Add Alanis Morissette to the list of celebs who are taking the attachment parenting approach to child rearing. The "Jagged Little Pill" singer appeared on Chelsea Lately last night and shared her experience with her drug-free and natural birth, the family bed, and and how she and husband Mario "MC Souleye" Treadway maintain their sex life with 18-month-old Ever in their bed.
This morning, Time magazine's cover mom went on the Today show to share her views on attachment parenting and explain the story behind the cover photo. She was joined by her 3-year-old son, Aram, Dr. Sears, and Time's science editor, Jeffrey Kluger.
"I understand some of the breastfeeding advocates are upset about this," 26-year-old Jamie Grumet said. "[The cover image] doesn't show the nurturing side to attachment parenting . . . I understand what they're saying, but I do understand why Time chose this picture. It's created a real media craze to get the dialogue going."
"You need to do what's best for your baby and for your own family," Grumet continued. "You can take some of Dr. Sears's attachment parenting philosophies and maybe not others, and that's OK; you're not a bad parent. Your child will still be OK."
Does seeing the young mother speak about her reasons for practicing attachment parenting (her own mom breastfed her until age 6) change your opinion of the magazine cover?
This week's Time cover story, which hits newsstands tomorrow, takes a closer look at the practice of attachment parenting, discussing Dr. Sears's
The Baby Book, and profiling four mothers from across the country who embrace the philosophy — all for different reasons.
The magazine's cover image of LA mom Jamie Lynne Grumet breastfeeding her 3-year-old son (paired with the tagline, "Are You Mom Enough?") has stirred up a fair amount of controversy amongst moms, who have yet to read the story. "When you think of breastfeeding, you think of mothers holding their children, which was impossible with some of these older kids," said photographer Martin Schoeller. "I liked the idea of having the kids standing up to underline the point that this was an uncommon situation."
What's your reaction to the cover as a whole? Does it glorify attachment parenting, make moms feel judged, or offer an accurate portrayal of the practice in action?
Mayim Bialik is no stranger to controversy. The Big Bang Theory actress and former Blossom star is quickly becoming the poster child for attachment parenting with the release of her new memoir, Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way, out today. In the book, the mom of two — to Miles, 6, and Frederick, 3 — who holds a PhD in neuroscience, recounts her beliefs in carrying her children for most of their first year (rarely putting them down), breastfeeding on demand (she's nursing her 3-and-a-half-year-old), elimination communication (no diapers after the first year), unschooling, and creating a family bed. Her lifestyle isn't for the faint of heart, and after showing it off on Nightline last night, she's coming under fire.
During her conversation with Juju Chang, she discussed the hostile way parents critique each other's parenting choices, saying, "Women have taken office politics and transported them to our homes and to our social circles. You're either right or you're wrong."
Do you agree with Mayim's assessment of why parents are so quick to criticize?
No two parenting styles are exactly alike, but most families follow some variation of, "Eat your vegetables, go to bed at a reasonable time, and don't watch too much TV." They adjust their parenting style to fit the needs and personalities of their individual kids. However, some parents adhere to much more clearly defined — what some would consider extreme — parenting philosophies.
Did you adhere to any of these?
Months of interrupted sleep take their toll on new parents. But what can be even more stressful is the parade of people telling you to just CIO, or "cry it out:" your pediatrician, best friends, the grandparents, and even strangers in the grocery store check-out line who spot you with your baby and those bags under your eyes.
The idea behind CIO (also known as "controlled crying" or "Ferberizing") is that you put your baby in the crib, awake, and after her bedtime ritual, let her wail herself to sleep. You do this every night until she learns to go to sleep without crying. Proponents of let-your-baby-cry sleep training methods say that in no time you'll wind up with lots more shut-eye (for you) and a happy, well-rested baby who has learned to self-soothe in the process.
But a resounding cry from a large group Circle of Moms members suggests that CIO is just plain wrong. As mom-of-one Veronica R. emphatically puts it, "I think it's cruel. I refuse to do it. Won't, won't, won't. I think it will ruin my attachment parenting bond with my daughter. Out of the question for me."
Many Circle of Moms members who have tried "cry it out" sleep training report that their sympathy and frustration for their balling babies (whose crying went on for what felt like hours) caused them to lie in bed fighting their own tears. "Letting my baby cry it out makes me sad," says Melissa J.
"I refuse to do this because I think babies under age one or so lack communication skills, and when they cry they are crying for basic needs," says Stephanie H. "There were many nights where my daughter would just cry when she was about six months old, and as much as I was frustrated, I would just sit in the recliner and rock her. I know in my heart that it was right for me to do it that way."
The central question about CIO sleep training (is it common sense parenting or bordering on abusive?) divides experts as roundly as it does moms.
