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Babywearing ≠ Attachment

I love babywearing. It’s a great way to give babies comfort & allow mothers to more easily go about their daily activities. Additionally, it’s the norm for human babies to be in regular physical contact with their caregivers. In non-Western societies, infants are in body contact with their caregivers 79–99% of the day, compared with 18% in the West.

Where I struggle with things is the 5 Bs of attachment parenting. American paediatrician William Sears stated that these 5 activities form the basis of Attachment Parenting: Bonding at Birth, Breastfeeding, Babywearing, Bed Sharing & Being Responsive. Sears’ argued that by following these principles you & your child would form a happy & secure attachment.

However, this is not how it works. Alan Sroufe, developmental psychologist & attachment researcher for over 40 years, says it best: “Attachment is not a set of tricks”. Instead it’s a relationship in the service of a baby’s emotion regulation & exploration. It is the deep, abiding confidence a baby has in the availability & responsiveness of the caregiver.

The principles of attachment parenting are all fine things, but they’re not essential. There’s no evidence that they predict a secure attachment. The only one of the of the 5 Bs that has been shown to predict a secure attachment is ‘Being responsive’.

The reason babywearing is linked with attachment parenting is because being in close physical contact with your baby makes it easier to recognise their signals. Increased awareness enhances a caregivers’ responsiveness and THIS is what matters. A responsive caregiver that accurately reads and meets their infant’s needs is what is going to help foster a secure attachment.

There are many reasons a parents may not want to, or be unable to babywear. This WILL NOT damage your relationship with their child. There are SO many other ways to foster a healthy & secure relationship. In the meantime, head over to @carryingmatters for some wonderful babywearing tips & tricks.

References: Bigelow 2020; Hewitt & Lamb 2002; Sroufe & Siegel 2011; Divecha 2017

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