attachment-vs-routine-parenting

Attachment vs. routine parenting – where do you stand?

Deciding what kind of parent you want to be starts from the moment you find out you’re pregnant, everything from deciding whether to have a midwife or obstetrician through to whether it’s best to have three or four wheel pram! So it’s no wonder that how you raise your child is also a choice. There are many theories and philosophies around which parenting styles are ‘best’ so let’s unpack a couple of the most common ones here.

Attachment parenting

Attachment parenting is at one end of the parenting philosophy spectrum. It is most commonly associated with consistent baby wearing, co-sleeping and breastfeeding on demand rather than on a schedule.

This way of parenting is otherwise known as ‘baby-led parenting’ where all decisions are made with the mindset of what baby would like best and involves sacrifice from the parents, especially the primary caregiver (who is usually the mother as she is the one who breastfeeds).

It is based on the philosophy that children have a higher self-esteem and are more emotionally secure when they can learn to separate from their parents at their own pace. It is demanding on mothers physically, emotionally and mentally but these mothers are willing to sacrifice themselves for the strong belief that this way of parenting is best for their baby.

Read more in Hey baby – the essential guide to the baby years

Routine parenting

Routine parenting is at the opposite end of the spectrum to attachment parenting. It is commonly associated with putting baby into a schedule, they sleep in their own bed, sometimes in their own room and they are fed either breast or bottle. The main focus is to get baby into a routine so that their sleep times are consistent and predictable and they actually sleep for decent lengths at a time not just cat napping throughout the day.

This way of parenting is otherwise known as ‘parent-led parenting’ as the parent is calling the shots and making decisions based on what is best for themselves and the baby. The well-being of the main caregiver, mainly the mother, is especially important as she is able to get some good rest so that she’s in a strong place physically, emotionally and mentally to care for her family.

Both of the above parenting philosophies are at the more extreme end of the spectrum and there is nothing wrong with them but there is a middle ground.

Parenting your way

As with everything you read or hear about raising your child, as a new parent you get to pick and choose what you think is right for you and your family and implement that however you want. You could take some things from the attachment parenting and other things from routine parenting and form your own middle ground.

For example, you might strongly believe in baby wearing and the healthy bond it creates between you and your baby but also strongly believe that it’s important for your baby to be able to sleep independently and in their own bed.

There are no rules in the whole parenting game. There is no right or wrong. There are a lot of passionate opinions out there but the most important thing is that you do what is right for you and your family. You know your baby better than anyone, you know yourself better than anyone and your family better than anyone. You know what’s best – listen to that, trust your gut, figure out what is important to you as parents and then parent the way that best serves your family.

Remember, you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone, just own your decisions and be consistent. You’ve got this!

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About Author

Grace Nixon

Grace Nixon, BHSc (Midwifery), otherwise known as The Baby Lady, is an Auckland-based newborn specialist. Using her skills and experience gained both as a midwife and nanny over the past 10 years, she helps new parents prepare and adjust to life with their new arrival. She also runs Practical Parenting Antenatal classes that focus on both birth and life at home with a baby. See more at thebabylady.co.nz or practicalparentingantenatal.com.

1 Comment

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    Thank you for this article – I love the way you offer a balanced and neutral stance. You rightly identify that there are ‘lots of passionate opinions out there’ that often create a feeling of guilt in parents if they are not doing the ‘right’ thing. I like the conclusion you come to that parents need to pick what is right for them and their family. At the end of the day, children need to be nurtured and develop a strong connection with their parents, and that will happen (or in some cases NOT happen) regardless of whether the parent choses ‘attachment’ parenting or ‘routine’ parenting.