Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Why Attachment Parenting and Co-Sleeping Are the Right Choice For Us

Before I had Orlaith, I always said that I would never be one of those parents who let their kids sleep in bed with them until... who knows when? I had the perceived notion that co-sleeping was a bad thing due to the social stigma attached to it. I didn't really research any parenting styles while I was pregnant. Honestly, it never occurred to me. Once Orlaith was here in my arms, I would trust my instincts and we would get by doing what felt right to our family. What felt right ended up being attachment parenting, even though I didn't really know what that was at the time. I heard the term attachment parenting being thrown around, and I decided to learn more about it. Imagine my surprise to learn that I was already doing it!

So, what exactly is attachment parenting? It seems to mean a lot of things to a lot of different people. Dr. Sears has a great article called the 7 Baby B's. Here is the gist of AP:

1. Birth Bonding - This means bonding with baby immediately after birth. If there is a medical emergency that prevents this, catch-up bonding will occur as soon as you and your baby can be together.

This happened with me. I had hemorrhaging after delivery and I wasn't able to bond with O for 2 hours while they were working on me. As soon as they were done with me, I wanted my baby girl. I wanted to breastfeed her. The nurses looked at me like I was crazy, but I didn't care. It was what felt right. I needed to be close to my baby and feed her.

2. Breastfeeding - This helps you read your baby's cues and body language. You will get to know your baby better. This is also nutritionally superior.

Even though I have had difficulty with my supply, I never gave up. Orlaith is 6 months old now and we are still breastfeeding. I have no plans to stop anytime soon either. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for at least one year, while the 1st 6 months are exclusive. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for the first 2 years. I plan on letting O self-wean. She will give it up when she is good and ready, and not a minute sooner.

3. Baby Wearing - Carried babies learn more and fuss less. It also helps parents be more sensitive to their baby's needs.

It took us a bit to find a sling that O liked AND was comfy for me. The answer? The Balboa Baby sling designed by none other than Dr. Sears himself. I was a little amused at how much Dr. Sears kept popping up for me. We still use the sling all the time. When we go shopping, I wear O in the sling instead of keeping her strapped in a car seat in the cart. She never makes a peep. She snuggles up against me and soaks in the world around her, and all the while I have 2 free hands.

4. Bedding Close to Baby - This helps busy parents reconnect with their babies at night. It also minimizes separation anxiety and assists babies in learning that sleep is a happy, pleasant thing.

We started off using a co-sleeper bassinet. I only found out much later that Dr. Sears recommends this co-sleeper as well. It sits even with the bed and Orlaith was right there next to me all night. We used the co-sleeper until she was 3 1/2 months old. That is when we switched to co-sleeping in the bed. Even our pediatrician said that the risk of SIDS decreases dramatically around this age since babies can move easier on their own.

I could write a whole other article just on the benefits of co-sleeping. I LOVE it and will not stop just because people think I am making a stupid decision. The truth is that people don't understand the benefits. To me, they far outweigh the fact that we will have to eventually move O to her own bed. Is it possible that could be difficult? Of course, but I DON'T CARE. There is nothing more natural than snuggling my baby close to me all night. When she wakes up, Mommy and Daddy are right there to see the smile that lights up her adorable face. There is no crying, only her face lighting up when she sees us. Please stop with the comments - "You will regret that" or "That's a BIG mistake". I don't believe you.

For more detailed information on the benefits of co-sleeping (health and emotional), please read this article

5. Belief in the Language Value of Your Baby's Cry - In simple terms, this is how babies communicate. They are dependant on us for survival. If you respond sensitively to your babies needs, they trust in you and your ability to respond to their needs. The result is a baby who trusts you and cries less. Babies cry to communicate, not manipulate. Allowing a baby to "Cry It Out" is more harmful to your relationship than you realize, and in the end will only result in a baby that cries more often because they don't feel secure that their needs will be met.

I have never, and will never let Orlaith "CIO". I feel that this is harmful to our relationship and her trust in me. By meeting her needs and not allowing her to cry needlessly, I have a baby who is very happy and has a great temperament. She smiles non-stop and only cries if something is truly wrong. So don't tell me it is good for her lungs or that she has to learn to cry because that is a total crock of poo.

6. Beware of Baby Trainers - Stay away from the rigid baby "trainers" that want you to clock watch instead of read your baby's cues. You might have heard of them. This is the Cry It Out (CIO) crowd... Babywise, The Ferber Method or any other "method" that tries to undermine your natural instincts in caring for your baby.

