The recent Time magazine cover photo and article has brought the topic a great deal of publicity and the public seems largely divided with regard to this style of parenting. Amid all the current hype and controversy, do you really know what “Attachment Parenting” is?

Attachment parenting is a phrase coined by pediatrician Dr. William Sears, and is a parenting philosophy based on the principles of the attachment theory in developmental psychology.

Attachment theory proposes that a child forms a strong emotional bond with caregivers during childhood, that has lifelong consequences. Attachment theory stems from psychologist John Bowlby’s studies of maternal deprivation and animal behavior research in the early 1950’s.

Proponents view the nurturing connection at the heart of attachment parenting as the ideal way to raise secure, independent and empathetic children. The case is made that a secure, trusting attachment to parents during childhood forms the basis for adult relationships as well as for independence.

The 8 principles of attachment parenting are:

  • Prepare for pregnancy, birth and parenting
  • Feed with love and respect
  • Respond with sensitivity
  • Use nurturing touch
  • Ensure safe sleep, physically and emotionally
  • Provide consistent and loving care
  • Practice positive discipline
  • Strive for balance in your personal and family life

Dr. Sears streamlined the principles into what he calls the “7 Baby B’s” or “Attachment Tools”:

  • Birth bonding
  • Breastfeeding
  • Baby wearing
  • Bedding close to baby
  • Belief in the language/value of your baby’s cry
  • Beware of baby trainers
  • Balance

The principles at the heart of this parenting style can obviously be interpreted a number of ways. Some choose the options of natural birth, stay-at-home parenting, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, homeschooling, etc.

This topic has clearly been sensationalized lately. Too attached, not attached enough – parenting is challenging, no matter which theories you subscribe to. The sheer number of parenting books in existence, with vastly differing approaches and advice, make choosing any one parenting style next to impossible. It seems that the best advice is to do what works for you and what is best for your family.