Attached from birth
Big Bang star Mayim Bialik is the newest proponent of ‘attachment parenting’
Imagine being stranded on an island — just you, your significant other and your newborn child. There are no parenting books or Internet. Instead, you rely on instinct to raise the baby. This, says Bill Sears, associate clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of California-irvine School of Medicine and the author of more than 40 books on parenting, is attachment parenting. He coined the term in the 1980s, and it has remained controversial over the years.
One prominent proponent of attachment parenting is TV actress Mayim Bialik ( The Big Bang Theory). Her new book, Beyond the Sling: A Real-life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting
Way, talks about her own journey from child actress ( Blossom) to neuroscientist (PHD from UCLA in 2007) to confident mom of two young boys, Miles and Frederick.
“I came to parenting the way most of us do — knowing nothing and trying to learn everything,” says Bialik, 36, whose book discusses some of what she sees as major tenets of attachment parenting: breastfeeding, “cosleeping” (baby in parents’ bed), wearing the baby in a sling and gentle discipline.
“For me, to see people like (singer) Gwen Stefani talking about breastfeeding and wearing her baby in a sling is tremendous. This is the best kind of trend there can be.”
Attachment parenting does come naturally, says Samantha Gray, executive director of Attachment Parenting International. It allows you to feel connected through a secure attachment, so you’re less confused about your child’s needs — whether eating, sleeping or playing, she says. Critics say it doesn’t allow parents to work outside the home or have their space. Gray and Sears disagree; they say it allows working parents to reconnect with their children and provide the nurturing necessary for development.
“As a parent, it’s natural to want to be close to your infant,” says Tonya Altmann, spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics and author of Mommy Calls: Dr. Tanya Answers Parents’ Top 101 Questions About Babies and Toddlers. But she recommends safety precautions for sleeping and says infants should be in “their own safe environments” — on their backs in a crib.
“It’s your child. You’ll always have an attachment,” she says, but “as your child gets older, it’s important to give them space.”
Space allows infants to learn to cue parents when they want to sleep or eat, and the earlier this is learned, the better, she adds.
Bialik, who hasn’t had a romantic getaway since before her children were born, is content with her choice to stay close to them day and night. She does all the child rearing — with the help of her mostly stay-at-home husband — and lives life on what she calls a “smaller” scale. She says parents need to lose the fear — “fear of being judged, fear of not being OK, fear that other people will think your kid is misbehaving, fear that other people will think you have no life.”