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Attachment Parenting {Do We, or Don’t We}?

20100517_3049 blog
Tilly, age 11 

Now we need to take a break in our baby story telling to answer another question that has come up in the comments. Do we practice attachment parenting? Rather than answer that yes or no (and since it's a philosophy, therefore open to interpretation) let me just say what we do and don't do as parents.

We do:

*sleep with our babies 

     Why? Because it makes the baby happy, and makes nighttime nursing 100 times easier for me. Chuck gets to bond with the baby, and the baby learn to recognize daddy and his scent. Chuck works construction, so sometimes in the summer he doesn't get home until the children are in their jammies and ready for bed. This gives the baby plenty of time with him. 

     We have personally had no trouble transitioning our babies to their own cribs/beds. I believe this is because the baby usually naps in his/her crib. Therefore, the baby is perfectly used to sleeping by themselves. As the baby gets a bit older we begin putting the baby into the crib at night and he/she sleeps there until he wakes for his first feeding. After that, he stays in bed with us for the rest. This gives the baby "practice" sleeping in his crib, and us a few hours before we have our little visitor.

*exclusively breastfeed and believe in baby-led weaning

I have breastfed all of my babies (including the adopted ones). I know all about how difficult it can be. Adalia was 2 1/2 weeks early, tiny, and sleepy. Nursing her took every ounce of determination I had. The same tenacity that got me through her labor, got me through those first months of nursing. It was difficult and painful and generally miserable. But we made it past that (with zero supplements) and she went on to nurse for nearly a year. My babies have nursed from 6 months (Judah and Enoch who both had siblings on the way by the time they were 3 months old) to a year and a half for the rest. None of the babies have taken pacifiers or had supplements.

* hold our babies a lot

You won't see us hauling our babies around in carseats or strollers. Why? No particular reason other than I like to hold my babies, and they like to  be held. My two favorite baby carriers are the Maya Wrap and Ergo.

* I don't leave my  babies (even with Chuck) until they are old enough to survive a few hours without nursing

It seems to me that God designed babies and mothers perfectly…I can't leave my two week old baby because they need to nurse frequently. I can take a shower, or a nap, not not drive off alone. As the baby gets bigger, I can be gone for longer and longer periods. So, in essence, the baby is attached to me until he/she is old enough to predictably go a few hours without eating.

*We do believe in bedtime

As you know if you are a regular reader all of our children, teens included are in bed at 8 o'clock (and up at 7 AM). The older ones read or listen to music. This gives Chuck and I time alone as a couple and me a few precious child-free hours

* We keep our children with us in church

Everyone from the baby, to restless toddlers and social teens sit with us. We don't put the little ones in the nursery or have our older ones sit with friends.

*We believe in saying no and enforcing boundries…including blanket time

Blanket time is what we call training a toddler to stay and play on a blanket. It is wonderful for focus, concentration and self-discipline. 

I hope that answers the question of whether or not we practice "attachment parenting"


  1. Carolina Murphy

    I have a question about what you do and don’t do. A while ago I left a comment on your blog about “computer time”. Are your children allowed to use the computer? If so, how much time do you allow? What are your rules about email/facebook and such? I’m only asking this question because I have a 15 year old daughter who has been on the computer constantly lately, because she’s always wanting to talk to her friend from out of town.

  2. Cutzi

    I really appreciated this Renee. I think so often we get into these labels… attachment, babywise, etc. etc. It’s so much better to take the things that work well for us, for our babies and for our families and just do them. So often, it separates people when we use labels. Lately, I tell people I “put my babies on a schedule” – I’ve had people get little feisty when I say we’ve used principles from Babywise. But the truth is, what we do with our infants doesn’t sound all that different from what you do with yours. In the end – they sleep on their own, they know boundaries, mama and papa get time on their own, they’re well adjusted and well-slept, they’re loved…
    So thanks for sharing this.

  3. TonyM

    The bedtime @ 8pm is a bit shocking for me. From about the age of 6, I was given responsibility for my own bedtime. Of course, at first I tried staying up really late, but after feeling so tired that quickly stopped. I was praised for picking a reasonable time, and got some ‘cold’ looks if I choose a time too late. I ended up feeling really grown-up about choosing my own bedtime, and it was a matter of pride to stick to it. Self discipline is one of the greatest life skills.

  4. Nicole

    Yeah, the bedtime at 8pm is the only thing that really sounds strict to me. I would think the littler ones would have to be in bed by then, but the older ones would just have to be quiet or something like that. I guess if they read or listen to music in bed though that’s kind of similar.

  5. Sarah

    I think you are nice for an 8 pm bed. You don’t get that privledge until you are 7 in our house. Other wise it’s 7pm. Also, it’s easier to let one or two kids be self directed for bed times verses the GROUP. Because the GROUP might not survive until the next day if there wasn’t bed time!!!
    Any way, I wanted to say, I totally fed my babes in bed and they go every where with me. However, they don’t sleep through the night very well, and I’ve found more than one time someone on the floor with a sleeping bag and pillow. I have no clue what I did wrong. I thought maybe it was because they slept with me, but with my foster babe he never slept with us. Now that he’d adopted he could – but he doesn’t sleep through the night either!!! So it must be us right? :). I am bummed he missed out on sleeping with us – I thought he would move to a different home so I didn’t want to establish things with him that the other home might not do. Oh well.

