Finding an AP-Friendly Caregiver

December 21st, 2010 by Dionna | 53 Comments
Posted in Carnival and Special Series, Consistent and Loving Care, Feed with Love and Respect, Gentle Discipline Ideas, Successes, and Suggestions, Gentle/Positive Discipline, natural parenting, Respond with Sensitivity, Use Nurturing Touch

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The Sitter Who Cried “Ferber”

An acquaintance of mine recently shared a horror story about leaving her five month old baby with a sitter for a few hours. The sitter was auditioning for a role as a permanent nanny, because the mother is returning to work soon.

An hour into her outing, the mother started getting text messages from the sitter. The sitter expressed concern that the baby was crying inconsolably.

The mother responded with suggestions on how to help him calm down: walking with him in the sling, rubbing his back, bouncing him gently, giving him a bottle of breastmilk, singing to him.

Her mild feelings of discomfort soon led to the first twinges of panic when she received this text:

He won’t stop screaming!

When the sitter texted later that the baby was asleep, the mother felt some relief. Until she went to pick her son up and the sitter admitted “I had to let him cry it out – nothing else worked.”

When I heard this story, I was appalled that a caregiver would ever find it appropriate to leave a small baby alone in a room to scream and cry himself to sleep. Even if the sitter had chosen to “cry it out” with her own children, one would think that there is enough controversy about the practice that a childcare provider would make sure it was ok with the parent first.

Finding an AP-Friendly Caregiver

Parents who practice attachment (aka natural or responsive) parenting may have a few special requests for their childcare providers. Following is a list of questions (based in part on AP principles) that you might want to discuss with potential childcare providers before you feel comfortable leaving your child in their care.

1. Feed with Love and Respect

Pumping and continuing to nurture a healthy breastfeeding relationship may be one of a new mother’s biggest concerns when she returns to work. Here are a few questions that focus on feeding by caregivers:

  • Am I welcome to nurse my baby at any time  (on breaks, before/after work, etc.)?
  • When you give my baby pumped breastmilk, will you hold him?
  • Do you ever have to prop bottles? (If the answer is yes, that is a red flag. Bottles should never be propped – it is a choking hazard.)
  • Do you believe in feeding on a schedule, or will you give bottles as the baby wants them (“on demand”)?
  • What kinds of foods and snacks do you prepare for children who eat solid foods? (Determine if the provider believes in serving whole, unprocessed foods, limited HFCS/sugar/artificial colors, etc.)
  • Are children expected to finish all of their meals/snacks? (Are children forced to eat or does the caregiver trust the children’s own hunger signals?)

2. Respond with Sensitivity

Your child will need to have a relationship based on trust and empathy with her caregiver, just as she will with her parents.

  • How do you respond when an infant/toddler/child cries?
  • How do you respond to children who are having a strong emotional reaction (a temper tantrum)?
  • What do you do with babies when they are awake? (In other words, how long are infants kept in their cribs versus how long they are interacted with by caregivers and other children?)

3. Use Nurturing Touch

There are opportunities to meet a child’s need for a compassionate and nurturing touch, even in situations where a caregiver is responsible for multiple children.

  • Would you be willing to try wearing my infant in a carrier?
  • How often are infants in your care in swings, jumpers, walkers, or similar devices?

4. Ensure Safe Sleep

  • How do you get children in your care to sleep?
  • Do you believe it is ever appropriate to let a child cry himself to sleep?

5. Provide Consistent and Loving Care

  • Do you mold your schedule to the children in your care, or do you expect the children to fit themselves to your schedule?
  • What positive steps do you take to foster a secure attachment to the children you care for?

6. Practice Positive Discipline

  • How do you help children learn appropriate behaviors? (Look for caregivers who model appropriate behavior, treat children like individuals, stay away from any harsh discipline technique, do not rely on time-out as a cure-all, etc.)

7. Health and Wellness

Many people who practice natural parenting will want to ask questions such as:

  • Do you require children in your care to be vaccinated?
  • Do you know how to properly care for an intact penis?Are you comfortable using cloth diapers?
  • Do you require children to be out of diapers by a certain age?
  • Do you let the children watch television? If so, what shows/channels and how much?
  • How much time do you spend outside every day?
  • Do you recycle? Do you encourage the children to help?

