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'Bringing Up Baby'

Imagine six families all with parenting coaches. And they're trying three very different parenting styles from different eras. There's the "Dr. Spock trust-your-instincts" approach. There's the "get the baby on a strict schedule" tack. And there's the "attachment parent." Now, put the families and their coaches on TV.

What you get is the controversial British television show, Bringing Up Baby. Video clips of the show reveal a "schedule" mom distraught as her baby cries in a stroller outside. Another mom worries about leaving her twins outside for 3 1/2 hours. An attachment mom shows how she makes a sling work and talks about how content her son is. Without a UK address, folks in the U.S. can only watch these clips and not the entire show.

Plenty of British viewers have chimed in on the show's message boards. Much of the chatter revolves around whether baby scheduler coach Claire Verity is abusing the babies.

It's hard to find many parents who don't have thoughts on how the rest of the world should parent. That seems to quadruple when we have babies. "Is he sleeping through the night?" "What do you mean you're not breast-feeding?" "You've got her on a schedule? REALLY????!" "Not rolling yet?" "You know, you can put the baby down sometime." The comments and questions go on and on and on.

Yet, we all muddle through in our sleep-deprived states (okay, many of us, anyways). And somehow, the kids grow up.

So, what do you think of the "Bringing Up Baby" clips we can see and the parenting approaches? What's your favorite annoying baby question you were asked?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  October 10, 2007; 7:20 AM ET  | Category:  Babies
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(Leslie cheated on On Balance!)

Posted by: anon for today | October 10, 2007 8:00 AM | Report abuse

The "1950s parent" clips were pretty hard to watch. You could see that the mom's instincts were screaming that what they were doing was wrong, and she was a wreck. I cannot imagine it ever being ok to park a newborn out in the backyard in her stroller for 3.5 hours, so the parents can't hear her cry (which the coach admitted was the purpose).

When DD was a newborn, we tended to gravitate towards attachment parenting principles, though we never co-slept. The only comments that ever bothered me were about sleep. I got a lot of "just wait [a month, six months, until you have another kid], then you'll use cry-it-out and you'll like it." I never have used CIO, and things have worked out OK. Plus, it seems that the CIO kids are still up at night about as often as DD is.

Posted by: newsahm | October 10, 2007 8:08 AM | Report abuse

I have an easy baby, so we've never really had to train her, at least not intentionally. I think the key is to do what you're comfortable with. I'm not comfortable letting a baby scream. Fuss, yes, but not scream. I'm also not comfortable with attachment parenting. I think even a baby needs to learn some independence. Is mom happy? Is baby thriving? Then you must be doing something right, and it's probably not the same thing as most of the other parents you're talking to. If what you're doing isn't working, try something different that you're comfortable with. And don't be militant that your way is the right way and babies raised any other way are doomed to be sissies, losers, or serial killers.

Posted by: atb | October 10, 2007 8:46 AM | Report abuse

The key is finding what works best for you and your baby. Every family is different, every baby is different. We didn't use any particular method and what we did changed with each kid because our circumstances were different each time.

I will say I disagree with leaving a baby parked outside where parents can't hear, what about neighbors? I don't think anyone wants to hear a baby scrream for hours!

Posted by: Momof5 | October 10, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

I definitely gravitate toward something in between "schedule" and "attachment", but as my daughter gets older, we move more toward scheduling. I did use CIO once she was over 6 months, and frankly it worked for her. But it isn't for everyone, and we lapse now and again and have to start over. Before that age, I was responsive every time she cried. Most of my friends are similar in their approaches, and most of the children are doing really well.

I have noticed, though, that my friends who use attachment approaches have children who, while content with mom and dad, have a really hard time with other kids in day care and playgroups. They have a hard time sharing, not getting to dictate their own schedules, etc. They are well-loved children, no doubt, and my friends are incredibly nurturing parents. But -- at least in these instances -- the child runs the house and has a hard time outside of that home environment as a result. I am not a huge believer in attachment parenting as a result -- I think it represents a misreading of the research literature on attachment and parenting styles. Probably some people do it better, though, with more discipline and rules accompanying the nurturing and warmth.

I don't have any "authoritarian" friends --high on discipline, low on warmth and nurturing -- but children often struggle most with that. Of course, every child is different and the same parenting strategy won't work for everyone!

Posted by: sciencemom | October 10, 2007 9:45 AM | Report abuse

It's funny that some of you insist that you don't like attachment parenting even as you do it. For example, not letting a baby "cry it out" is attachment parenting. Co-sleeping is not a requirement for attachment parenting.

