Attachment Parenting Sleep


Sleep is an important part of the attachment parenting philosophy. Proponents of this method believe that children must be “parented” to sleep, rather than trained to learn to sleep on their own. Cosleeping, also known as sleep sharing, or sharing the family bed, is another key element of attachment parenting’s stance on sleep.

Traditional parents may decide to sleep train their babies once they reach an age where they’re believed to be able to sleep through the night. Sleep training involves putting a child in the crib or bed and ignoring protests or cries. The parent may put the child down to sleep and not check on him until the morning; there are also sleep-training methods that entail checking on the child every few minutes, but not picking up or soothing him except verbally. The aim is for the baby to learn how to self-soothe and go to sleep on his own.

In attachment parenting, sleep-training methods are viewed as cruel, and possibly detrimental to the child’s healthy emotional development. Instead, parents soothe the child to sleep. There are several ways to do this. Mothers may nurse their babies to sleep. Either parent can rock, walk with, or wear the child in a sling to calm baby and get him to sleep.

Cosleeping helps solve the problem of soothing a child to sleep. When mother, father and baby all sleep in the same bed, it’s easier for the parents to calm the child with physical closeness. Parents may choose to go to sleep at the same time as the baby, or lie down with the baby until he falls asleep, at which point they get up and continue their evening. If the child is waking in the night, it’s easy for mother to nurse him back to sleep, because he’s right next to her. If she chooses not to use nursing as a way to get her child off to dreamland, rocking and cuddling are also easier when the baby is in bed with his parents. Dr. William Sears, who pioneered attachment parenting, advocates the “warm fuzzy” as a soothing way to get baby to sleep. It involves skin-to-skin contact: dad drapes baby over his bare chest and baby is soothed by his warmth and heartbeat.


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