What other questions should AP/natural-minded parents ask potential caregivers? What were your “AP priorities” when choosing a childcare provider?

Photo Credit: clix


This post has been edited from the original version I wrote and published at API Speaks.

53 Responses to:
"Finding an AP-Friendly Caregiver"

  1. Gina

    I think that leaving your child with someone else to raise is, in and of itself, un-attachment parenting. Why force a caregiver to do what you aren’t willing to do yourself?

    • Respectfully, I feel that it’s a bit presumptive to use the phrase “aren’t willing” toward any parent who is leaving their child in the care of another. That’s a very broad, sweeping statement to make. Certainly it is the ideal for attachment parenting to be practiced by the child’s own loving parents. But that ideal is not always the reality for some parents. What about single mothers? Or families that are suddenly thrust into the perils of significant financial difficulties? Should the AP parent whose circumstances necessitate having childchare have to sacrifice gentle and loving care-giving?

      We can’t assume that just b/c a parent is leaving their child with a sitter that they are “unwilling” to care for the child themselves.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      I have known many parents that work due to various circumstances, and they are still fully and securely attached to their little ones. We simply cannot assume that a parent who goes back to work is not “willing” to care for his/her child. That’s not a fair assumption.
      I’ve read from Dr. Sears that AP principles are tools for connecting – and in those tools, there is nothing that disqualifies you from being AP if you return to work. Parents can use the AP philosophy to connect with their little ones anytime – before/after work, at lunch breaks, on their days off. Babies can still have secure attachments with working parents.
      I hope that you can connect with some loving, attached, working parents, so that you can empathize with people who may be in different situations than yours.

    • Jen

      I know a few moms who stay home with their children. Both families have their children watch 6 hours of TV a day, are rarely interacted with. My opinion is: those children would be better off in a AP caregiver’s care during the day. Being home with your children in no way means they are being cared for in a better way.

    • Ashley   ashleympoland

      Had I the choice when my son was 6 weeks old, you can bet that I would have stayed home with him every second of every day — but even the most dedicated attachment parents (of which I am not; medium, really) may not be living in the best of circumstances for being able to stay home.

      Further more, some parents simply do not feel comfortable staying at home. They can still ascribe to all the tenants of attachment parenting, but need that release of having work in their lives — that does not making them not “willing,” but doing the best for their mental health and needs, so that they will be the best parents possible when they are home.

      Work is a fact of our daily lives, no matter what our parenting style is. It’s not about “not being willing” to raise a child, but finding someone who can care for your child almost as well as you would.

      We were lucky in that my son’s godmother was working at home, and was able to watch my son; later my sister lived with us and was able to help out as well. Did they agree with all my decisions regarding my child? No, but they did respect them, and I think that matters most of all.

    • the grumbles   thegrumbles

      our family practices many things that i would consider “attachment parenting” and yes, we both work outside the home and use a pro-AP babysitter who treats our son with care and respect.

      here’s my perspective on it:
      1. since i choose to work i use a caregiver who shares similar parenting beliefs as myself. that way the transition between home and daytime is as consistent as possible.
      2. we don’t “force” our caregiver to do things our way. she shares a similar child-rearing philosophy, which is exactly why we chose her. it was a good fit for both of us.
      3. AP and the associated practices are important to me because we want to be as responsive to our child as possible. since i can’t be there all day long it’s even more important that we connect while we are together. it helps ground us as a family unit.

      in my eyes adding another loving stable person who is able to meet my child’s needs can only be a good thing. the more love a child has around them the better! i choose to focus on the experiences that he is able to get through childcare (social interaction, peer learning, new experiences, more love, etc.) rather than on what it may lack.

      and thanks for the awesome helping of judgment!

