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Attachment parenting and language development

Can attachment parenting really impact on your baby’s development? According to Dr. Sears it does. If you step back and think about it though, it really does make sense.

One major facet of attachment parenting is responding to your baby’s cries as needs. Responding to every one of your baby’s cries teaches your baby something important about communication. He learns that what he “says” means something. Because all cries are responded to, the baby cries less and is in more in tune with his environment. Also when you respond to each cry there is more opportunity for interaction between parent and child. Babies that are more in tune with their environment and have more opportunity for interaction are at an advantage when it comes to language learning.

Breastfeeding is another common practice in attachment parenting. Research has shown that a breastfeeding mother is more likely to touch and gaze at her infant during feeding than a child who is fed with a bottle. This increase in touch and gaze builds a strong foundation for future language skills. Nonverbal communication is at the basis of language development. Engaging your baby in a gaze and touch will encourage him to return the gaze and touch. Your baby’s gaze and touch are some of the earliest forms of communication.

Another common practice in attachment parenting is baby wearing. Baby wearing is the act of wearing your baby in a sling, wrap, or some type of baby carrier. Many who practice attachment parenting put their baby in a carrier during fussier periods of the day or at times when a non-attachment-parented-baby would usually go in a swing or bouncy toy. Your baby’s language skills are benefitted by having a similar view point. In short, your baby benefits by being able to see what you see. Talking about what you are doing or seeing with your baby or others around you will help your baby make connections between your words and what they mean. You can talk with a baby while he is in a swing or a bouncy seat, but because they do not have the same field of vision they will not make the connection as quickly as a baby in a carrier.

As a young infant you can put your baby in a carrier like the Moby Wrap or the Maya Wrap. Depending on how you place the baby in the wrap your baby can have a view of you or what you are doing. Talk about what you are doing or seeing using single words or short simple phrases to your infant. Spend a little time gazing at the wonderful creature snuggled up next to you. Both of those activities help build a foundation of strong language skills. Using a backpack style carrier like the Ergo carrier when your baby gets older is a great way for them to see what you see and make more connections between words and what the words mean.

While a baby can grow up to have wonderful language skills without attachment parenting, attachment parenting naturally helps promote your baby’s language development. Many of the strategies employed by speech therapists of young language delayed children are similar to what naturally occurs in attachment parenting practices. Maybe there is something to this attachment parenting idea after all.


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