Geek Out – Current Research and Parenting Prep

3+ weeks to go! I’m sure my brain has melted with thoughts of baby. I’ve given up making coherent, concrete steps towards preparedness and am content to wander from rocking chair, to kitchen, to sewing machine, to computer accomplishing little random tasks.

Practical! Cloth diapers are surprisingly easy to make.

I’m to the point where we’re pretty much as ready as we’ll ever be for baby to join us out here, so I’m not running around like a crazy person anymore. Besides, walking is hard enough! I haven’t stopping preparing though. I am making cloth diapers and covers (free pattern at http://www.handmadebyrita.blogspot.com/) and using the scraps for burp cloths, baby wipes and wash cloths. It’s kind of ridiculous how much cloth wipes cost when I can make a dozen out of scraps left over from making a fitted diaper from $4 worth of material… I’ll have to write another post just on that! We’ve stocked up on some food and lots of supplies as well. I’ve relaxing with some crochet toys and a baby blanket in my gift of an antique rocking chair, fixed up by my sweetie:

New to me, but this rocking chair is OOOOOOLD for sure. I love it! You can see my crochet blanket project on the arm.

Detail of the very old repair on the even older chair. Beautiful.

True to my geek nature, I have also been reading and researching A TON. My favorite books have been Birth Without Violence by Frederick Leboyer M.D., Raising Our Children, Raising Ourselves by Naomi Aldort, and the few parts I’ve read of The Continuum Concept by the recently passed Jean Liedloff (the book is still reserved for others at my library, so I’ve only read bits online… but I already dig it).

These books all inform somewhat on what is known as attachment parenting. It’s easy enough to find information about attachment parenting online, in fact, maybe too easy. It seems like everyone is an expert and countless message boards clamor with cries for help and suspect advice. I’m not a big fan of unverified anecdotal evidence, so I turned to the science of “why attachment parenting?” Here are some scientific evidence-based arguments:

Quality of Parent-Toddler Relationship Could Affect Risk for Childhood Obesity

“Our hypothesis is that secure attachment could reduce the risk for childhood obesity by preventing frequent or exaggerated stress responses from disrupting the normal functioning and development of the systems that affect energy balance and body weight. Children’s stress responses and emotion regulation are formed in early childhood in the context of parent-child interactions, and one indicator that the child has developed healthy emotion regulation and stress response is secure attachment.”

How Do Secure Mother-Child Attachments Predict Good Friendships?

“Several pathways led from close early mother-child attachment to later friendship quality. In one pathway, children who were securely attached at age three showed more open emotional communication with mothers and better language ability at four and a half, she said…”This finding suggests that the way children interpret other people’s behavior may begin to develop in the context of early relationships in the family, and these interpretations may be important for a child’s ability to get along with friends later on,” she said.”

Mother-Child Attachment, Children’s Temperament Play A Role In ‘Terrible 2′ Conflicts

“High-quality relationships between mothers and children were associated with more constructive conflict between mothers and children. In secure relationships, both mothers and children seem committed to maintaining relational harmony by resolving conflict, compromising, and justifying their side of an argument.”

These are just a few of the solid scientific reasons that fostering secure attachments, with either parent, is better for children. There are many, many studies of this kind being done right now and evidence-based parenting advice is the only kind that makes sense to me. We are starting to monitor babies’ and toddlers’ brain waves now which will give us even more accurate insight into what children need to be healthy. Before a certain age, for example, babies don’t have the wiring to soothe themselves and rely on their parents to calm and comfort them. This is a HUGE difference from the “cry it out” approach that was standard when I was young, which we know now may actually cause brain damage in infants. Sleep is another interesting area of research contradicting old assumptions:

For Infant Sleep, Receptiveness More Important Than Routine

“Emotions are the most basic form of communication between babies and parents,” Teti said. His findings pose new challenges to parents because they suggest that being emotionally available — paying attention to cues and responding to children appropriately — is more effective than a specific bedtime behavior in promoting better sleep.

The researchers found no significant relation between sleep disruptions and the amount of time parents spent in close contact with infants or involved in quiet activities before bedtime. This contradicts past research, which had suggested that prolonged close physical contact with a parent undermines babies’ ability to sleep on their own.”

*****

So there you have it, my reasoning for a more scientific approach to parenting. I’m certainly not going to tell other parents what they should do with their babies, but I would hope that our seemingly unorthodox approach will be honored. Becoming a parent is no reason for me to abandon my logical nature and I hope, like any parent, that our son will grow up happy and healthy with our help… and a little help from modern science (Plentiful Maternal Affection in Early Infancy Boosts Adult Coping Skills, Study Finds).

BONUS: I get a bigger brain too! New Mothers Grow Bigger Brains Within Months of Giving Birth: Warmer Feelings Toward Babies Linked to Bigger Mid-Brains

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4 Responses to Geek Out – Current Research and Parenting Prep

  1. Good luck with your baby! I like your home made diaper. Looks like we’ll be delivering around the same time. :-)

    • oddtonic says:

      Thank you and good luck to you as well! Making the diaper was waaaaaaaaay easier than I thought it would be, I highly recommend it. Looks like we have a few other things in common as well as a due date! We are going to try EC as well so paying a ton for diapers didn’t make any sense. Also wanting to get back into running-shape as soon as feasible. We’ll have to swap notes ;)

  2. Sarah says:

    Thanks for pointing out these studies!

    An important thing to note is that those who ascribe to “attachment parenting” did not discover child-caregiver attachment, and it is not the only way to develop a secure attachment with your children. I find many of the ideas in attachment parenting helpful (am also expecting!), but deceptive is the belief that seems to have been created that attachment parenting is the only way to create a secure attachment with your children.

    One human development textbook define attachment as “the strong affectionate tie we have with special people in our lives that leads us to feel pleasure when we interact with them and to be comforted by their nearness in times of stress” (“Development Through the Lifespan” by Laura E. Berk). Attachment is not created only by attachment parenting – children can be attached to other family members and caregivers as well.

    I just want to note that to say that this research is not saying that “attachment parenting” creates these results, but that secure attachments, which is a scientific term, does seem to bring these results.

    Happy reading and researching!

    • oddtonic says:

      Thanks Sarah, great point! I think the “AP” moniker is the part I have trouble with – some advice on attachment parenting is too many steps removed from the original goal (secure attachments). That is why I linked to this research rather than AP sites, I just hadn’t noticed I could drop the term altogether in favor of “secure attachment”. And I agree, there are surely many ways to do this.

      Thanks for the book recommendation, I haven’t heard of this one! Congrats on your little one too! My son was born last Thursday and we are overjoyed :D Thinking about writing his birth story down soon.

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