There are many different theories on how babies should be cared for. Many mothers take to the instinct of picking up their babies every time they cry, while others try the “crying it out” method to sleep train. Each type of response has a significant impact on the development of your baby’s brain. In the modern world, many changes have been made to the average household. Two working parents and increased use of daycare centers has made the practice of attachment parenting a difficult method to carry out. The benefits of more natural parenting ideals, however, are becoming more understood in recent years. Many people are making an attempt to go back to attachment parenting, breastfeeding, and staying at home with baby.
This is a method of parenting where the baby is met with comfort or has its needs met every time there is crying. The baby is also held close, mainly to the mother, as much as possible. Many parents using this method co-sleep, or keep the baby in the same room with them. Attachment parenting is based on the idea that crying is a baby’s way of communicating, and that they should not be ignored. Expressing a need, and having that need met, is thought to increase security and independence later on. Babies are kept close and held the majority of the time. Parents using this method often use slings or carriers to keep the baby attached to their body.
The closeness provided by attachment parenting has the same positive effect on the brain as any other positive human contact. Oxytocin is produced when you snuggle or a get a hug. Breastfeeding is a big part of this method, as well. Breastfeeding releases bonding hormones, making it much easier to form a strong bond with the baby. This also reinforces that the need for food is met by a parent.
Babies that have been raised with attachment parenting have been proven to be smarter later in life. The developing brain of a baby consists of many attachments that have not been made yet. If the proper connections do not take place, nerve cells in the brain die. The neurons (electrical wires in the brain) grow immensely during the first year. Skin-to skin contact is a big factor when it comes to improving parent-infant attachment. This allows the neurons to develop properly. A baby that is stressed from “crying it out” cannot focus on learning about the world around them. The brain then develops in a negative way, reinforcing anxiety.
Through attachment parenting, babies learn about their parent’s response to their verbal and bodily cues. The brain needs to be stimulated in a positive way to make the proper connections. The increased interaction with the baby also helps stimulate the brain and helps baby learn better. A state called “quiet alertness” is how babies learn best. This state of mind takes place when needs are met, and the baby remains calm and secure.
Attachment parenting reinforces the facts that babies cry for a reason. The communication between parent and baby significantly impacts the way a baby learns and responds to stressors later in life. When needs are not met, the brain focuses on anxiety instead of learning. The connections in the brain then become wired wrong, leading to cognitive and emotional issues as they grow. Attachment parenting is a natural state of simply responding to a baby properly and keeping them close.