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Friday, August 21, 2015

Book Review: Beyond The Sling

I think we have all come across numerous parenting buzz words over the years, but there is one in particular I want to discuss.

According to Wikipedia, “Attachment parenting (AP), a phrase coined by pediatrician William Sears, is a parenting philosophy based on the principles of attachment theory in developmental psychology. According to attachment theory, the child forms a strong emotional bond with caregivers during childhood with lifelong consequences.”

When first researching the topic a while back, I ran across many of what I considered to be extreme versions of this parenting style and said they definitely weren’t designed for me! But, as I started to think of myself more as a mom and how I see myself parenting I realized that while some of those methods were a little over the top, I was really drawn to some aspects of them too. Actually, an old post that I wrote about 3 years ago about the idea of the “Fourth Trimester” is what sparked my interest again.

That was when I decided to pick up a copy of Beyond The Sling by Mayim Bialik Ph. D. and give it a try. I had heard various reviews about her book, both about how great and wonderful it was as well as how it was horrible and extreme all at the same time; an interesting dichotomy. So, before buying the book I read the intro written by Jay Gordon, MD, FAAP. Here is the excerpt which sold me:

"Attach yourself to this baby and embrace his or her nascent relationship with you as the family grows. Some bestselling books actually ask you to make your relationship with your baby smaller month by month: "Try to get your infant to eat a little less, sleep a little longer, be picked up a little less." They say, "Don't feed her because she's hungry, feed her because it's exactly two o'clock. Don't pick him up when he's crying; he has to learn that you're going to teach him to soothe himself back to sleep." And what does that teach your baby... that his mom and dad, the two people in the whole world you can count on day and night, 24/7, to be there and love you, really aren't there when you're scared a t 3a.m. or hungry a little earlier than the books say you should be? 

How have we let "crying it out" and schedule feeding become the cultural norm? How have we convinced parents that loving their children consistently and persistently when they need us will spoil them? Now, I do believe that you can spoil a three or four year old child if he whines and yells and gets a cookie. But you can't spoil a baby! When babies cry, they're really just talking to us, expressing the most basic human and physiological needs for nourishment, warmth, cuddles, trust."

I am a planner, a scheduler and an organizer; but I am also an adult who has evolved to be this way. Can I reasonably expect that my baby will be born knowing the difference between night and day? What time meals are at and when it’s time to go to bed? Absolutely not! I realize that this kid is going to completely throw a wrench into every system I have come to know and live by over the last few years, and that is 100% ok! I am ready for it! DH should probably be prepared for a couple of OCD driven mommy meltdowns over the first few months, but we will get there… together, for her.

Which chapters appealed to me most?
  • Baby needs milk: Why we breastfeed (*this was never in question for me)
  • Baby needs to be held: How will you ever get anything done ever again? (*already have my awesome baby carrier thanks to DH)
  • Baby needs nighttime parenting: Gentle techniques and co-sleeping (*not totally on board with the co-sleeping aspect, at least not in the same bed)
  • Baby doesn’t need all that stuff: Figuring out the essentials (*still working on this one)
  • Baby doesn’t need unnecessary medical intervention: When (and when not) to call the doctor (*I have applied these principles to myself for close to 2 years now and have never been healthier)

Will I subscribe to all of the practices written in this book wholeheartedly and make this my parenting bible? No, but many things she wrote about do make sense according to what I see for my own family. And, as she says herself, there is no parenting book available that knows what is best for your family better than you do so take what you want and leave the rest behind. Do I expect everyone around me to understand and support my decisions? Not at all, in fact I know many who won’t! But thankfully I have a few friends who think alike and have parented this way already so I will have them to lean on when I need them along with DH.

If you’re thinking about attachment parenting, are a new parent or currently expecting then I highly recommend this book! And, it was such a quick, easy and enjoyable read as well so why not!