Attachment Parenting Versus Controlled Crying

There is still a debate going on today regarding the relative merits of the two approaches, “Controlled Crying” or “Attachment Parenting” when it comes to nurturing a newborn or a young infant. It seems to me that the only benefit of allowing a very young child to cry for any length of time when stressed and wanting comfort, would be for the parent or parents’ sake. Small babies have immature sleep patterns, which puts a great deal of stress on parents, through lack of sleep. However, most experts today would probably discourage the use of the controlled crying approach (or “controlled comfort” as some like to call it) for newborn or for very young babies.

During the eighties, when I had my two children, I followed what was then called “The Continuum Concept,” based on Jean Liedloff’s best-selling book. This challenged “normal” western nurturing concepts of separation between infant and principal carers, and was inspired by the author’s experiences while living in the South American jungles with the Yequana Indians.

It promoted a child-centred, love-based policy of child-rearing. This involved, for me, not using a pram, but placing the baby in a sling and allowing total access to the mother for feeding and for comfort. I took my baby into bed with me for breast-feeding when I was tired, and often slept in the one bed with baby and husband. Both children were raised in this way, and they are warm, loving adults, who benefited from this close bonding. As a result, they are now able to pass on this warmth and love to their own children.

Of course there are disadvantages of this approach. It is tiring for a breastfeeding mother in a nuclear family situation to carry a child n a papoose without other carers to share in the task, as in extended families. However, the advantages of rearing a happy confident child far outweigh the disadvantages.

The main worry with the other approach is that a child may end up falling asleep through exhaustion and after having “given up”, and the main lesson learnt will be that its needs for emotional warmth and for contact are not to be met.

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