As I said previously, CIO is harmful to your baby. I have not and will not partake in it. I think it is downright cruel. Studies have shown that babies who have been left to CIO have lifelong emotional scars, and it results in feelings of insecurity and abandonment. It can be stressful to the point of increasing blood pressure and heart rate.

Here is a great article that discusses the pro's and con's of both CIO and AP As you will notice, even though there are negatives listed under AP, none if them are emotionally or medically scarring.

Another popular sleep method, Babywise, has been linked to dehydration and failure to thrive. Read about that here

7. Balance - Do not forget to take care of yourself and your marriage. Partaking in AP does not mean saying yes to baby every time, all the time. You will learn there are times when it is appropriate to say "No" to baby and that there are times to ask for help.

In short, I fell into AP quite by accident. It was what felt right to our family. I truly believe in it's benefits as I have witnessed them first hand. I love that the style is meant to bring the parent-baby bond closer together so that you can understand each other to the fullest. It is a way to learn about and trust in one another. After all, this is my child we are talking about... not a puppy who needs to be "trained".

Just because I believe in AP, doesn't mean I look down on other parenting methods (CIO aside). I am always willing to share my experiences, but I have no need or desire to talk badly about someone else's parenting choices just because they are not the same as my own. I wrote this in order to talk about AP and our experiences with it, not as a means to say everyone should practice it. It works for our family, and it works well. If I can educate just one person who was curious about AP, or had never heard of it, then I have done my job. The power in pregnancy and parenting is educating yourself and knowing your options. Never settle. Always strive.

For the full article on the 7 Baby B's by Dr. Sears, click here

Friday, June 18, 2010

Half a Year... Already!

I can't believe my sweet, baby girl is already 6 months old today! I can't say it enough... time flies! Orlaith passed her 6 month check up with flying colors. She is doing perfectly well. She barely whimpered when she got her shot too. So brave! The paper on the examination table was a heck of a hit. She went to town on it, ripping it to shreds and attempting to eat it at one point. It was very cute! O now weighs 15 lbs 10 oz, is 26 inches long and her head is 43.5 cm.

I started feeding her pureed vegetables at 5 months. So far she has had peas, carrots, green beans, squash and spinach. She has loved all of them! We have also been giving her organic brown rice cereal. Last week, I let her try a tiny taste of Baba Ganoush when we were out to eat. She didn't seem to mind it. I am determined to raise a foodie!

Orlaith can roll both ways, rotate on her belly and scoot around (mostly backwards). She is working on sitting up, but doesn't quite have the hang of that yet. She can stay up for a couple of seconds and then she gets wobbly. Bath time is still her favorite time of day. She loves to splash in the water and laughs at me when I sing her silly, made up songs. I am glad to know she is still too little to know how horribly I sing! She also loves to play in her jumparoo. She is finally big enough to reach the ground!

We read a book every night. She loves looking at the pictures and tries to grab the them. I got her a few touch and feel books so that when she grabs, there is actually something there! We are still cloth diapering and I wouldn't have it any other way. It really is easy, and an extra load of laundry every 2-3 days is no big deal. Plus, we haven't had any blow outs with cloth. They keep everything in, unlike disposables!

Orlaith is still enchanted with the cats. Last night I was laying with her in bed. Noodle walked up to her and sniffed her forehead. Between the cold nose, soft fur and whiskers, it tickled O. She let out the cutest giggle ever, and then reached for the cat. She has been feeling their fur, but hasn't grabbed or been too rough... yet. I am sure that day will come soon enough.
I am enjoying every moment of raising my precious little girl! She always manages to amaze me every day. I love her gummy smile. When she is super happy, she squints her eyes really hard while she smiles. Her personality is wonderful. I couldn't ask for a better daughter!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Rolly O!

Orlaith loving the live music at Lee Harvey's!

Wednesday night Brian and I had Orlaith laying in the middle of our bed. We were playing with her and tickling her. She is super ticklish and her laugh is the best sound ever! She has been trying to roll from her back to her tummy for a while now, but her arm always got stuck underneath her. She tried a couple of times in front of us both and kept getting stuck. Then she tried again, and pulled the arm out and proudly put it in front of her! I was so happy that Brian and I both got to see this. milestone

Last night after her bath, we laid her in the crib for a few minutes. We lay her on her back, wind up the mobile and let her watch the elephants. She loves doing this! I came in a few minutes later to check on her... and she was on her tummy batting around at the elephants on her bedding. So cute! She can already rotate around and scoot a little bit. It is only a matter of time before she figures out how to crawl!