Basically, attachment parenting is all about not ignoring your baby and his/her needs and providing lots of touching, closeness, and warmth. That's the crux of it. The philosophy is that a baby who knows that his needs won't go unmet and knows that he always has someone loving and physically affectionate around him will be a happy, content baby.

Anyway, that's our basic philosophy as well. BTW, our baby started sleeping 6-7 hours at night at about 6 weeks -- and we always went and got him if he woke up in the middle of the night.

Posted by: Ryan | October 10, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Ryan -- I expressed some concerns about attachment parenting, at least as I've seen it practiced by friends. I think the difference for me is that, while I didn't let the child cry in the early months, I eventually moved past that. I think I am a pretty nurturing parent, but I also enforce rules and am aware of when my child is crying because she truly needs my support or is crying to get something else.

My friends using attachment parenting always respond to their children's cries, and that doesn't change as they get older. So the three that I know all have children who are still waking up between 2 and 4 times to feed when they are over a year old. Perhaps it's just the type of attachment parenting I've witnessed. . .

Posted by: sciencemom | October 10, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

That's a really interesting observation about attachment parenting, sciencemom. I'm a new mom of a six-week-old and have been subscribing to the tenets of attachment parenting so far. But I do wonder: After a certain age, does attachment parenting equal spoiling a child? Does the child learn to manipulate its parents, and expect to be able to do so with other people?
Thanks for any thoughts folks have on this!

Posted by: wondering | October 10, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Ryan- I don't agree that simply not letting your baby CIO to get to sleep is the totality of attachment parenting. If you talk to anyone who's into it, they'll tell you it's a "lifestyle." See the attachment parenting booth at the Takoma Park folk festival for details. I'm all for responding to your baby's needs, but the attachment parents would laugh me out of their booth if I tried to tell them I practiced attachment parenting. I guess there's attachment parenting, and then there's ATTACHMENT PARENTING.

Posted by: atb | October 10, 2007 10:56 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the posters who noted that different things work for different parents and different children. Our son was a very easy baby, so I may have a skewed view, but I think a lot can be said for following your instincts and not trying too hard to follow a prescribed (by someone else who is not in your house and who does not know your child) method.

As for the writer's second question about the most annoying question I was asked after my son's birth, it was hands down, "are you ready for number 2?" There are so many issues I have with this question I cannot even begin to list them.

Posted by: NewPoster | October 10, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

wondering- Here's my advise. Don't try to label your parenting. Do what works for you and your baby. If you want to sleep with your baby, carry her in a sling for 12 months, and breastfeed until she's 4, do it. If you want her in her crib the night she comes home from the hospital and want her on formula from day 1, do it. If you fall somewhere in the middle, as most of us do, do it. The manipulation doesn't start until about 6 months, and all kids will try to manipulate you from then until you die.

Posted by: atb | October 10, 2007 11:05 AM | Report abuse

wondering - we practice our own brand of attachment parenting, which basically means that while we co-sleep and have extended-breastfed, my husband and I refuse to get on the "One True Way" bandwagon.

We do what works for us.

Our son does try to manipulate us, yes - two nights ago my son was all "I'm hungry. I need an apple." when what he MEANT was "Grandma is in the kitchen and I want to go see her."

Despite the fact that he was going to sleep in our queen-sized bed, and that he is often given a snack (the clue here was that he had had one, which he did not finish, 5 minutes before) he still had to stay in bed and deal with having said goodnight only 5 times instead of 6, or whatever.

That was clearly manipulation of a pretty transparent kind.

But I don't believe that "giving in" (what a loaded phrase) to his desire to sleep in the family bed for comfort while he's still so young is letting him "manipulate" us.

It's only manipulation if we disagree. For me the insight of AP is that closeness may not be manipulation, but a natural desire for connection.

We think, in our family, that it is fine to sleep in mum and dad's bed when you are young. For our family it's meant everyone gets enough sleep in a pleasant way. Our son's learned to stay in a non-barrier bed at night since he was about 16 mos old, as a bonus.

I always wonder why the "50s" model insisted that eating and sleeping were the critical areas for "manipulation." For me those are the areas I least want to argue about with my kid. (Not that we haven't had the bedtime battle, but I just don't see it as The Grand Parental Authority struggle. Now holding hands when you cross the street....)

At some point he will be too old for the family bed and if he hasn't left on his own (doubtful; his personality sort of leans that way) we'll toss him from the queen sized nest at that point. And since he'll have met our boundaries and rules on only 1231232312 things before that, I bet he'll recognize 'em when he meets 'em.