A recent study by the Murdoch Children's Research Institute finds that "controlled crying" to help infants sleep does not lead to emotional and behavioral problems later on. On the other hand, child development experts including Dr. Penelope Leach (author of the 1977 book Your Baby and Child: From Birth to Age Five), insist that letting babies cry at night for lengthy periods of time can be damaging to their brains and psyches. Leach recently told the Daily Mail that this is "not an opinion but a fact that it's potentially damaging to leave babies to cry."
Experts aside, many Circle of Moms members say that letting a baby cry is just plain cruel. Crying is a baby's sole way of signaling when he or she is uncomfortable or distressed, they say. As Katy explains it, "Babies are not developmentally ready at three or four months to soothe themselves. They need your love and attention. They're not spoiled and you won't be spoiling them. There is a real reason he is crying. Even if he just wants to be held, he needs it."
Jaime G. echos her opposition, explaining that a baby's trust in the world is at stake: "By leaving them alone you just teach them the world is not a safe place and parents are not going to be there. The baby is not manipulative. He is crying because he needs something."
And Allison B. is adamantly opposed to the letting an infant cry it out because of the potential for damaging "the baby's relationship with his or her mother." She says that "Babies need unconditional love and support from their caregivers. 'Tough love' can come later once they are older."
Siobhan T. suggests that moms who don't like the idea of crying it out should experiment with whatever calming methods work for the baby—and for them.
"What I found worked with my daughter was to give her a warm bath, put the lights on low and sit in her room reading a book," says Siobhan, about her infant daughter. "Once that was over we would put her in her crib. I had to accept the fact that I couldn't dictate when she got tired so we had to wait some nights until she was ready. I had to watch her for the cue to start bedtime. Luckily it started coming at around the same time every night. I'd try something like this before letting a baby cry it out."
For another perspective, see 3 Ways to Make Crying It Out Easier.
Do you think it's cruel to let a baby "cry it out?"
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.
Hands off the newborn baby, please.
That's what many moms who have just given birth would like to say to all the well wishers who want to cuddle and snuggle their recently-arrived bundles of joy.
"I was comfortable with the six-week rule," posts Marina G. in the Debating Mums community. "I just don't see the need to expose my newborn to everyone else's germs unless it is absolutely necessary."
I tend to agree with her. But I extend the "not exposing to everyone else's germs" long past the first month of life. Frankly, I feel that way about all the members of my family — not matter what their age.
What is it about a new baby that cause people to loose their senses and their respect for basic boundaries?
Everyone wants to hold, to touch, to coo at the latest model. Poor kid is more crowded than when in utero.
Yes, it is wonderful to hold a young life. There is an amazing warmth and joy wrapped up in a child that has recently come into the world.
But leave the first traces of all that happiness to the child's parents for at least a little while. Let mom and dad and immediate family relish in the excitement of a new member in the clan.
All too quickly everyone else — daycare providers, church nursery workers, babysitters, mom and dad's co-workers, that nice lady from down the street whose first name you cannot remember, and preschool teachers — will make their way into the new child's life and forever end this peaceful time when it is just the three of you: mom, dad, and baby.
These new faces are all crucially important in this child's development. But not at one week or even one month of life. The rest of us need to leave some space for the bonds between child and parent to grow and be strengthened.
Give parents and a new baby some time to get to know each other before the rest of us intrude.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.
Trying to decide what kind of baby carrier to use? Circle of Moms members break down the pros and cons of four popular baby wearing options.
Many moms find that sling carriers (from pouch styles to ring slings) are ideal for carrying newborns, but less convenient for heavier babies. As Jen R. shared: “I have a Peanut shell sling that was great when he was a newborn, but not so great now. I can still do the hip carry with him and it’s fine for quick trips in and out of the store, but it pulls a lot on the neck and one shoulder.”
Slings also earn mixed reviews for nursing. Jessica E. explains: “The ring sling was good because it had the extra fabric to throw over her (for discreet feeding, and stopping her from getting distracted!) but bad because I had to take it off and put it on the other way around to feed from the other side.”
Moms praise wraps (long pieces of stretchy or woven fabric) for versatility, comfort and ease-of-use while nursing. As Gemma D. shared: “I preferred a wraparound carrier like a Moby or Sleepy wrap for feeding, as this can be used hands-free and is very discreet…this type of wrap is also one of the most versatile I have come across”
One negative is that the length of wraps makes tying them in public difficult. Additionally, stretchy wraps may not work well for heavier babies. Jennifer L. explained: “For younger/smaller babies we absolutely loved the Moby wrap. It was super, super comfortable and my son loved being in it. Once he got to be over 20 pounds it was difficult carrying him on my front because the material is on the stretchy side.”
