Breastfeeding isn’t only about nourishing the child, but is also an important component of attachment parenting. Read on to know more.
By Aarti C Rajaratnam
The term attachment parenting was coined by the American paediatrician William Sears. The concept of attachment parenting is influenced largely by the attachment theory. The idea is to be sensitive and responsive to the needs of a child to help her feel securely attached to the parent. Attachment parenting, unlike other parenting practices, stresses on treating children with as much dignity, love, and respect as that afforded to an adult. It is guided by the following eight principles:
Mother's milk is one of the primary needs of an infant and breastfeeding is the healthiest infant-feeding choice. The physiological changes brought about by breastfeeding enhances maternal responsiveness and has several positive outcomes. Breastfeeding plays an important role in teaching infants that parents will listen to their cues and respond to their needs. This creates a sense of trust and security in the baby and helps develop secure attachment. The attachment parenting principle of 'Feeding with Love and Respect' is facilitated greatly by breastfeeding. It helps in developing a deep bond between the infant and the mother.
The skin-to-skin contact in breastfeeding increases awareness of each other. As a result, the baby feels nurtured all the time. Being close to a responsive mother helps the growing child become aware of his emotions and develop emotion-regulation skills. These skills are the two most important components of early childhood development and, lead to emotional intelligence later in life.
The feeling of secure attachment which develops through breastfeeding and the mother's response to the child's needs, helps build an infant's trust in the mother. Research shows that this helps in better:
When the mother is more attuned to her child’s needs, she is better able to communicate with and later, discipline her child. She becomes more aware of her child's competencies and preferences as the little one grows.
The relationship between the mother and the child encourages mutual sensitivity, trust, connectedness and flexibility — all of which bring out the best in each other.
Aarti C Rajaratnam is a psychologist specialising in childhood and adolescent mental health, a best-selling author, and an innovative education design consultant.
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