For now, when he wakes up alone, he's sometimes scared. When he wakes up and sees us, he rolls over and goes back to sleep. Works for me. :)

My son does not get his own way all the time. He's also been in playgroups and classes and is in FT daycare. AP doesn't have to mean never sharing or whatever. It's just a particular approach to particular issues.

Posted by: Shandra | October 10, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

wondering- Here's my advise. Don't try to label your parenting. Do what works for you and your baby.

Posted by: atb | October 10, 2007 11:05 AM


Take some time to familiarize yourself with basic child development patterns and different parenting techniques. Try to understand WHY your child is crying and respond appropriately (yes, I consider CIO to be a response, too... just make sure you know WHY you're doing it).

If your kid is crying because he's in a dirty diaper, what good is CIO going to do? If your kid is crying because he hasn't been taught to self-soothe, what good is feeding him going to do?

You're a grown adult. Figure out what is going on with your kid and respond appropriately. You won't guess right every time, but you can do your best.

Posted by: Bob | October 10, 2007 11:28 AM | Report abuse

I am glad I had my daugher many years ago before all these "parenting styles" came into vogue. I learned what her cries meant and responded appropriately. She slept through the night at 5 weeks and was a great baby. Sure there were fussy days where I let her cry it out in her crib, she was fine. Stop worrying about placing the baby at the center of your life. One day they grow up and need to learn that they are not the center everywhere they go. My daughter is in middle school now and I can point out all the center of the family kids in a heartbeat. They are spoiled and rude. Kids need boundaries and parents need to have a relationship outside of their kids. I think that is why divorce is so high, everyone is so worried about jr. that they forgot they were a couple first and will be again when their baby grows up. My daughter has learned balance. Her parents are there to support and guide her, but she needs to learn some things on her own. That is how she will continue on the path towards being a great adult. Perhaps not perfect, but it works for us. Trust your instincts and ignore the "helpful" people that try to tell you different.

Posted by: California Mom | October 10, 2007 11:56 AM | Report abuse

Wondering -- I agree with others. There is a certain degree of trusting yourself involved (assuming you have at reasonable instincts and at least some understanding of child development). At 6 weeks, it's very hard to "read" a baby. But eventually you will be able to understand the motivations behind a great deal of communication (verbal or non-verbal) from the child. You then use that judgment to decide how you will respond. Like Bob said, sometimes a cry really means the child needs support. Sometimes it's an attempt to get something else (going to see grandma in another poster's example). You'll probably be able to tell the difference most of the time.

Posted by: sciencemom | October 10, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Seems like lots of the comments are tapping into a big issue for our society (or at least for folks I hang out with) these days:

To what degree does the "balance" in your family shift toward the kids needs/desires/interests versus those of the adults?

I have friends on both sides of this spectrum. One talked to me when I was pregnant about the importance of fitting our baby-to-be into our lives, rather than structuring our lives around the baby. It appealed to me to some degree. But of course once we had the baby, I found that a bit laughable, especially in the early years.

Now that my daugther is going on two, I sometimes wonder if we're TOO focused on her. It seems like a double-edged sword -- our children are getting more attention from their parents (especially their dads) than we did. But are they also learning that the world revolves around them, something that could be really difficult in the future as they transition to new environments? Is this quandry related to the fact that my husband and I -- and most of my friends -- work nearly full-time and feel the need to spend as much time as possible enjoying each other when we're together (rather than, say grocery shopping)?

Posted by: sciencemom | October 10, 2007 12:15 PM | Report abuse

In my (limited) expierence, hard-core attachement parenting (that seems like an oxymoron LOL) can lead to spoiling the children. My SIL is very much an attachment parenting parent. My neice nursed til 7 and the family still cosleeps (neice is 10 now). She won't pick up her toys, clean her room, help with the dishes, etc b/c she doesn't want to, and she never has to do what she doesn't want. The neice has few friends her age, when at a BBQ with lots of children her age, she gravetates to following adults around.

Is this a result of taking attachement parenting to an extreme or is it just lack of discipline by my SIL? I don't know the true answer, but since attachement parenting as also seems to lack discipline, I think its a combo of both. I'm not advocating for authoritarian parenting or anything. But allowing a child to throw her things whereever without ever picking up is a bit much. Even if the justification is she doesn't need to do it b/c her parents will. By age 7, she was repeating those lines to me when I would babysit and asked her to do anything work-like.

