So how do I go about developing a secure attachment between my baby and me – should I breastfeed, co-sleep, carry her around in a sling all day? Many would have you believe that these factors are not only important in developing that attachment but that they are essential. The truth is that they are neither important nor essential. Developing trust between you and you baby is not down to physical needs being met – but in emotional needs being met.
It’s true, yes that without physical needs of food, touch and sleep that a baby will not flourish. But you don’t need to breastfeed your baby to feed her. You don’t need to co-sleep with your baby to get her sleep. And you don’t need to carry your baby in a sling to meet her need for touch. The most effective way to develop that secure attachment is by reading your baby’s cues and responding to their needs with love and affection. For example if I choose to breastfeed my baby but am not present during feeds – instead I am distracted, going through the motions, not enjoying the action of feeding – my baby is not going to benefit emotionally from that experience. If however, I bottle feed her, showing her that I am listening, watching and reading her signals carefully, slowing down when needed, stopping the feed is required, burping etc– well, my baby will trust that I am indeed present and attuned to her needs.
A baby's need for touch is best met with skin to skin from the care giver, be it mother or father, from birth for the first few weeks. Baby should also be held as much as they need; some babies will want to held more than others. As regards sleep;
do whatever you and your baby are comfortable with, I think my daughter slept on my chest for the first few weeks or beside me in the bed, before moving to a side sleeper. But I know other babies who didn’t settle with close contact and preferred to be either swaddled and put in a cot or even just placed in a cot without being swaddled. Whatever it is your baby prefers don’t be afraid to do it that way – there is not only one correct way to parent.