Mei tais are traditional Chinese cloth carriers with straps that tie. Moms like Kara P. recommend them for their comfort and versatility: “We have used a mei tai from the time our baby was a few weeks old...she is 2 and a half now and we still use it. They are pretty easy to learn to use, fold up nicely for in the car on in a diaper bag, and are really versatile.”
Others, however, cautioned that strap width, length, angle, and padding all influence comfort level. Brenda D. shares: “All I have to say is wide straps! I have one with about three-inch wide fabric straps, no padding, and it hurts my back to use it since my buggaboo is so darn heavy.”
Ergos and Other Soft Structured Carriers
Soft structured carriers are especially popular for carrying heavier babies, though inserts also enable newborn carrying. As Allison C. shared: “I thought the Moby was best for napping and breastfeeding until 6 months old, but after that the Ergo was the best in every situation—for plane rides, shopping or long walks.” Similarly, Kimberly P. started her son in an Ergo carrier around 8 months: “We love love love it. At first I wore him in front facing me, but then he switched to riding in the backpack configuration and we still do it occasionally and he’s 18 months and 30 pounds!"
However, Tricia L. cautioned that such carriers aren’t for everyone: “I don't like structured carriers. I have a small frame, and I can’t seem to get them to fit me snugly, so the baby pulls me down, and I end up with a sore back.”
Nightly struggles with a bed-resistant toddler can be extremely frustrating for a parent, especially when you’d love nothing more than to doze off into dreamland yourself! Thankfully Circle of Moms members have shared great suggestions for mastering smooth, hassle-free bedtime routine for toddlers.
1. Establish a Simple, Consistent Routine
Numerous Circle of Moms members emphasized that setting a consistent bedtime routine is absolutely essential. Lisa M. explains: “The thing that seems to work best with our son is routine...Do the same three things before bed every single night... brush their teeth, read a book, say a prayer (or sing a song)...You can incorporate other things as they get older like sitting on the potty after brushing their teeth or a bath before it all...but as long as there are a few constant signals it kinda prepares them.”
2. Avoid Overtiredness
Being extra tired actually makes it difficult for toddlers to fall asleep. As a result, setting an earlier bedtime may speed up the getting-to-sleep process. Mother-of-two Tara O. found transitioning to an earlier bedtime was difficult at first, but ultimately eliminated her bedtime troubles: “It took about a week (and some tears on his and our part) but after that he had no problem going to sleep on his own…They are now 2 and 4 years old and go to bed at 6:30 and 7:30 respectively and sleep all the way through and still take naps during the day. They even ask to go to bed sometimes.”
3. Offer Choices
Although you should avoid negotiations at bedtime, letting your toddler make some decisions can be helpful, as Circle of Moms member Gemma found from her toddler’s experiences: “Give her options during her bedtime routine: which PJ's does she want to wear, which story does she want to read (pick 2 for her to choose from). This gives her the illusion of control and she is less likely to fight on other things.” Stacey D. agrees: “I use a sound machine and let her pick the one she wants to hear. I let her choose the book she wants me to read. I let her choose the night clothes she wants to wear. Fan on or off? I give her options and she seems to really dig that."
4. Address Fears
Dark rooms, scary dreams, monsters under the bed…nighttime fears are very common in toddlers. Many moms suggest using a nightlight, while moms like Miranda L. advise additional light sources: “A small kid-friendly flashlight (obviously a fairly dim one) might be worth trying. My son is 4 now and I let him keep a little lantern by his bed (battery operated, uses a tiny low watt bulb). For him it's a security thing, and after he goes to sleep I turn off the lantern and leave the nightlight on. He loves it!! And it worked like a charm to keep him in bed.” Other moms suggested reassuring your child that you are nearby, or describing the child’s stuffed animal as their protector.
5. Send Them Back to Bed Immediately
When a toddler gets up after bedtime, immediately returning them to bed without a discussion teaches that getting up doesn’t result in extra attention or fun time. Amy B. explains: “If she keeps getting out: first trip, pick her up, tell her it is bedtime, and put her back in bed. Second time, and however many you need after that, take her by the hand and put her to bed. Say nothing. It might take a week, and 5,000 times, but it actually does work, and usually within a couple of days. Just keep your cool and don't make it a game for her. Unless there is something wrong, they are usually trying to get our attention.”
6. Solo Sleep
Numerous moms emphasized that having a toddler learn to fall asleep on their own — and stay in their own bed — is essential to a smooth nighttime routine. Some, like Christy H., suggest using a childproof door knob cover: “I got one of those doorknob protector things so the kid can’t turn the knob and I put it on the inside of his room. That way he can't get up and crawl into our bed; that was a habit I didn't want to start.”