Posted by: To wondering | October 10, 2007 12:24 PM | Report abuse

sciencemom- Yes! But! I want to spend every minute outside of work being a family, but being a family is only pleasant with a well-behaved child! I have an infant, so manners are only being introduced at this point, but I also have 7 nieces and nephews, 11 months to 11 years. The best-behaved (6 year old niece) was (she's in 1st grade now) the only grandchild in FT daycare. Her parents brought her up to be polite knowing that people dislike rude children. It can be done.

Posted by: atb2 | October 10, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

My SIL and BIL did the attachment parenting. Their daughter slept in their bed and their lives revolved around her. By the time she was 4, and still not potty trained because she didn't want to and talking about it embarrased her, she was still in her parents bed and she now had a little brother to take away some of her attention. The kid was miserable and acting out. When she was 5 she couldn't start kindergarten because she still wasn't potty trained and was too immature. This was the wake up call they needed. She is 7 now and doing better since her parents decided that maybe they needed to worry less about her feelings and more about what she needed to grow up. The little brother is much better at 3 than his sister was. Lesson learned.

Posted by: Anon | October 10, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

I don't think attachment parenting has anything to do with spoiling a child. We co-slept with our daughter until she was three and a half. We've always addressed all of her complaints beginning when they were cries in infancy to gripes now in pre-adolescence. That doesn't mean we spoil her. We address her complaints not give in to her every demand. There is a difference. So while my daughter knows she is loved and valued (obviously not the only way to express these things to a child, just worked for us) she also knows that no means no, maybe means I have to think about it, and yes means yes. She also knows that a whining fit after a no is likely to get her in hot water. Does she still do it? Sure, she's a little kid. But the consequences are always the same and consistency is just as importance as hugs/kisses/cuddles.

Posted by: 21117 | October 10, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I did the sling, the breast-feeding, the baby in the crib C-clamped to our bed (this was for my own sanity. I was not going to get out of a warm bed and walk into another room to nurse a child at night!)
I think you'd find my two girls are pretty independent. No problems with daycare, potty training, getting along with other kids. The thing about parenting is that you have to adjust all the time as the kids grow. So I'm with the folks who say do what works for you -- and when it doesn't, try something else. Mom and Dad's sanity is a crucial factor in the parenting equation! Attachment parenting techniques made dealing with a baby so much easier for ME, never mind the baby. Happy Mom, happy baby as they say.

Posted by: anne. | October 10, 2007 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Even after a total of 40 years parenting experience, I still don't know if the desirable/undesirable qualities I see in my kids has anything to do with my parenting techniques. My kids have had the same parents all their lives, how can they be so different?

So naturally I give myself credit for all the good things my kids do, and blame my wife for all the bad things. i'll say things to my wife like, "MY DAUGHTER brought home a great report card, YOUR SON, however, got a bad grade..."

She does the same kind of stuff to me too!

I'm not going to fool myself into thinking I have all the parenting solutions because I know I'm just making it up as I go along. I do know that I have a tendency to make decisions that maximize the enjoyment I receive from the responsibility of parenting . That's my goal, and so far, it's worked out pretty well.

Posted by: DandyLion | October 10, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for all the responses to my earlier question about attachment parenting and spoiling. Very interesting stuff!

Posted by: wondering | October 10, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

To Wondering: your niece nursed until 7??? SEVEN???? Please PLEASE tell me you meant until 7 in the morning, or something else. That's just plain WRONG.

Posted by: Dadof2 | October 10, 2007 2:10 PM | Report abuse

You know, for those of you criticizing what I said, I gave the basic philosophy of attachment parenting. There's no requirement for co-sleeping or "spoiling" a child. Moreover, the important thing to remember is that, regardless of parenting style, the specifics of what you do changes as the child gets older.

For a baby, you respond to their crying and figure out what's wrong -- that's attachment parenting style. However, this is quite different from giving in to a 3 year old's every demand. That has nothing to do with attachment parenting. Attachment parenting isn't about being a parental wimp. It isn't about turning a 3 year old into a tiny tyrant.

If you're curious about it, please Dr. Sears' baby book.

But please, just because someone claims to practice attachment parenting doesn't mean they're actually doing it. (Sounds like lots of people with their religious faiths, doesn't it?).

However, I will be frank on one thing: Why in the world would you ignore an infant's crying? Why would you "let them cry it out"? These are infants, for goodness sake! They don't understand the world. They don't know why their stomachs start aching for food. They don't know why they're suddenly all alone. All they want is food or comfort or their diaper changed. Why would you deny that to your infant? Why would you ignore them? Again, to be clear, I'm talking about an infant -- not your three year old that you don't know how to discipline.

