-sleeping doesn't do it for you, then doing it more will just make you tired and grumpy! Have a giggle together instead!

Piccadilly Fri 08-Jul-11 09:55:09

Oh and Bumpsadaisie and MoonFaceMama, in my experience Dads are called for here (sorry this is an insensitive thing to say if you're single parents). When my dc2 was born, dc1's sleeping became dh's job. Dh and dd developed a very tender co-sleeping habit which has been known to drive DH insane (she kicks a lot in the night!). But it was really what dd needed. And whilst AP definitely doesn't mean you have to do all the kid wants - and my dh hates books and "parenting techniques" - there is this thing paternal instinct which means he gave dd the cuddles she needed to make her feel comforted and not pushed out as a new big-sister.

friendcat Fri 08-Jul-11 10:19:07

My 6 mo has just gone into his own room, next to ours (I can still hear him snuffling!) He does moan a bit, and we just can't bring ourselves to let him cry himself to sleep which seems really wrong, even if its given a legitimising title "controlled crying".

What we do is go to him, taking turns, if it sounds like his 'chuntering' is turning into crying (because we've noticed he will 'talk' to himself to keep himself company), and without turning on a light we'll say quietly "its okay, we're here". Smooth his little brow and leave the room. We do this same routine for as long as it takes, and he has settled into sleeping pretty well. He knows we are close by and are trusting him to settle himself, without him feeling like he is alone and has no choice.

I'm sure there is a growth spurt happening around the 6 month time so maybe your LO needs extra sustenance from you, I know that this can be unsettling as he will be tired and hungry sad

Good luck for a good nights sleep eventually!

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