Other moms, like Lisa M., leave the child’s bedroom door ajar but blocked with a gate: “We put up a baby gate at the door when our son sleeps as well, so if he needs to know we are still there or to wake us in the morning he can come to the door, but this also signifies to him that it is time to sleep.”
Erin L., meanwhile, found a reward system worked: “Try a reward system. We've found that our 3 year-old does really well with a sticker chart. We just have the problem that he wakes up in the middle of the night and comes in our room to crawl in our bed. We started telling him if he stayed in his bed he would get a sticker, I just cut a big star out of construction paper to put the stickers on. The first week or two was hit or miss, but now it has worked. He is so proud of himself when he gets a sticker.“
With all the above strategies, consistency is key. As Tracey F. advises: “If you are trying a new routine, don’t give up on it straight away or you will confuse your daughter or let her think she has won and that you are giving in to her. Accept that you are going to have a few rough nights and stick to it. Once your daughter knows you are not giving in she will get used to the routine.”
Looking for more bedtime tips?
Whether you're looking for tips on drop-side crib alternatives, switching to a toddler bed, potty-training at night, or bedwetting, Circle of Moms members share great advice on many common nighttime parenting challenges.
You've graduated from toddler tantrums...now you're dealing with a naughty preschooler! To help you handle this new stage of defiance, we've rounded up our members' top advice for responding to negative behavior and encouraging positive behavior.
1. Offer Choices and Alternatives
When a preschooler engages in a negative behavior, many Circle of Moms members encourage offering alternatives and choices instead of direct orders, because this encourages the child's emerging decision-making skills. Preschoolers are all about power and independence, so having options provides them with a sense of control. As Brandy S. shares: “Give her choices…she will feel completely grown up and she will have some control over something in her little world.”
2. Take Away Favorite Items
Many Circle of Moms members recommend disciplining preschoolers by taking away a favorite toy or special privilege. Tawna K. shares: “I told her she wouldn't get to play with a game she liked (which she had just gotten out, but not opened) if she didn't do what I was telling her…that worked really well, and seems to continue to be the best bet for her really stubborn streaks. She will usually even cooperate happily.” Esther M. concurs: “She usually calms down when I tell her she will not be doing something she likes. Example: Dora is coming to town and the moment she starts to misbehave I tell her she not going to see Dora, that seems to cool her off and she starts to listen.”
3. Behavior Chart
Several moms shared that a sticker-based behavior chart worked effectively as a discipline tool for their preschoolers. Clare H., mother to a 4-year-old boy, explains: “I have introduced a behavior chart. I only have to say, ‘Do you want a naughty sticker on your chart?’ and he tows the line now. I told him naughty stickers mean no TV that day and if he gets more good stickers than bad he could have a small chocolate treat at the end of the week.”
Many moms, including Emma F., use the traditional timeout to discipline preschoolers: “I found timeouts were the only solution to my four year old (now nearly 6) acting out. First time he was on the stairs and then any other misbehaving meant going to his room with the door shut. It was a slow process but it did work, just stick to it and she will soon learn that her behavior is unacceptable and there are consequences.” Common timeout tips include using a timer so the child knows how much time is left, using short periods (5 minutes or less), and resetting the timeout if the child misbehaves during it.
5. Indicate Your Confidence
As Nikki S. advises, it’s important that your preschooler knows you believe she can be good: “Often, it’s helpful to say something indicating your confidence in the child’s ability and willingness to learn: ‘When you get older I know you will (whatever it is you expect).’ ‘Next time you can (restate what is expected in a positive manner).’ This affirms your faith in the child, lets her know that you assume she has the capacity to grow and mature, and transmits your belief in her good intentions.”
6. Model and Praise Good Behavior
In addition to pointing out negative behavior, Circle of Moms members emphasize the importance of reinforcing good behavior. Katherine C. shared some of her favorite advice from Code Name Mama: “Instead of demanding the behavior from your child, do it yourself. Model it. Children learn more from seeing a behavior modeled than they do by hearing someone tell them to do it.”
In addition, many Circle of Moms advise that praising positive behavior is one of the best strategies for promoting and reinforcing good behavior in preschoolers. Sarah H. explains: “If your child is being quiet....praise them...they will get a buzz and be eager to please you more often. Same with other behavior…If they are waiting...say ‘wow, I notice how very patient you are being...thank you,’ with a smile....that reinforces good behavior and works wonders!!!”
Looking for more discipline strategies?
From A Cure for the Common Bad Attitude to Taming Toddler Tantrums to Why Yelling Doesn't Work, The RoundUp offers tips on discipling in diverse situations. You'll also find lots of discussion on discipline in Circle of Moms communities, including Positive Behavior Strategies-Solutions Without Smacking.