Posted by: Ryan | October 10, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Don't bother, Ryan, some people apparently can't distance themselves from their obnoxious friends who latched on to the term "attachment parenting" because they thought it was trendy.

Our child co-slept and breast fed at night until she was 4, is the center of our family, and does not get squat unless she says "Please" and "Thank you". She also has to clean up after herself and her friends when they come over if they leave a mess. She helps out the first time she is asked because she knows that we value her and her contributions, and also because if we have to remind her more than once there are immediate consequences.

While you can probably tell we're strict about certain things, most of the time we also agree to whatever she asks whenever possible, because she does not ask for anything unreasonable; also, we want her to learn to make those types of choices herself, rather than be passive and wait for others to give her ideas about what is fun or what is cool. I'm very pleased to say she comes up with very interesting ideas and projects all on her own, and I'm constantly amazed and full of wonder watching and listening to her.

Posted by: The Cosmic Avenger | October 10, 2007 2:51 PM | Report abuse

To Ryan and Cosmic Avenger:

Sorry if you are offended. I simply stated what I've seen among my friends. They are not "obnoxious" in the least bit -- and in fact they have begun expressing concerns about their children's behavior and are starting to rethink their approach. Perhaps they've misunderstood attachment parenting, but -- if so -- I hardly think they are alone in that regard. Nor would I say they are at the extreme end of folks who say they practice "attachment parenting".

For the record, I could care less how long someone co-sleeps (or whether they do) or how long they nurse. It's the overall approach that I reference, not these specific behaviors.

Part of my skepticism of this movement(I have read Dr. Sear's work, thank you) comes from my training. I am a developmental psychologist, and I think it's telling that most developmental psychologists (who coined the term attachment and study it in detail) see attachment parenting as a complete misrepresentation of the literature on attachment and parenting.

Posted by: sciencemom | October 10, 2007 3:08 PM | Report abuse

"Part of my skepticism of this movement(I have read Dr. Sear's work, thank you) comes from my training. I am a developmental psychologist, and I think it's telling that most developmental psychologists (who coined the term attachment and study it in detail) see attachment parenting as a complete misrepresentation of the literature on attachment and parenting. "

How so?

I mean I really don't see how "the baby bs" leads to spoiled kids, since they are designed for babies.

Posted by: Shandra | October 10, 2007 3:11 PM | Report abuse

No.. I meant 7 years old. Maybe slightly less. At 6 1/2 I know she still was occasionally (bedtime). When I saw her at Christmas, a couple months after she turned 7, she mentioned she stopped. Shortly thereafter, she started developing her own.

I really wish I was making this up... its very weird to have your 1st grade neice bring up nursing.

She is 10 now, and still a bit odd.

Posted by: to Dadof2 | October 10, 2007 3:29 PM | Report abuse

The attachment literature says nothing about most of the practices discussed in "attachment parenting". By attachment, those theorists do not mean co-sleeping, wearing babies, breastfeeding etc.

In fact, the research on attachment between babies who've been carried in close physical proximity to their mothers (e.g., slings) and those that have not shows no difference in quality of attachment. No good studies show a relationship between breastfeeding and attachment either -- the benefits are identified in health outcomes, not attachment.

The research on parenting suggests that the most effective style of parenting is a blend of nurturance, warmth, and discpline. This is on average -- there are probably some differences based on characteristics of the child and the family's environment.

It's not that attachment parenting is somehow bad for children-- I was stating my own experience with a small number of friends, not something based in science. It's just that the practice has no scientific support.

There actually IS research, however, to suggest that "permissive" parenting -- which is characterized by high levels of warmth and nurturance and low levels of discpline -- is not good for children's academic or social and emotional development. So to the extent that parents following "attachment parenting" go lax on rules, boundaries, and discipline (which it sounds like no one on this board is doing), there could be some negative consequences.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Woops -- that last comment was to Shandra, from me

Posted by: sciencemom | October 10, 2007 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Sciencemom, what does "permissive parenting" have to do with how you respond to your baby? I'm just wondering because I've been focusing on babies in what I talk about. Can you "permissively" parent (or not "permissively" parent) a 6 month old? Is feeding them when they cry "giving in"? I don't think so and I doubt you agree.

So, I really don't see why people object to feeding their babies when they're hungry or, in some way, responding to their babies when they are upset.