    • I think you accusing someone “unwilling” to care for their child because they work is appalling. Did you ever think they are working to put food on the table and I don’t know maybe pay the bills! I am a stay at home mother of three with one on the way, and I count my blessing each and everyday that I am able to do this knowing it isn’t an option for everyone out there. I give working Mothers (and Fathers) so much credit. It has to be such a draining day getting up getting baby and other kids up and fed getting out the door working your butt off picking everyone back up getting home cooking spending time whooooshhh just typing it makes me tired. I think it was absolutely awesome for an AP parent to look for a caregiver who will abide by those practices! Also just because you stay home does not mean you interact with your children, so many are left to rot in front of the TV by Mom and Dad too. Loving and caring “attached” families come from all different situations! Happy Holidays!

  2. Erin   9Davids

    Gina – there are a number of very good reasons that mothers work. Single mothers often have no choice, as well as mothers whose husbands don’t make enough to sustain the family. Or, mothers like me, who aren’t happy at home but turn into miserable whackos who clean the crystal at 2am.

    Attachment parenting means so much more than just staying home. If you are able to find a care giver who practices AP principles and will be semi-permanent in your child’s life, there is no reason it has to be counter to AP philosophy. In my case, my husband is a student and SAHD, and while I’m at work, my son is either with Daddy or with his crunchy-hippie-babywearing-reiki-master Grammy. He’s a lucky boy!

    Code Name Mama – I would definitely add that family caregivers have a substantial advantage in that, if your child does get “attached” (as they should), family doesn’t quit and go away. If you can get it, family and long-time friends definitely have that advantage.

  3. Kacie

    Well, I work full time and very much believe that I practice AP. I am slightly hurt by the comment “what you yourself are not willing to do.” For me, I do not have a choice. I have to work to pay the bills and help provide a home to live …in. I am very sensitive about this issue and I actually do not follow many pages such as this one because of close minded comments like this one. (I am trying to be respectful.)

    Here is how I believe I still practice AP (my opinion only):
    1. I have continued and will continue to breastfeed. I give up time and other things to pump twice a day every day in addtion to coming home on my lunch break every single day to nurse her.
    2. I babywear my 8 month old much of the time that I am not working unless she wants to play on the floor with me. I forego the stroller, etc when out shoppping.
    3. We co-sleep part time (full time just doesnt work for her even though we have tried).
    4. I take baths with her and we have lots of skin to skin contact and have had since she was born.
    5. My mom watches my daughter while we are at work and she practices AP as well. My husband watches her and practices the same things that I do.
    6. We do not let her cry it out.
    7. We try to spend a lot of quality time with her (avoiding exersaucers, walkers, etc) and we play with her.

  4. Isabel North

    “Leaving your child with someone else to raise”? Every heard of the term it takes a village to raise a child. I don’t think that going back to work while your child is left with a caregiver is about willingness. For some families, it’s a necessity. What does this say for all the single mothers out there? I think that as women and mothers, we should support each other rather than judge each other; you don’t know people’s circumstances to take that kind of stance. I myself do work and practice AP. Albeit I work from home, but I have a nanny that comes every day to watch my daughter and when I was interviewing nannies for the job, a requirement was that they believed and practiced AP or else they weren’t even considered. I think this article is very helpful for anyone looking for a caregiver – whether it’s because of an AP mother returning to work or finding someone to watch your child while you run errands or whatnot. So Gina, let me ask you this, does this mean you NEVER leave your children with anyone ever? If so you must be superhuman because the only thing that can come of trying to raise children ALL BY YOURSELF 24/7 is insanity.

  5. Emily @ Crunchy(ish) Mama   crunchyishmama

    I think this post is great! I see nothing wrong with leaving your child on occasion with someone you trust. I like that my son loves and feels like he can depend on other people. I am lucky enough that I don’t need full-time childcare right now, but for some people staying at home isn’t an option. I don’t think that means they can’t be attached parents. APing might need to be tweaked a little for their lives, but I doubt all AP parents do the exact same things anyway. I think this post will be a great resource for a lot of parents. Thanks!

  6. Violetsouffle   Rainbowsouffle

    As an attachment parenting mother myself, and a part time nanny, I think that attachment parenting and being away from your child or leaving him/her with a caregiver can most certainly be done and can be really healthy for children. I’m not ready to leave my daughter in others’ care yet (she’s 2) but I provide excellent, appropriate and gentle nurturing care for the children I nanny whose parents are also attachment parents. We communicate extensively on what we think is an appropriate response/ comfort/ food choice/ etc etc an their children thrive in my care. I would add to this post that an attachment parenting caregiver might at times feel like they’re abandoning the child when they themselves leave as the bond and attachment can extend to them As well, so it’s important to chose someone you want to include in your family.

