The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Human babies are the most dependent of all mammals. In fact, some researchers refer to the gestation period as 18 months—nine in the womb and nine outside of it. Since your baby is used to being rocked and fed continually in the womb, he probably will feel most comfortable being held and nursed on demand once he’s out.
Maximizing physical contact with your baby is known as attachment parenting. This approach entails carrying your baby for much of the day, sleeping with him close by at night, and breastfeeding. According to pediatrician William Sears, babies who are carried in a sling or front carrier thrive because they spend time in a state of quiet alertness, stimulated by the world around them from the comforting vantage point of their mothers’ bodies.
Attachment parenting may sound like New Age thinking, but it’s the oldest and most widely practiced style of child rearing. In two-thirds of the world, children sleep with their mothers or someone else. And in many cultures, babies are held in slings or arms all day—and rarely cry, says anthropologist Meredith Small, author of Our Babies, Ourselves. American babies, on the other hand, spend two-thirds of their time isolated—in infant seats, strollers, cribs or swings. What’s more, American mothers don’t respond to their babies’ cries 46 percent of the time in the first three months.
With attachment parenting, there are no bottles to prepare, no worrying about how to get a baby to stop fussing. You simply go about your day, with your baby comforted at your side or on your chest.
Some people fear that such parenting will lead to dependent children. Proponents claim the opposite: that in order to grow up to be independent, infants need to feel secure. Robin Luff, who sleeps with her two boys and nursed them on demand, says, “If spoiling my children means being available to them, then by all means I want to spoil them.”
"Mother-infant co-sleeping is part of a time-tested system that not even Mother Nature can improve. When practiced safely, it has many benefits: Research shows that cultures with the lowest SIDS rates are those with the highest bed-sharing rates."
James Mckenna, Ph.D. -Director of the Sleep Laboratory at the University of Notre Dame