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Attachment Parenting (AP) is a philosophy and practice that encourages respectful, empathic, and gentle techniques to meet a child's needs. AP was brought into the public eye by Dr. William and Martha Sears in several books on child rearing. The belief inherent to AP is that meeting your child's needs encourages happiness and independence. A babies cry is thought of as a communication of needs rather than a manipulations. Another philosophy of AP is that by respecting the developmental time frames of children, they will grow up to be emotionally healthy and secure adults. The implementation of these principles varies to meet the specific needs of individual families. There are certain practices, however, which are thought to be critical in attachment parenting.

PRACTICES OF ATTACHMENT PARENTING

1. Attachment parenting begins in pregnancy and childbirth. Mothers are encouraged to reduce the effects of stress in their lives. Parents should be informed about birth options and take a good prepared birth class. Home-birthing and birthing at a separate birth center are common practices with attachment parenting.

2. Early bonding to the child is thought to be crucial to his or her emotional development. AP encourages rooming in if the birth occurs in the hospital. This means that the baby sleeps in the room with the mother after delivery rather than in the hospital. Mothers are encouraged to breastfeed as soon as possible after delivery.

3. Parents should make an educated decision about societal practices affecting their child such as circumcision and immunization.

4. Breastfeeding is thought to be best for babies and should be used exclusively when possible. AP advocates child-led feeding and weaning.

5. Attachment Parenting encourages keeping the baby close by co-sleeping and carrying the baby in a sling or body carrier.

6. Parents are taught to respond quickly to their babies cries and avoid mother substitutes.

7. Discipline is based on realistic expectations of a child's behavior and incorporates gentle, positive reinforcement. Spanking and other types of punitive punishments should be avoided.

8. Parents are expected to pay close attention to their child's cues and remain flexible, respecting the individual temperament of their child.

9. Home-schooling, unschooling, or child-led learning are encouraged.