Before I was a parent I heard about Attachment Parenting and thought it was crazy. Then I got pregnant and started learning more about it and thought it still sounded a but too extreme for me. And then I held my precious baby in my arms and 25 months later we are DEFINITELY an Attachment Parenting family.
There are plenty of people out there who say you can’t be AP and Montessori but we’ve managed to make it work quite well. I don’t think you can be a purist of either method and still do both but they an be complementary methods and produce an amazing child. Below are the 7 Bs of Attachment Parenting as written by Dr Sears and how how we have made them fit into our Montessori home:
- Birth Bonding- Montessori agreed that babies should be with their mothers as often as possible right after birth. We accomplished this by maintaining skin-to-skin contact, limiting visitors, and spending lots of time resting when baby rested and snuggled up in bed.
- Breastfeeding– Traditional Montessorians wean around 8-10 months. However, any reputable doctor will tell you a child should be breastfed until at least a year and ideally until two. AP parents are more likely to practice baby led weaning which is complementary to the Montessori idea of skipping mushed up foods and allowing your child to self-feed and to prepare their own solids. However, this is an area in which AP and true Montessorians clash because Montessori was not an advocate of extended nursing. We choose to nurse on demand in the beginning and will nurse until J is ready to completely wean.
- Babywearing– Babywearing involves carrying your child in a sling or soft structured carrier. It’s amazing, allows Mama to have baby close by and still have her hands free and is amazing for bonding. Some Montessorians say children should be left on the floor to be able to freely explore. However, Montessori herself seems to have been an advocate of babywearing as she talks about how children in other cultures who are worn are less fussy and cry less often than other babies. We still wear our son and he loves it. He rarely cried as an infant and I think it’s because I wore him almost constantly. He walks just fine and learned to crawl too. Babywearing has been awesome for me since I bring my son to work with me, it’s great to be able to nurse him to sleep in the carrier and have him close by when we are busy.
- Bedding close to baby– This is probably where AP and Montessori clash the most. Traditional Montessorians will keep baby in a bassinet until somewhere between 4-8 weeks at which point baby will be moved to a floor bed. The concept behind this is that the child has the freedom to come and go from their bed as needed and can seek out their parent but have a private sleeping space all their own. AP parents are advocates of cosleeping. We’ve been cosleeping for 25 months and love it. Children are significantly less likely to die from SIDS when cosleeping, it makes night nursing much easier, and we can get all the snuggles in possible before out little guy gets too big and too cool to cuddle! When J outgrew his cosleeper we moved him to a twin bed on the floor next to our mattress on the floor. This way he has his own space and can come and go from the bed as he wants but he still is right there with us. He asks to go to bed and gets up on his own, just as Montessori wanted children to be able to do. Parenting does NOT stop at bedtime!!!!! So many parents think they get 12 hours off a day after their child goes to bed and leave their precious babies to cry themselves to sleep in another room. NOT COOL!!!!! Your child still needs you at night and needs you to parent them, help them learn to sleep and know they are safe!
- Belief in the language value of your baby’s cry– AP parents understand that God gave babies their voices for a reason and that their cries are valid ways of communicating with us. This is something Dr Montessori also believed in. A child’s cries should NEVER be ignored. If you have a particularly fussy baby or a baby who cries a lot- remember that this will pass and your child will be off to college before you know it. A nice warm bath with Mama can work wonders!
- Beware of baby trainers– This blog is a great post on why we should beware of baby trainers. Dr Montessori, I believe, would have agreed with these as well. She believed in always following the lead of the child and going at their pace. Trust your instincts above all
- Balance- This is right on with Montessori practices. Finding balance for your family, your time, your home, your work and new baby! This balance is essential for all families and your child will be much happier if you find a way to manage your time well. This might mean giving up TV time, planning meals a few weeks ahead of time, ASKING FOR HELP!!!, or being willing to admit you’re not perfect and can’t do everything Pintrest tells you to do. This also includes finding a balance in discipline with children and meeting their needs in a loving, gently, non-threatening way. Both Montessori and AP advocate for the removal of punishment and strive for a natural consequences and peaceful approach to discipline. Remember discipline is NOT punishment- it’s teaching your child how to live in a balanced world!
I hope this post has helped you to see that you can meet the needs of your child in a peaceful, gently and loving way just as Montessori and Attachment Parenting strive to do!