What Is Attachment Parenting?

Everything you need to know about this sometimes controversial parenting technique

Photograph by Getty Images

As child-rearing techniques go, attachment parenting has always attracted a lot of attention—most recently on the cover of Time magazine, which featured a photo of a 3-year-old child at his mother’s breast. But if you're new to the parenting scene, you might wonder what all the fuss is about. Here's a primer.

The method is based on principles developed in the 1950s by psychiatrist John Bowlby, and It encourages the development of emotional bonds between mother and child through close and constant contact. More recently, 2001’s The Attachment Parenting Book: A Common Sense Guide to Understanding and Nurturing Your Baby by doctors William and Martha Sears, outlines its fundamentals.

Attachment parenting fans include actress Mayim Bialik of Blossom fame, author of "It May Be Time to Wean My Three Year Old," a 2011 article which features a picture of her nursing her son Fred on a New York City subway. “I never ever believed that I would be nursing a child over the age of 3,” she says. “But now that I am … I believe that nursing is natural and beautiful and wonderful.”

Critics include Susan Douglas and Meredith Michaels, co-authors of the 2005 book The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How It Has Undermined All Women. “[Attachment parenting is] as simple as it is impossible,” the book says. “Reattach your baby to your body the moment she is born and keep her there pretty much until she goes to college.”

The following 10 points offer basic guidelines to attachment parenting, according to the Attachment Parenting International website. After reading them, decide for yourself whether you’re a fan or a critic.

Go to the next page to see the 10 basics of attachment parenting ...

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