While breastfeeding her baby, who should jump into the picture with the famous Dr. Sears… Yes, that would be me! My friend Angie was there with her tiny little newborn, who is just under 3 weeks old. Angie was chatting to Dr. Sears after his seminar and asked if she could have a picture, so of course, I barged in… only to realize halfway through posing that I was actually feeding Goldie in the Ergo baby carrier. Oops! Oh well, if ever there was a famous person to be in a picture with while breastfeeding your baby , then it would have to be with Dr. William Sears, breastfeeding advocate and attachment parenting guru. Dr. Bill and his wife, R.N. Martha Sears, gave a talk today on the Gold Coast, Australia. Just a rough estimate, I’m thinking there were about 500 people there, lots with babes in arms 🙂
‘Attachment parenting‘ is a phrase coined by Dr. Sears. Just mentioning the term, ‘attachment’, in our western society, can instantly conjure up visions of children who are helpless, insecure, can’t put themselves to sleep, etc. But, in reality, attachment parenting produces kids who are much to the contrary. The cool theory about attachment parenting goes with the idea of ‘short term effort, long term benefit’. In other words, respond to a baby or toddler’s needs, such as physical closeness, baby wearing, safety, nurturing touch, emotional availability, etc. when they’re young. Yes, it might seem like a little extra effort at the time. But then, these little ones who were nurtured so tenderly, will grow up to be very confident, compassionate. secure, intelligent and well rounded human beings.
It makes perfect sense to me, and I’ve been able to witness this ‘hard work pays off‘ with Margo, who turns three in a month. Although, I wouldn’t have considered anything I’ve done with Margo as ‘hard work‘. I was really just responding to her needs at the time she needed me. If she needed to be carried, I carried her. If I needed to get something done, she came with me in a baby carrier. If she wanted boobies, I gave her boobies (within reason). If she woke at night, I attended to her straight away. If she had to poop or pee, I took her (we did EC with her). If she cried, I did my best to find the source of the crying. I even went back to work part time and she was in daycare, but I was confident in the care she was receiving and promised that if I saw any detrimental effects of her being in care, I would pull her out immediately.
Now, every 3 year old can be a bit cheeky sometimes, and ok, even lose their temper. Margo certainly isn’t perfect. But, when I see her interact with her peers, adults and even her baby sister, I can see that she is a compassionate, sociable, empathizing kid. She’s been given that trusting foundation right from the start. So, when Dr. Bill talked about how attachment kids are really well adjusted, pleasant kids when they get a bit older, for me, I was able to think, ‘Yes, it’s true!’. There were other attachment parenting mothers in the audience whose children were much older, who were saying the same.
Nothing Dr. Sears said was very profound… Actually, none of it was really news to me. But, Dr. Bill and his wife had such great stories and years and years of experience, so to me, it was worth it to sit and listen to what they had to say. There are far more radical attachment parenting theorists out there, but you have to give mad props to the man who re-introduced attachment parenting to the western world. (Remember, attachment parenting is nothing new… it’s the way humans have been parenting since the beginning of time). Here were a few highlights from his talk:
- When asked by older people (I’m thinking my grandmother here): ‘When will you ever stop nursing him/her?‘. Reply with, ‘My doctor TOLD me to keep going‘. This is so true, old people always listen to the doctor.
- When asked by your contemporaries, ‘When will you ever stop nursing him/her?’. Reply with, ‘Didn’t you know Sally, breastfed babies are smarter? Or, you can go onto quote the World Health Organization that says 2 years on the boob, or even the American Pediatricians Association, say bare minimum, one year.
- Quote: ‘If I were my child, how would I want my mother to act.‘
- A baby’s brain triples in size during the first two years and it is made up of 50-60% fat! Breast milk also has 50-60% fat. Dr. Nature does not make these mistakes.
- The term ‘nurse’ in Australia also means to have a cuddle with the baby. Dr. Bill talked about a story from 30 years ago when they were visiting with his 9 month old son and an older lady offered to ‘nurse’ the baby if it started to cry. The same misunderstanding happened to me when Margo was a little baby! Very funny!!!
- Children don’t need to go to daycare to be ‘socialized’.
- Remember that this person that you are raising will one day be someone’s husband/wife, mother or father.
- Children and babies make a ‘video record’ of things they see in order to make sense of the world around them. What sort of video reply do you want your child to have going on in their head?
- And… the Baby B’s: Birth Bonding, Breastfeeding, Baby Wearing, Bed Sharing, Believe Baby’s Cries, Beware of Baby Trainers, Balance.
Dr. Sears has lots of books that he’s written and him and his three sons have a medical practice in California! Imagine being able to go to Dr. Sears as your G.P.! One lady who commented on a blog post of mine actually goes to him! Jealous! What I love so much about his advice is that his ideas are very flexible. You do what you can within your capacity. For example, even though he’s a breastfeeding advocate, he’s not saying that if you don’t breastfeed, your child will have detrimental effects. His advice is gentle and practical… as it should be… after all, him and his wife raised EIGHT children! He also has a website for more information.