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Attachment parenting in the 4th-trimester: An easy guide for new parents

From the moment I knew I was pregnant, I thought about the kind of parent I wanted to be. I read countless books and articles about the importance of bonding with my baby as early as possible, and how seemingly simple things like eye contact could have lasting effects on my baby's development.

That's because, according to UK-based registered clinician and parent-infant psychotherapist Viven Sabel, "You are creating a solid foundation for neural growth and development. If your baby is happy and feels the connection between you, this will likely improve how you feel."

It has even been discovered by researchers from the University of Amsterdam (UvA) that infants will form secure attachments with parents who can read their wants and needs—otherwise known as mentalization—frequently and accurately.

After my daughter was born, I focused my attention on putting my lofty goals into practice. I was fortunate that my flexible employment allowed us to be together nearly constantly, and I spent hours wearing her as we went about our day or talking and singing to her in her stroller as we motored around our city neighborhood.

Even so, I worried if I was doing enough. In my effort to discover new ways to strengthen our connection, I discovered Attachment Parenting and was excited to see that so many of their tenants were things my daughter and I had naturally been doing.

What is Attachment Parenting?

Like many parenting philosophies, Attachment Parenting means something slightly different to every parent who practices it. In general, though, Attachment Parenting focuses on the bond and connection between child and parent, often emphasizing and developing it further through closeness and touch, with the goal of raising secure, independent and empathetic children.

As Moniek Zeegers, PhD, a researcher at UvA's department of Child Development and Education says in a new study published in Psychological Bulletin, "Children who feel securely attached are, among other things, better at regulating their emotions, have higher self-esteem and exhibit less emotional and behavioral problems," Zeegers says.

How can I start?

Attachment Parenting International (API), a non-profit organization that promotes practices that create strong emotional bonds between parents and their little ones, identifies eight principles of Attachment Parenting.

Easy ways to try Attachment Parenting

Keeping little ones close and maintaining plenty of eye contact is a great way to cement your bond from the start.

Paired with our tips, here are eight ways to bring Attachment Parenting to life with your little one.

1. Prepare for pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. Essentially, parents should try to learn as much as they can prior to baby's arrival about pregnancy care, childbirth without interventions (if possible), and parenting styles.

Try this: Before your due date, check with your OB or midwife to see if your hospital or birthing facility offers a birth prep or child care class. You'd be amazed at what you can learn in just a few short sessions, and it can be incredibly helpful to connect with other moms going through the same things you are.

2. Feed with love and respect. Breastfeeding or attentive bottle feeding is strongly emphasized as the healthiest infant-feeding choice.

Try this: For the first few weeks of your baby's life, don't worry about adopting any kind of feeding schedule. Feed your baby on demand as much as possible and pay close attention to their hunger cues until a natural rhythm develops.

3. Respond with sensitivity. Viewed as the cornerstone of Attachment Parenting, this principle refers to responding to baby's needs and cries in a timely manner.

Try this: A parent-facing stroller can be a great way to make sure you're there to immediately soothe tears while you're on the go. The Ergobaby 180 Reversible stroller allows parents to go from forward-facing to parent-facing with just a simple push of a button, instantly sliding the handlebar from one side to the other without adjusting anything on the child's seat. And because it fully reclines, it can be used from birth to build an unbreakable connection.


Ergobaby 180 Reversible Stroller

4. Provide nurturing touch. Think massage, hugs, hand-holding, and cuddles (so many cuddles!).

Try this: The benefits of skin-to-skin contact extend well beyond the "golden hour" after birth. Spend a few minutes after bath time, while your baby naps, or simply relaxing at the end of the day with your little one in your arms to maximize the benefits.

5. Ensure safe sleep. Sleep with baby nearby to maximize responsiveness.

Try this: Since 2016, the American Academy of Pediatrics has touted the benefits of sharing a room with baby for at least the first six months to a year of their life—benefits that include a decreased risk of SIDS. Plus, nursing mamas will undoubtedly love having their little ones at arm's reach for nighttime feedings.

6. Use consistent and loving care. To ensure the baby feels secure, Attachment Parenting encourages a single, primary caregiver—typically a parent.

Try this: If both parents work, it can be beneficial to opt for a single, consistent caregiver (be it a nanny or Grandma!) or a daycare with a low child-to-caregiver ratio to step in during working hours.

7. Practice positive discipline. Teach by example and employ positive parenting tactics, such as distraction and problem solving, to guide children.

Try this: To prevent meltdowns, prepare for situations that typically cause tensions to rise. For example, avoid running errands too close to nap time and pack healthy meal options in advance in case you aren't able to find suitable choices on the go.

8. Strive for personal and family balance. This family-centered approach believes all members of the family have equal value. Parents should balance their parenting roles with their personal life to model the healthiest lifestyle for their children.

