"Attachment Parenting" is something many people still associate with the hippies next door - you know, the ones who are still breastfeeding their 3 year-old and smell like patchouli.
I am here to say you don't have to be crunchy or a hippie to reap the benefits of attachment parenting. I know most mainstream people will say that kids who are raised with attachment in mind are shy, clingy kids. Through experience, I have found quite the opposite to be true.
Children who are exposed to the concepts of attachment parenting, some of which are co-sleeping, extended breast feeding, baby wearing and gentle discipline, are more outgoing and secure in themselves. They have the knowledge that when they need you, you will respond to their needs in a timely manner which gives them the security and confidence to go out and explore. It doesn't mean giving into their every whim or letting them rule the house, but rather letting natural consequences (within reason, you have to keep them safe) and their needs (not wants) guide you.
A good example is responding to the needs of a crying infant and not letting them cry it out. Babies aren't milk - you can't spoil them with love. I have happily co-slept with all 5 of my kids. Some for as little as 3 months (my son decided he preferred his own space) and some as long as 2 years plus. My youngest is still in our bed happily elbowing me and my husband through out the night. We are going to make the move soon to get her into her own bed, but more for her comfort then ours.
The key point is you let what works best for your child decide. Attachment parenting doesn't have to be an all or nothing choice either. Sure, Dr. William Sears suggests child-led weaning, but we all know that it isn't always that easy. Sometimes a Mama can't nurse at all or she hates it but struggles through 6 months in the hopes to give her wee one a good start. Sometimes we have to stop for medical reasons.
You can bring the theories over to bottle feeding as well. Instead of propping up a bottle for your baby in a car seat or swing, pick that baby up! Talk to them as they drink from the bottle, sing to them. Let them know that for those few minutes you are focused 100% on them.
Probably my favourite part of parenting with attachment in mind has been baby wearing. It becomes not only a way to bond with your baby, but gives a Mom a chance to accessorize her wardrobe with fantastic pieces of fabric. Its also a very natural way to interact. Your child is at or near your eye level, experiencing all the sights and sounds of the world around them. It allows for more freedom for parents as well. Its a whole lot easier to get pretty much anywhere if you aren't lugging around a stroller. Breast feeding makes it that much easier since milk is at hand and at temperature anytime. Sounds good to me.
The basic concept of attachment parenting is to simply foster behaviours that forge a healthy bond and attachment between a child and a caregiver. Attachment parenting isn't hard and it's not an exact system. Respond to a child's needs as they express them, use natural consequences and use your instincts.
Happy baby means a happy mummy, which can only be a good thing all around!