Psychology of Parenting
What is Attachment Parenting

What is Attachment Parenting

In this post, we’ll look at why overwhelmed attachment parents shouldn’t be concerned and how they can make the most of their attachment parenting approach.

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What Is Attachment

Attachment in developmental psychology refers to the tie or link created between a child and the primary caregiver, who is generally the mother but can also be the father or other caregivers.

Attachments to caregivers are an inherent tendency for newborns to be as near to the caregiver as possible for safety and survival.

Attachment Theory

Attachment Theory was established by psychiatrist and psychologist John Bowlby (1969), and was later extended and classified by developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth. According to this parental attachment theory, there are four commonly known attachment styles: secure attachment, avoidant attachment, resistive attachment, and disordered attachment.

Among them, psychologists all around the globe think that secure attachment is the best type of attachment.

Babies that are firmly bonded cry less, cooperate more, and appreciate their mother’s companionship more. They also get happier and healthier as they grow older.

Ainsworth (1978) discovered that moms with securely connected children were extremely sensitive and attentive to their children’s needs. When a mother develops into a stable attachment figure, she provides a safe sanctuary for the kid to explore.

The kid would feel comfortable and confident in extending himself or herself to the world, knowing that he or she could always retreat to the mother for safety.

As a result, if you discuss attachment parenting with a psychologist or a psychiatrist, they will almost certainly agree that this is the ideal kind of connection.

They are referring to a parenting approach that can lead to secure bonding.

To implement this attachment parenting technique, the caregiver must be sensitive and attentive to the needs of the kid. That’s all!

However, if you talk to parents who have been following the “attachment parenting” trend, you could receive a different perspective. It isn’t entirely different, but it takes the true concept of attachment parenting to a new level – an extreme one.

What is Attachment Parenting and What is Not

Attachment parenting was coined by doctor William Sears in his book Attachment Parenting, or derived from the aforementioned psychology idea (1993).

Attachment from Sears Eight principles have been proposed as a loose definition of parenting. They are as follows:

  1. Get ready for pregnancy, delivery, and parenthood.
  2. Feed with love and respect.
  3. Respond with tact.
  4. Make use of caring touch.
  5. Ensure a restful night’s sleep, both physically and mentally.
  6. Consistent and loving attention
  7. Use positive discipline.
  8. Maintain a sense of equilibrium in your personal and family life.

At first appearance, these eight criteria appear to be connected with a secure connection, as evidenced by scientific investigations. As a result, such is not contentious.

The issues stem from the particular recommendations given for these concepts in Sears’ book.

These techniques are deemed impractical and excessive.

They also lack significant peer-reviewed scientific research to back up their efficacy when parents raise their children in this manner.

Sears, for example, promotes continued nursing of the infant after infancy until the baby wishes to quit.

Although studies have proven that breastfeeding is beneficial, the majority of them were behavioured on newborns who were nursed for 3 to 9 months only, not for “as long as the child wants.”

Many working moms could be unable to breastfeed as extensively after they return to work unless their employers are supportive and give adequate space and time.

Unfortunately, the majority of employers, particularly those in blue-collar occupations, are not. It just isn’t practicable, and it hasn’t been scientifically proved to be useful.

Sears also encourages co-sleeping or sleeping in the same bed.

Close physical touch provides several benefits to the infant, which is why co-sleeping is recommended.

To avoid SIDS, however, an updated guideline released by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2011 suggests that newborns sleep in the same room as their parents, but not in the same bed (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

The most damaging claim in Sear’s version of attachment parenting is that if a child is not met with responsiveness from their parents, they will develop Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), a psychiatric condition defined as markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate social relatedness in young children.

In actuality, RAD is caused by extreme physical and mental deprivation, which is common among institutionalised children, such as orphans in Romanian orphanages 6.

For years, these childrens had no physical or emotional touch with anyone.

Their RADs were not the consequence of working moms who were unable to nurse on cue until their children were 5 8 years old.

Extending the findings of RAD research to demonstrate the usefulness of this extreme type of attachment parenting styles substantially weakens its credibility.

Is Attachment Parenting Really Controversial

It’s unfortunate that such a general name was coined and confused with the genuine attachment theory, which has made significant contributions to our knowledge of child development.

Let us try to clear up some misunderstandings.

Attachment theory is not contentious in and of itself.

Attachment theory and the parenting style defined by it have withstood the test of time.

Many psychologists and psychiatrists have behavioured numerous studies and tests on humans all around the world, with similar results.

Unfortunately, even reputable sources may get this incorrectly.

Most individuals are perplexed by the following points:

  • Attachment theory is not debatable. Attachment parenting is a parenting style prescribed in the name of Attachment theory.
  • Although Bowlby’s original notion was influenced by animal attachment, Ainsworth’s in-depth research of human newborns in Uganda resulted in the attachment theory we know today. Many human-based research across the world have validated this concept.
  • Attachment theory was developed in the 1960s and is not a new parenting theory invented by Sears.

It’s hardly surprise that many people are confused by the two identical names when false information spreads like wildfire, even on reputable sources.

Is Attachment Parenting Bad

According to attachment theory, stable attachment occurs when a main caregiver is consistently and properly attentive and sensitive to their childrens needs.

However, no studies have ever defined or demonstrated the ideal level of responsiveness and sensitivity.

It’s critical to recognise extremes for what they are: extremes.

To live a healthy life and make the most of the attachment experience, employ moderation, common sense, and awareness of your personal circumstances.

So, even if you are not baby wearing or having skin-to-skin contact around the clock, or if you do not co-sleep with them in the same bed, the secure attachment will grow as long as you are attentive and sensitive to their needs on a continuous basis.

You’re still a decent parent. Your child can still have a happy and healthy life. You will still have a tight, beautiful relationship with your child. The bond will endure a lifetime.

That is all that is important.


  1. 1.Van Rosmalen L, Van der Veer R, Van der Horst F. AINSWORTH’S STRANGE SITUATION PROCEDURE: THE ORIGIN OF AN INSTRUMENT. J Hist Behav Sci. May 2015:261-284. doi:10.1002/jhbs.21729
  2. 2.Attachment Parenting I. API’s Eight Principles of Parenting. API Attachment Parenting International.
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  7. 7.Hornor G. Reactive Attachment Disorder. Journal of Pediatric Health Care. July 2008:234-239. doi:10.1016/j.pedhc.2007.07.003
  8. 8.Smith PK. Understanding Attachment and Attachment Disorders: Theory, Practice and Evidence, * Vivien Prior and Danya Glaser, * London, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2006, pp. 288, ISBN 1-84310-245-5,  19.99. British Journal of Social Work. March 2006:363-364. doi:10.1093/bjsw/bcm007
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