I started to write generic answers about Attachment Parenting and Cherri, the co-proprietor of this site, caught me at it.
I have been a pediatrician for over twenty years and the vast majority of my patients co-sleep and take their babies with them rather than leaving them. They respond as fast as they can to crying and they also listen for more subtle cues.
I support this type of parenting for reasons almost too numerous to list, but I’ll try.
Intrauterine babies have the last “free lunch” and once they are out, they try to continue that incredibly tight relationship and continued influx of calories and food. They want to nurse at all hours of the day and night and want to be hugged and cuddled and carried and are 100% “non-spoilable.”
You can spoil a three year old if he cries for a cookie and you give him a cookie; he will learn to cry for a cookie. When your baby cries, it is her highest level of communication and she’s speaking about the most basic human and physiologic needs: hunger, warmth, trust, cuddles. If you tell her to wait because it’s only 3:45 instead of four o’clock, the feelings you engender are that she’s not as important as she thought and . . . you’re not as smart as you looked!
Turn this upside down: “What do you want and when would you like it and omigosh! you still want more?” This will set your family up for that time toward the end of the first year of life when you can say, “Waitaminit . . . please.” You can look your baby right in the eye and tell her that she is still the most important powerful person in that he world but that you fibbed a little when you told her she was the Queen of England. She can handle a “demotion” to family member instead of autocrat. The foundation for that “behavior modification” comes from extra love and cuddling during the first year, not from letting her cry it out when she needs more food or hugs. Conventional American childrearing gets this whole concept backwards.
Safety is the most important aspect of attachment parenting for many people. A baby in the Family Bed, worn in a sling or similar device and not left in the care of non-parents during the early months is the safest possible baby. I realize that many people have babysitters or other help may not want to “wear the baby” but I certainly strongly support those who do.
My best example: After nine months of planning and hard preparatory work, you open a flower shop. Of course, you have to get up at 3 AM to go to the market downtown to get the best flowers and the best buys and then you have to get set up and open your store by 9AM. The profit margin is not high so you have to work the store yourself for 10-12 hours and then do the books, make the deposit, clean up and more. With any luck, you may be in bed at some reasonable hour and get a few hours of decent sleep–although you may wake up in the middle of the night with worries about this new endeavor. Your life will be fuller and rewarding but it’s not easy to appreciate this when you are sleepless and concerned about making this work. (Your friends and family think you’re nuts for doing this because they have other conventional ways of running their lives.)
By the end of the year, you have the prettiest, happiest little flower shop and countless people remark on it being the finest they have ever seen. They make comments like, if I knew that I could start a business which turned out so well, I would open one myself!
Your friends, your occasionally unsupportive friends, are now laudatory and filled with compliments for your flower shop and the way you have done it.
All of this . . . for a flower shop. If you put the same time, effort and love into raising your baby, people get upset that you seem to be tired too much and hardly ever join them for lunch. Oh, well.