Parents often confuse attachment parenting with attachment theory, thanks to the term “attachment” they share. However, attachment parenting and attachment theory are very different from each other. Let’s look at both and learn if working with a sleep consultant affects the attachment between infants and caregivers.

Attachment Parenting versus Attachment Theory

Let’s first define each term.

Attachment Parenting

Popularized by Drs. William and Martha Sears, is often related to breastfeeding on demand, baby-wearing, and co-sleeping. It espouses using a nurturing touch and responding with sensitivity to babies and children. However, some critics argue that strictly adhering to attachment parenting may cause overstressed parents and overdependent.

Attachment Theory

On the other hand, the psychological theory of attachment theory was first described by psychoanalyst John Bowlby and popularized by Mary Ainsworth. There are four categories of attachment between a baby and their caregivers: secure, insecure-avoidant, insecure-resistant, and insecure-disorganized. The goal is to build a secure attachment between a child and their parents. In this state, children feel safe expressing distress and are confident even when faced with unfamiliar surroundings.

Like any parenting-related issue, people have conflicting views on whether attachment parenting guarantees secure attachments or vice versa. Some say attachment parenting does not necessarily build secure attachments because parents become too obsessed with answering each and every child’s call instead of teaching their child independence. Other people say the opposite.

There is no wrong or right answer that can blanket all families. This depends on what works best for each parent and their child.  Parents can even combine different parenting philosophies as long as they can see they are forming healthy and caring relationships with happy children.

Sleep Training’s Effect on Secure Attachments

Once you bring home the new baby, expect your family dynamic to change and that your older children will go through an inevitable adjustment period.

Here are some tips that can make this transition easier on everyone:

When it comes to sleep training, some parents are concerned that teaching their child to sleep independently will damage secure attachments. However, this is not the case. Sleep training does not mean letting your baby cry-it-out all night long. Neither does it mean depriving your child of support and comfort when they need it.

Yes, there will be some crying involved in any type of sleep training. This is normal, especially during an adjustment period. Like in other situations, this will pass and you will not “scar your child for life”. Remember that you are working with a sleep consultant to improve your child’s sleeping habits, not to give them a hard time.

Teaching your child how to sleep independently is just one aspect of parenting. What is essential is that your child knows that you are loving, consistent, and reliable. It is vital to assure, encourage, and comfort your baby throughout the day, not just when they cry. This is the most important aspect of building secure attachments between babies and caregivers.

Whether you adhere to attachment parenting or not, you can build secure attachments with your child. What can help is that when the whole family is well-rested, there is more patience and support to go around. This is what good sleep training can bring-a happier and healthier home.

If your baby is struggling with sleep and you’re wanting to explore options to improve it, please use the link below to book a Free 15 minute discovery call with one of our team members. Louise and Hannah have helped over 1500 families in Singapore and beyond achieve improved sleep for their baby’s. And we’d love the opportunity to help you too!