I don’t subscribe to following the “rules” laid out by parenting experts. Just because you like one set of advice doesn’t mean you should have to follow all of them, and if something doesn’t feel right to you then just because Gina Ford told you to do it doesn’t mean you have to. If it feels wrong it’s probably wrong.
That said I realised last night that, whilst I’ve never labelled myself before, I’m closest skin to attachment parents.
Last night I felt lonely. The husband is away again and I felt a bit blue so when I went to bed I snuck into Miss Rose’s room, lifted her and her pillow, and smuggled both into my bed. I gently popped her next to me then settled down, listening to baby snores, and reading my very good book.
At one point I pondered whether this was a mistake; I usually only bring her in with me when she specifically requests it. But then, about 50 minutes after we had gone to bed, she started to cry a little. Then, with her eyes still closed, she cried out “mummy mummy mummy” and started pawing round. I gently lay my hand on her, then she snuggled tightly into me and quickly stopped crying and settled back to sleep.
Mummy was there. Whatever had upset her, whatever she needed me for, I was there. She didn’t have to look for me or wonder where I was, she didn’t have to panic that she was frightened and alone. She also didn’t have to wake up fully enough to alert me to her needs. They were just met, I was there.
Growing up my mum worked a lot. I was looked after by various nannies, babysitters and au pairs but generally I was left to my own devices. My mum didn’t know it at the time but I was generally not fed during the day and pretty much ignored. On the days I actually got to be with my mum those were my safe days, my warm days. Days when mummy was there were special and amazing and so important. At night I often snuck into bed with my mum and, as I got older, would lie there wide awake for a long time with my chest against hers just feeling her breathe. The gentle, slow rhythm of my mum. Warm, soft, safe.
The feeling of mum being there is something I want for Miss Rose. I want her to feel safe and warm, day and night.
So, whilst I use a buggy, and she has her own room, and she’s now bottle fed, I believe I am an attachment parent more than any other.
I am also a baby led parent. For a long time I worried about her meeting milestones. I worried she wasn’t crawling, she crawled. I worried she wasn’t eating solids, she ate. I worried she didn’t babble, she babbled. I worried constantly that she wasn’t reaching milestones at the same rate as others, even though she was reaching some ahead of others. She goes at her own pace and it is a pace that is healthy, steady, and right for her.
She has started having night feeds again and snuggles down with a bottle. It is absolutely true that she doesn’t need milk at night anymore, and I could refuse her milk and no harm would come to her. But I don’t. Because if she is happier having a cuddle and a bottle then I’m fine with that. If she has a more settled, comfortable, happy night for it then that’s what I want.
My choice of parenting style wouldn’t work for everyone but it works for us. She’s a very confident and happy little person and perhaps if I parented differently she wouldn’t be. But what I know is that for us this feels right. Every child is different. Every parent is different. This is us. It works. And I get guilt free snoozy baby cuddles through the night which I love.
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Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!