Dr. Sears Attachment Parenting


William and Martha Sears pioneered the philosophy of attachment parenting, and have been practicing and teaching it for more than 30 years. Dr. William Sears is an Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Irvine, California’s UCI School of Medicine. Martha is a registered nurse and lactation consultant. Bill and Martha also have three sons who all practice pediatrics and family medicine. They have five other children.

Attachment parenting is about creating a warm, loving bond with babies and children through physical and emotional closeness. It’s about responding to babies’ cues and fulfilling their needs. Parents achieve this goal through three main activities: breastfeeding, cosleeping and babywearing.

Breastfeeding is a very important part of attachment parenting. Breast milk is specially formulated to meet baby’s nutritional needs, and the closeness of nursing also meets baby’s emotional needs. It builds a bond between mother and baby. The mother listens and responds to her baby’s signals, and feeds him as much as he needs to be fed.

Cosleeping, or sharing a family bed, is another key aspect of the attachment parenting philosophy. Some mainstream doctors believe sleeping in the bed with a baby is dangerous, and point to SIDS cases as the reason why. Dr. Sears believes that a large number of SIDS cases are actually due to parents who are intoxicated and roll over on their infants – these cases may even be unreported and uninvestigated instances of infanticide. Dr. Sears says the benefits of cosleeping are many: when baby is next to mother in bed, his breathing syncs to hers, which can actually help prevent SIDS, since it often occurs when babies stop breathing during sleep. Mother and baby can also nurse easily and often when they’re next to each other in bed. In addition, the proximity also allows for the comfort of touch.

Dr. Sears also advocates babywearing. Wearing a baby or child in a sling lets him be close to mom or dad’s body, and be comforted by their presence, while still letting mom or dad go about their daily business and get things done. Rather than lying in a crib by himself, baby gets to experience the world from mom or dad’s point of view, and is stimulated by it. Skin-to-skin contact is also easier when babywearing, especially for fathers, who don’t get to experience this contact like mothers do when breastfeeding. Feeling a parent’s skin on their own skin helps calm babies and lets them synchronize their breathing to mom or dad’s. This means babywearing is also a great way to get babies to sleep.

There are many other aspects of attachment parenting, but the above are three key practices of Dr. Sears’ philosophy. For more information, visit the Sears website.


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