A mom I know is still breastfeeding her boy at two-years-old, and I’m not judging her. Really. I personally couldn’t handle breastfeeding for two minutes let alone two years so this woman is a saint.
The only thing is that her boy now screams, “Boobee! Boobee!” in public when he’s hungry for milk. He also needs to sleep with her nipple in her mouth all night like it’s a pacifier. I asked her how long she would breastfeed and she responded that people in Uganda breastfeed till their kids are 14. She is one special and dedicated mommy. I just feel bad for those nipples.
In any case she’s probably part of the whole Attachment Parenting movement, which I never fully understood. I think it involves keeping your baby in bed with you and breastfeeding till their pre-teens. Well, maybe I exaggerate. The philosophy suggests you stop breastfeeding when the child decides he or she is ready. It does seems like a sweet way of raising a baby and after doing a little research, here’s what I’ve learned:
Attachment Parenting came about in the 1950’s and was based on animal research by Psychologist John Bowlby. He stated that babies thrive and form healthy attachments later in life when their needs are constantly being met by a caregiver. He said that kids who don’t experience a secure attachment as babies suffer later in life from insecurity, lack of empathy and lack of confidence, and even anger in some cases. In 1993, Dr. William Sears and his wife published The Baby Book, which promoted Attachment Parenting and stirred up debate among parents.
Here are the main eight Attachment Parenting principles:
- Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting — Get prepared for pregnancy and child development emotionally through education, creating a support network and having a positive attitude.
- Feed with Love and Respect — Breastfeeding is promoted as the best way to feed a child. It creates a great bond between mother, fulfilling emotional and nutritional needs. And again, let the baby let you know when he or she is ready to stop breastfeeding.
- Respond with Sensitivity — Recognize that tantrums and all emotions that come up as your baby’s ways to communicate. Be sensitive to their emotions and don’t punish them for them. Also, don’t expect them to self-soothe at this stage. They need your support and help.
- Use Nurturing Touch — Have as much skin to skin time as possible and giving babies physical contact and affection. Wear babies in your wraps, have baths together and offer up hugs and snuggles all day.
- Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally — Don’t ever let a kid cry it out. Co-sleeping is advised so babies can be held and fed through the night. (Though remember that bed-sharing is a big no no according to Western doctors, as it has been proven to increase the risk of SIDS.)
- Provide Consistent and Loving Care — A parent should be around as much as possible and never have childcare for more than 20 hours a week for babies under 30 months old.
- Practice Positive Discipline — Don’t instantly react to a child’s negative behavior. Avoid spanking and work out a solution together with the child while modeling positive behavior.
- Strive for Balance in Your Personal and Family Life — Create a support network and find a work/family balance that prevents burn out and establishes a healthy lifestyle for everyone.