Posted by: Ryan | October 10, 2007 4:17 PM | Report abuse

Sciencemom: Thanks, that's interesting. I suppose we use high levels of warmth and nurturance and moderate-to-high levels of discipline. And by discipline, I mean order and consistency, not punishment. I find actual punishment is hardly ever necessary, but when it is, it is swift, predictable, and appropriate. I suppose the issue is that lots of parents today, whether they consider themselves to be practicing "attachment parenting" or not, are lazy about discipline (as previously defined), which ironically makes for MORE work in the end, not less.

Posted by: The Cosmic Avenger | October 10, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Ryan -- I think the difference most of us are citing is NOT in early infancy (i.e., younger than 6 months). I would guess that -- these days -- the majority of parents, regardless of their philosophy (or if they even have one), respond to a young baby's cries at night with feeding, soothing, etc. That's the current thinking on how to parent young infants -- and it's in practically all of the baby books, even those promoting practices that are unacceptable to the "attachment parenting" folks. Attachment parenting does not have a monopoly on nurturing behavior.

It's what happens between 6 months and a year, and even more so between 1 year and 2 years that seems to differentiate the "attachment parenting" parents I've seen from other philosophies and approaches.

When your 1 year old starts a routine of waking up in the middle of the night -- after not doing so for three months on end -- and wants to feed, what do you do? For me, I start out by going in to soothe her. But if it starts looking like a pattern, going on for weeks (and I know there's no reason she's crying), I will sometimes let her cry it out. She cries for 15 minutes and never wakes up again. In the morning, she is not displaying any sort of distance to me -- our attachment bond remains quite strong because I am still loving and nurturing her.

Similarly, for the friends I referenced above, their children were nursing multiple times in a night at a fairly late age -- one of them was up 4 times a night nursing her 14 month old. She fed her, whereas I probably would have tried to get her to take water (so eventually she'd stop bothering) or eventually let her cry it out.

Cosmic Avenger -- I'd agree completely. So many parents struggle with how to discipline their children. And this is not limited to folks who espouse "attachment parenting".

Posted by: sciencemom | October 10, 2007 4:35 PM | Report abuse

to sciencemom - Ah, I see. To me that's more about different uses of the word attachment than anything else. I'm not exactly sure that practices like CIO are scientifically supported either, though - the only research I've seen on CIO just suggests that it ups stress hormones.

I don't personally believe that letting a 14 mo old or even a two year old nurse at night (or not, or have a glass of water, or not) is a discipline issue.

To me it's basically a "family mechanics" choice. If I were a brain surgeon who needed to perform surgery many days, my family would work a lot differently and I might've CIO'd, but I didn't. I simply didn't see the rush. And now at 2 yrs 2 mos, he sleeps 10-11 hrs through fine, in our bed, with the aforementioned brief look around from time to time (normal).

I gradually night weaned my son as he got old enough to understand that nursies go night-night, but I can't see that it had a thing to do with whether I was authoritative or permissive. I haven't read a whole lot of AP stuff, just skimmed the Sears, but I haven't found any AP book that said "let your kid be rampant brats" either. (Now consensual living stuff... maybe :))

To me, middle of the night stuff (unless clearly something like throwing toys around or getting out of bed to play) simply is a question of whether I extend comfort, or push my son to self-soothe.

During the day and with issues like tantrums and two-yr-old level defiance and stuff, I deal with it without hitting, but it certainly doesn't slide.

Posted by: Shandra | October 10, 2007 9:46 PM | Report abuse

To Shandra,

I'd agree completely -- there's no scientific link for most any of these practices, including CIO. I think my frustration with attachment parenting -- and that of many of my colleagues -- is that many AP parents try to (wrongly) suggest that the attachment literature somehow supports their approach AND suggest that the folks using these other approaches are actually doing harm. It's just not true.

As for my friends and their approaches . . . I, too, would agree that nighttime CIO vs. giving milk vs. whatever is not itself a disciplinary issue. But for these particular families, it is a symptom of a larger challenge they are facing. The child's needs dominate their family, and they have a hard time saying no when their child cries.

The "discipline" focus in the parenting literature is not just about how a parent responds when a child does something that parent doesn't like, it's also about establishing boundaries for the child and enforcing those boundaries when the child doesn't respond. This, of course, looks very different for children of different ages, but it starts in early childhood.

Posted by: sciencemom | October 11, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for clarifying, sciencemom. I agree that some AP people go totally overboard - I just don't think it's inherent in the approach.

Posted by: Shandra | October 11, 2007 3:47 PM | Report abuse

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