  7. Kacie

    I want to add to that the word “willing” is a very unfair word to use. I am ABSOLUTELY willing to stay at home with my daughter and practice AP with her 24/7 but unless there is some way for me to have a place to live, eat, bathe, etc without paying my bills, it is just not a possibility for me. I think Gina needs to realize that for many mothers returning to work is extremely painful and support is needed. Not judgment.

  8. Natasha

    I am a nanny and wish I could use more AP methods with the children I work with. However, it is my job to work with children in the ways that their parents request (as long as it doesn’t cross some of my own major boundaries, for example, I won’t spank). When parents specifically ask me to help with a schedule for their child or don’t want me going to their baby after every whimper, I can’t exactly disregard that. It is their child ultimately. It is certainly a delicate balance between my methods and theirs.. but experience with children through nannying has definitely pushed me in the AP direction :) And it has also reinforced my belief that staying home with my children is one of if not the most important thing I can do for them.

  9. Gina

    Jen, I’m sorry you know such awful people! I would have a hard time being friends with parents like that. I agree that all children are best off in an environment which fosters love and attachment ~ if these awful SAH parents you know sent their children off to daycare they would be getting attachment caregiving, just as any child who sees an AP caregiver for more hours/week than they see their parents is getting. And that is fabulous, if that is what a parent chooses.

    There are all sorts of ways to parent and work ~ however I don’t believe that one can effectively claim to actually “AP” their OWN child if they don’t see them but for a few hours a day, especially a child under the age of 2. I’m not talking about what system is best ~ working or staying at home or working part time or what have you. I’m simply pointing out what I see to be an irony in terminology ~ a “full time attachment PARENTING caregiver” is an oxymoron, to me.

    I’m sorry if that opinion is so offensive that the blog author chooses to use it to rile up her readership by putting it out there on Twitter and FB and whatnot. As with most things, if you are secure in your own choices I can’t understand how my feelings on the matter could possibly offend you.

    • Ashley   ashleympoland

      Would “attachment caregiver” be more acceptable?

      The opinion offends because it says to all the women here, who work and do their best to practice attachment parenting, that their efforts somehow don’t count because they’re not there for 4 -10 hours. A parent is a parent, whether they’re there 24 hours a day or 16 hours, and they’re not any less attached for being gone.

      It strikes me as a bit misguided, is all.

      • Gina

        I don’t know why everyone is assuming that I don’t work :) I suppose I am offending myself. Oh, wait, but I’m not because I stand by my choices.

        I don’t honestly know how you can say that a parent is not “any less attached” for being away from their baby 40 or more hours a week. I KNOW that I am. I think that it is illogical to argue otherwise, frankly.

        Becoming a Mother does not mean that we are not allowed to have opinions anymore. And if we “supported” every single thing, how on earth could any of us ever learn or broaden our perspectives? I find it hilarious that because I am willing to state my own opinion I am getting called things like “close minded” and “judgmental” by the blog author and those she is encouraging to comment. Talk about close minded!

        People aren’t allowed to believe that a parent being with their infant is the best thing?

        Okay. But please, please know that many, many people feel this way.

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        When I said “close-minded and judgmental,” I was referring to your original statement: “what you aren’t willing to do yourself”

        Judgmental? Yes. I feel like it was making a judgment about working parents. Why does going back to work mean you aren’t willing to take care of your child? Like others pointed out, maybe you are a single parent or financially strapped.
        Close-minded? It appeared to be, because you were lumping all working parents into one mindset – that of not be “willing” to go back to work.

