"Attachment parenting" is a love-oriented early education model that promotes parent-baby attachment, strong parental empathy and responsiveness, as well as bodily closeness and touch. The definition "attachment parenting" - which was coined by American pediatrician and author William Sears - owes many ideas to previous work from people like Benjamin Spock's, the renowned American pediatrician and author, and Edward John Mostyn Bowlby, the British psychologist, psychiatrist, and psychoanalyst, who pioneered the attachment philosophy.

According to Dr. Shannon Curry, a clinical psychologist and director of the Curry Psychology Group in California, “Bowlby recognized a pattern of neglect or dysfunctional caretaking that had occurred in the early developmental years of the children with more severe behavioral and emotional issues. He developed a theory that the primary caregiver served as "psychic organizer" for the child, and that this initial relationship served as the child’s framework for the world. As such, a child’s successful development depended upon a warm and caring relationship with their caregiver.”

“The physiological and mental development of babies and young children depends largely on the quality and frequency of affection, touch, attention, care, and mental stimulation received from caregivers,” says Curry. The attachment parenting method encourages emotional responsiveness and warm parent-kid relationships and bonding, which means, for example, that parents should respond to their baby's needs during sleeping hours in the same way they would respond to them during the day.

Attachment Parenting International (API) provides eight principles to parents and caregivers about attachment parenting, summarized as follows:

1. Preparation
Be emotionally and physically prepared for pregnancy and birth.

2. Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is the optimal way to satisfy a baby's nutritional and emotional needs.

3. Sensitivity and responsiveness
The foundation of trust and empathy begins in infancy.

4. Nurturing touch
Touch fulfills a baby's needs for physical contact, affection, security, stimulation, and movement.

5. Safe co-sleeping
Physically and emotionally safe co-sleeping has benefits to both infants and parents.

6. Consistent loving care
Babies and young children have a strong need for the physical presence of a consistent, loving and responsive caregiver, ideally mom or dad.

7. Positive discipline
Positive discipline helps children develop a conscience of their own internal discipline and empathy for others.

8. Striving for balance
Recognize and meet individual needs within your family, without forgetting your own physical and emotional health.

Picture: Alan and Mom (ChildUp.com)