Try this: Babywearing may be one of the easiest tenants of Attachment Parenting to incorporate into your daily life—and you'll probably be amazed at how much easier it makes it to get things done around the house! Pop your child into a carrier that keeps them close (we love the Ergobaby Omni 360 for safe and easy-to-convert carries) and use that hands-free time to pick up around the house, throw in a load of laundry, or simply get out for a refreshing walk.

In many cases, you may already find yourself practicing one or several of these key tenants. While not every principle may work for every family, there are plenty of easy ways to boost your attachment with your baby from the start.

If you're not able to incorporate every principle of Attachment Parenting, don't stress. The point is to create a system of trust and security that works for your family. And that's something we can all get pretty attached to.


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An expectant mama's to-do list can feel endless… but here's the good news: A lot of those tasks are actually really exciting. Planning your baby registry is especially thrilling: You get a say in what gifts friends and family members will buy for your new addition!

But it can also feel a bit overwhelming to make sense of all the gear on the market. That's why we suggest mentally dividing your registry into two categories: items you need to prepare for your baby's arrival and items that sure would be nice to have.

Here at Motherly, our editors have dozens of kids and years of parenting experience among us, so we know our way around the essentials. We also know how mama-friendly the registry-building experience is with Target, especially thanks to their recently upgraded registry and introduction of Year of Benefits. Just by creating your baby registry with Target, you'll snag a kit with $120 in discounts and samples. The savings keep coming: You'll also get two 15% off coupons to buy unpurchased items from your registry for up to a year after your baby's expected arrival. Change your mind about anything? The Year of Benefits allows for returns or exchanges for a full year. And as of August 2020, those who also sign up for Target Circle when creating a baby registry will also get the retailer's Year of Exclusive Deals, which includes ongoing discounts on baby essentials for a full year.

Here are 10 items we agree deserve a spot in the "need" category on your registry, mama.


A crib to grow with your baby

Delta Children Farmhouse 6-in-1 Convertible Crib

First-time mamas are likely creating nursery spaces for the first time, and that can get expensive. Adding a quality crib to Target registry gives friends and family members the option to join forces to make a large purchase through group gifting.

$269.99

A safe + convenient car seat

Safety 1st OnBoard 35 LT Infant Car Seat

The list of non-negotiable baby essentials is pretty short, but it definitely includes a car seat. In fact, most hospitals will not allow you to leave after delivery until a car seat check is performed. We recommend an infant seat, which can easily snap into a base in your car.

$99.99

A traveling nursery station

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

It's hard to beat a good playard when it comes to longevity. This item can be baby's sleeping place when they're sharing a room with you for the first months. Down the line, it can function as a roving diaper change station. And when you travel, it makes a great safe space for your little one to sleep and play.

$99.99

A swing for some backup help

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

A dependable swing can be a real lifesaver for new parents when they need their hands free (or just a minute to themselves). Because many babies are opinionated about these things, we appreciate that the mamaRoo has multiple modes of motion and soothing sounds.

$219.99

An easy-to-clean high chair

Ingenuity SmartClean Trio Elite 3-in-1 High Chair - Slate

Our best registry advice? Think ahead. It really won't be long before your child is ready for those first bites of solid food, at which point you'll need a high chair. We like one that transitions to a booster seat atop an existing dining room chair.

$99.99

A diaper bag to share

Eddie Bauer Backpack - Gray/Tan

When you're a mom, you're usually toting diapers, wipes, clothing changes, bottles, snacks, toys and more. You need a great bag to stash it all, and if you're anything like us, you'll choose a backpack style for comfort and functionality. Bonus: This gender neutral option can easily be passed off to your partner.

$64.99

A hygienic spot for all those diaper changes

Munchkin Secure Grip Waterproof Diaper Changing Pad 16X31"

We can confidently predict there will be a lot of diaper changes in your future. Do yourself a favor by registering for two comfortable, wipeable changing pads: one to keep in the nursery and another to stash elsewhere in your house.

$29.99

A way to keep an eye on your baby at night

Infant Optics Video Baby Monitor DXR-8

Feeling peace of mind while your baby sleeps in another room truly is priceless.That's why we advocate for a quality video monitor that will allow you to keep tabs on your snoozing sweetheart.

$165.99

A comfortable carrier to free up your hands

Petunia Pickle Bottom for Moby Wrap Baby Carrier, Strolling in Salvador

A wrap carrier may be about as low-tech as baby items come, but trust us, this product stands the test of time. Great for use around the house or while running errands, this is one item you'll appreciate so much.

$39.99

A full set of bottles + cleaning supplies

Dr. Brown's Options+ Complete Baby Bottle Gift Set

Whether you plan to work in an office or stay at home, breastfeed or formula feed, bottles are a valuable tool. To make your life as simple as possible, it's nice to have an easy-to-clean set that is designed to work through the first year.

$39.99

Target's baby registry is easy to create from the comfort of your own home. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with the Year of Benefits featuring exclusive deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.


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