        But you’re right – my NVC communication guidelines do not promote me making those judgments about your statement. I should have come at it from a different angle than making value statements about your value statement ;)

    • Laura

      I AP and work. My company get 8 hours of my day and my daughter gets twice that. I’m not sure why you would come on to an AP blog and post something so inflammatory. Or perhaps you were offering to make up every reader’s lost income so we could stay home with them? ;)

      • Gina

        Depends. How much do you make? ;)

        I’m an AP parent, that is why. And I’m also not able to pretend that every single parenting choice is sparkly magical perfect kumbaya and all. Being away from one’s small babies (like the sub 2 set) on a full time 40+ hour basis is not ideal for attachment parenting. It is HARD! And as such, it should get a lot of credit! But that does not mean that I believe that it is actually what is BEST for babies, for mothers, or for families.

        If you are inflamed by that personal opinion from a stranger, it is 100% your choice.

      • Kacie


        I understand and agree that maybe being away from your baby is not 100% ideal for attachment parenting. I think the reason the original post seemed hurtful was because it seemed to imply that I am not “willing” to stay home to practice AP all of the time. I guess every parent is different and we all just have to do the best we can with our current situation.

    • Dionna   CodeNameMama

      Gina, I’m not trying to “rile up my readership” by asking people to “gently and respectfully” share with you why a parent can work and still practice AP. Really. Go read the FB update and Tweet on the subject – I asked people to share respectfully. And if anyone came on here and posted something disrespectful, I’d edit or delete the comment. One of the great things about commenting on blogs is having respectful conversations about things – I assume that is what you were doing by putting your comment out there. And FWIW, many of the people who have commented haven’t sounded like they took offense to your comment – they are simply sharing their own opinions.

      I noticed that you added on “full time” to your definition of AP – but I simply don’t agree that one must be a full time care-giving parent to be an attachment parent. Parents who work can still practice attachment principles in the time that they are with their children. It’s kind of like the way many people practice SOME of the AP principles, and choose not to practice others. Maybe cosleeping doesn’t work for their families. Are they any less AP because their child is in a crib 2 doors down? Maybe a mother is low supply, can she not be in the AP club because she gave her child formula?

      Attachment parenting is a philosophy that families mold to their circumstances. Having an all-or-nothing definition doesn’t make sense, because we are all such different people.

    • Ashley   ashleympoland

      (I can’t seem to reply later down in the thread; sorry about the out of order thing.)

      I suppose we have to agree to disagree; I do not think that being attached means being there all the time — and just as you stand by your choices (which is good) I am standing behind this opinion.

      We can be supportive and still educate; broadening our horizons does not have to be wrapped up in disagreement or judgment. A parent being with their infant is a good thing; it’s just not the only thing.

  10. Maman A Droit   MamanADroit

    I think it’s a trade-off: clearly leaving your child with someone else means you lose out on time you could be spending bonding with them and nurturing them. But for many families it’s worth it, because that loss of time means they can afford shelter & food for their family, while being a SAHM might mean there’s no home for mom to stay at!

    We knew from the beginning of our marriage our goal was for me to be a SAHM, so we saved tons of money, didn’t eat out hardly ever, only had one car, & literally lived in the ghetto (we only heard gun shots a few times), wore clearance clothes from Target, etc. But I know that even with living extremely modestly, there are some moms who just have to work.

    The sad thing to me is that most of the moms who actually HAVE to work probably don’t have the luxury of shopping around for the *best* caretaker, but pretty much have to put their kids wherever is cheapest, even if that means propped bottles & all day in a swing in front of the TV.

  11. Kacie

    Once again, I think all mothers (whether working or staying at home) need support. For me, I wish I could have understood what it meant to love a child before I made the decisions to take out massive student loans to get a law degree. I may not have made any different decisions but for me, I am in a situation now that I have to work and I do have some rewarding days where I feel like I made a difference in the world around me. At this point, I have learned to offer gentle support to all mothers around me whether or not they parent exactly the way I do.

