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What does 'attachment parenting' have to do with attachment?

​Time Magazine’s May 21st cover story features Dr. William Sears, “the man who remade motherhood” and a pioneer of so-called attachment parenting. The provocative cover photo shows a woman breastfeeding her three-year-old child under the title “Are you mom enough?”

Dr. Sears’ site talks about the 7 “Baby B’s” of attachment parenting: Birth bonding, Breastfeeding, Babywearing, Bedding close to baby, Belief in the value of your baby’s cry, Beware of baby trainers, and Balance.

Critics complain that attachment parenting is essentially a demanding full-time job that most mothers, other than the very privileged, simply don’t have time for. And like everything else in our society, attachment parenting can certainly be taken to highly competitive extremes. Is there anything to this attachment business at all? And is it necessary to follow Dr. Sears’ rules slavishly to achieve it?

There’s no question that attachment is important, even into adulthood. While not every family can (or wants to) breastfeed or “wear” their baby constantly, it’s still crucial to respond appropriately to the baby’s needs and provide them with a sense of security and trust. The good news? Most families manage this just fine, in a way that works for them.

Ultimately, even Dr. Sears emphasizes that attachment parenting is an approach, rather than a strict set of rules. In the words of another baby care guru, Dr. Spock, “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do.”

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AboutKidsHealth Editorial Staff