  6. BNH

    Love your blog, It always gives me great ideas!!
    I agree with all of these, you have to do what works for you as a parent as well as your hubs and kids. 8;00 doesnt sound strict to me. The older kids get much needed winding down time and the little ones get their much needed rest. Tonym I agree that Self discipline is one of the greatest life skills but kids the age of 6 need about 9 to 11 hours of sleep to develop and function properly. Anyone who has had a sleep deprived crabby 6 year old can atest to this lol =)
    ON A SIDENOTE:Mordecai is missing from the meet the kids section 🙁

  7. JCF

    We have pretty much the exact same infant sleep philosophy. It gets everyone more sleep, and we’ve also had no trouble transitioning the kids to cribs eventually. Like your kids, ours have always napped in cribs and then gradually stayed in the crib longer and longer as they slept longer stretches. I just don’t want to be back and forth between a kid’s room and ours all night long.

  8. Kara

    Sounds like us, too. Except I had hospital births and they gave my babes the pacifier that we still struggle with 3 years later, booo. I think I’ll come out with a brand of pacifier call the YERTLE (You’ll eventually regret this later, eh).

  9. anna

    How do you enforce blanket time? I’ve really only heard that in conjunction with parents who are big believers in corporal punishment, even for infants.
    The way I’ve heard of blanket time is that you hit the baby with a spoon or similar instrument whenever it wanders off the blanket. Some parents claim they just scream at the child, while others say they take the (IMO) reasonable step of redirecting the baby onto the blanket. I am talking about infants, not toddlers.
    “Blanket time” is a pretty controversial issue in the “mainstream” world and I think it would benefit from any attempts to clarify the intents, practices and realities of it.

  10. Ingrid

    Anna, I’ve trained babies and toddlers whom I’ve babysat to stay in one place for a while, such as on a blanket. I did it by simply picking them up and putting them back each time they wandered off. (I learned it from watching an episode of one of those nanny-rescue shows — it was the technique she taught the parents for enforcing bedtime.) Eventually they figure out that it doesn’t work to wander off. That’s the same way I trained toddlers as to the boundaries of the area they could run around in at the park — that’s why I could take three of them at once to the park and sit on a bench and rest.
    Renee, I would love to sleep with my babies when I have them, but I’ve been afraid that I would roll over on them in my sleep, or smother them with the blankets, or push them onto the floor. How do you avoid these things happening?

  11. Renee

    Well, we dont start blanket time until our children are toddlers…by then they understand what stay on the blanket means. They are in a room with the rest of us, not isolated- so it is no problem to put them right back on if they leave. In our house toddlers generally love blanket time because then no one can take the toys their playing with!
    Sent from my iPhone

  12. Renee

    I am always very, very aware of where my baby is. I am blessed/cursed to be a very lidgt sleeper. Every little sound or movement wakes me up.
    Sent from my iPhone

  13. joabair

    I wake up so easily also! Just my child stepping out of bed in dif bedroom wakes me tho we all sleep with fans on in our rooms. The blanket time is amazing, my life was easier by doing this. I could go anywhere with my toddlers, well actually from walking age on for mine (8 mo and 9 mo) and they would stay put, didnt ever stray or refuse to come to me if I called bc they were well trained.
    We do 7 pm bedtime but bc they are 7 and 9, they stay up playing together quietly, listen to music and read books. Even tho I have only 2, in a marriage you need time to yourselves for good healthy marriage. In my opinion… I love your philosophies! I used to think self chosen bedtime was best, but my son can stay up all night and always has been that way.

  14. Anna

    That watermelon looks delicious! The picture is making my mouth water 🙂
    I try to put the baby (11 months) to bed at 6 and the 5 year old down at 7. We’re all up at 7am (and the baby’s up once most nights to nurse still).
    With my first, he slept in his own bed. DH was afraid he’d squish him. With my second, DH slept on the pull out couch in the basement so that I could sleep with the baby. He was colicky so that was the only way for me to get any sleep. He napped in his crib or bassinet, or with me if I was lucky enough to be able to nap with him. At about 6 or 8 weeks, when the colic was better, I moved him to the crib so DH could come back to bed 🙂
    I’ve never heard of a self-chosen bedtime. I NEED that quiet time in the evenings.

  15. Susann Gehring

    I very much enjoy reading this!! We became “attachment parents” just by parenting the way we thought was right. Then I discovered attachment parenting. While I can’t breastfeed our foster babies (I would if I could) we had the always have the babies sleep in our room till one and they have to move. All our babies and toddlers are worn in a sling, although you will find me with our double stroller when out at a ball park or pool or mall. Good for hauling all the other stuff!! and good for sleeping babies.
    Funny our first baby (biological) slept with us, had no bed time, just went to bed when we did. At four he moved to his own bed on his own time. But now with with 5 kids, our little ones are in bed by 7:00 p.m. The 8 year old 8:30 and the oldest goes at 10:00. This gives us time to talk to the boys about life .

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