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Attachment Parenting International – Eight Principles of Parenting

Attachment Parenting International is a non-profit group that promotes attachment parenting. An approach that builds strong emotional bonds between parents and their children is what attachment parenting is all about.

To help guide parents, Attachment Parenting International has summarized this parenting philosophy into eight main principles.

The principles of attachment parenting are:

1. Preparation for Pregnancy, Childbirth and Parenthood

Parental education is necessary, ideally before pregnancy even occurs. Parents need to be prepared to ensure the healthiest and safest pregnancy and delivery possible. Parents’ learning should continue even after birth so that they understand normal child development and what to expect.

2. Feeding with Love and Respect

Breastfeeding is the best way to nourish and nurture babies and to develop a strong bond between mother and child. However, even bottle-feeding parents can “bottle nurse” their babies or model breastfeeding behaviors while bottle feeding. One way to do this is by always holding the baby during a feeding. This principle love carries on to introducing solids, preparing nutritious food, and weaning gently.

3. Emotional Responsiveness

Be sensitive to and respond promptly to baby’s crying and other cues. This also means interacting with babies and spending plenty of one-on-one time with them. When children’s emotional needs are recognized and respected, they develop trust and are able to create attachments with their parents and others.

4. Nurturing Touch

Physical affection nourishes children physically and emotionally. Parents can provide nurturing touch through baby wearing, massage, hugs and other appropriate forms of physical affection. Even older children need plenty of nurturing touch.

5. Nighttime Parenting

Children continue to have needs at night, and parents should continue to respond to them. Not all babies can sleep through the night. Parents need to respect their own baby’s unique sleep patterns and needs. Some parents may find it best to co-sleep or bed share with their child, in order to continue to be responsive to their child at night. Attachment Parenting International provides safe sleep guidelines for parents who choose to share their bed with their children.

6. Consistent and Loving Care

The ideal main caregiver for a child is a parent. Otherwise, another loving adult with whom the child has formed an attachment is the next best thing. This principle also means minimizing long separations of baby from its parents. Babies are included in the family’s daily activities rather than regularly left with a babysitter or in a day care center. This also means having predictable, but not rigid, daily routines. Parents can also explore alternative working and living arrangements so that at least one of them is always with the child.

7. Positive Discipline

Attachment Parenting International believes in the golden rule of parenting: treat your children the way you yourself would want to be treated. Therefore, the use of corporal punishment, name-calling, shaming and other punitive actions are not acceptable. Instead, positive discipline is based on a strong bond of trust and love between parent and child, which allows the parent to guide the child and eventually develop internal self-control and true discipline. Positive discipline requires that parents understand normal child development so that they can effectively guide children without resorting to behavior control tactics that demean and diminish the child’s self-esteem.

8. Balanced Personal and Family Life

Attachment parenting is child-centered, but it also recognizes the needs of every member of the family. Mommy and Daddy will not be effective parents if their individual needs are not met. Therefore, parents should also take care of themselves and their relationship. Mothers need support, often from other mothers, to fulfill their important roles and prevent and address Mommy burn-out.

These eight principles of attachment parenting by Attachment Parenting International are ideals. Certainly no family could live up to all the principles all the time. However, by keeping these principles in mind and striving constantly to live them out in daily family life, parents can be confident that they are doing what they can to develop life-long emotional attachments in their families.

Alexis Rodrigo is a work at home Mom to 3 kids, certified childbirth educator and attachment parenting advocate. Get more attachment parenting tips, information and resources. Sign up for the FREE Natural Parenting Newsletter to receive attachment parenting info right in your Email by going to

Author: Alexis Rodrigo
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