If you’re a new mom, just immersing yourself in the world of online parenting, you may have noticed a lot of different talk about parenting philosophies. You’ve also probably noticed when reading through comments on basically any post relating to parenting that parenting styles differ drastically from person to person. How do you know which style is the right fit for you? It will depend on a few factors, including your own personality, and that of your baby once he/she is born. For such tiny little humans, they can be extraordinarily opinionated. It’s also not necessary to label yourself. Knowing who you generally side with can make seeking information a little more streamlined, though. Dr. Sears and Dr. Karp are two of the most popular baby gurus on the internet. Their ideas are different, but the beauty is, you get to choose which things work for you and your family.
Dr. Sears is a major proponent of what is considered “attachment parenting”, which seeks to build a close relationship between you and your child so that you can react to their needs in the moment. You keep your baby close at all times and respond to their cues, rather than the clock.
The “7 B’s of Attachment Parenting” are
Birth Bonding: Immediate skin-to-skin after birth, when possible. Spending as much time bonding after birth as possible.
Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding on demand requires you to get to know your baby’s early hunger cues, and the oxytocin released helps promote bonding.
Babywearing: Babies who are worn tend to be less fussy because they are held tight against the mother and can hear her heartbeat. It’s much like being back in the womb (though much drier).
Bedding close to baby: Being able to quickly and easily respond to baby at night will allow everyone to get more sleep and baby to feel more secure at night.
Belief in the language value of your baby’s cry: Building trust through responding to your baby’s cry every time, rather than letting them cry-it-out.
Beware of baby trainers: Trust yourself to be the expert on YOUR baby, rather than the generalized advice of others, even if they’re “experts”.
Balance: Putting baby first doesn’t mean putting yourself or your partner last. Finding a healthy balance benefits everyone.
Dr. Harvey Karp, and his book (and DVD) The Happiest Baby on the Block teach you how to soothe a crying/colicky baby. It relies more on physical objects and less on the mother’s body to comfort the baby.
The 5 S’s:
Swaddle: This recreates the snugness of the womb and helps calm baby. It also helps with babies who move around a lot and wake themselves frequently. (Note that a swaddle should not be used if you are bed-sharing) They even make nifty snapping swaddle blankets and Miracle Blankets that make the whole process more simple!
Side or stomach position: While your baby should always be placed on their back to sleep, according to the AAP, calming a baby is more likely to work by placing them on their side/stomach across your arm or shoulder.
Shush: White noise that recreates the sound of the womb is ideal. Baby’s aren’t used to sleeping in silence because your body is quite loud. You can also make shushing sounds as loud as the level of baby’s crying to help them calm down.
Swing: Mimics the movements of the womb. Watch the Happiest Baby on the Block DVD for a demonstration on how to do this safely.
Sucking: The sucking reflex is generally very calming for babies, so a pacifier can go a long way towards soothing a fussy baby!
Likely, some combination of these philosophies will be best for your situation. There’s no reason you have to choose, and no good will come of trying to force yourself into a box you’re not comfortable in. Want to wear your baby when you’re out but swaddle them at home? Awesome. Want to breastfeed but also allow baby to soothe on a pacifier to give you a break? That’s great, too. You really are the expert on your baby. You have to do what works for both of you.
Tiffany DePute of Houston Family Birth