  12. B

    I think Gina’s wording was unfortunate and presumptuous. I appreciate all of the gentle corrections and examples others have offered.
    As a now stay-at-home mom of two, who previously worked to supplement household income, there a few thoughts I would like to add. One is how frustrating it is to me, and presumptuous it seems of certain people, when I’m told how lucky I am and how blessed to be able to stay home. It’s not that I disagree with those statements, it’s the people that they often come from. People who could make the same financial “sacrifices,” tighten their budgets, and simplify and/or change their life style the way we did. They could give up the skiing trips and expensive vacations, not go to the movies or eat out so often, give up the wine, clothes, brand new outdoor or other hobby equipment, etc. What they are calling for me a blessing, could be theirs as well. We don’t have a whole lot of “extra money.” There are many things we’d like to do someday, that aren’t in the budget right now. Right now, we made the decision that it was more important for me to be home. I’ve done some childcare to supplement income, and we’ve rented out a room in our home for a few months at a time over the past two years.
    I realize that’s not true for everyone, and if you’re one of those people for whom working outside your home is a must if you want to pay bills and eat, I want you to know that I do not judge you for that. I’m proud of you for keeping your families safe and fed, for being present for your children when and how you can. I think that consciously choosing an AP caregiver is absolutely the best thing you can do for your child if you aren’t, for whatever your reasons are, going to be with them during those hours.

    • Ashley   ashleympoland

      I think the acceptable level of comfort for all families is very different; what seems superfluous to one (expensive clothes is one of those things that makes me go o_O;) may be absolutely essential to another.

      I don’t like when people tell me I’m lucky because I work at home — because there are nights that I have to stay up until 4AM to get enough work done to bring in enough money, and then get up in the morning when my husband leaves for work. It’s not easy, and honestly — I miss the ease of a steady paycheck and regular hours. Unfortunately, child care is not a possibility on what we make, so working at home it is.

      Staying home with kids is not easy; it can be more fun and more comfortable than leaving for work each day.

  13. B

    I would also encourage single parents to consider joining forces (and households) with other single parents or even a two parent households who practice AP. One of our housemates, a single AP mom of two, who we “rescued” from going to a shelter, is now one of my dearest friends. We share-nursed our youngest two, and both of my children are extremely attached to her. She no longer lives with us, but when I do leave my children with someone, she and my mom are my first choice. I love it that my children have this woman in their life, who they feel so close to and comfortable with. Even married, stay-at-home moms need to have that kind of support. Even if you’re not going to work, I find it comforting to know I have someone I truly trust with my children, should I want or need to be away from them at some point.

  14. Gina,

    You said “People aren’t allowed to believe that a parent being with their infant is the best thing?” and yes you are allowed to believe that. I believe that as well. Even though I’m a working mother I truly wish it was me at home with my daughter day in and day out. No one here is attacking your opinion on this matter.

    However, you also said “I don’t honestly know how you can say that a parent is not “any less attached” for being away from their baby 40 or more hours a week.” And this statement shows a lack of understanding about the science of attachment. Attachment is about responsiveness and quality of time spent – NOT quantity. As a result a non-responsive or low-responsive parent can be home all day with her child and be LESS attached than a busy working mother who uses attachment behaviors and high-responsiveness with her child when she is home. So, the commenters here, if I may guess at their intention, are not disagreeing with your opinion on staying home being better but are disagreeing with your faulty logic in saying, “however I don’t believe that one can effectively claim to actually “AP” their OWN child if they don’t see them but for a few hours a day.”

    For example. Imagine a child with a SAHM that (like Jen said) lets the child watch TV all day, props up a bottle to feed them and then lets them cry it out in their crib that night. Now imagine my child who is watched by someone besides me while I work all day. When I get home we instantly nurse, we play together, we take a bath together, and then all night she sleeps next to me and nurses several times since she refrained from eating during the day in order to get “mommy time” at night (they call this reverse cycling). She never cries in the night because I’m right there. She doesn’t cry when I leave for work because she is sure I’ll come back. She is as attached as any child parented in a similar way – with quality interaction NOT quantity.

    • Kacie

      Well said Paige. That is what I was trying to say. ;)

    • Gina

      You are apple and oranging my argument.

      I’m not comparing a non AP mother to an AP mother and stating that all quantity trumps all quality. I’m comparing ANY mother (Crappy or fabulous) who is away from their child 40 hours a week (in my example) to the same mother (crappy or fabulous) NOT being away from their child 40 some hours a week. Some working parents are way more attached to their children than some who stay home ~ heck, people put kids in cages and do all sorts of mean nasty things to them. Clearly they are not attached parents, whether they work or stay home. Like, say your child took a bath and ate dinner and slept next to you and also spent all day with you ~ would you say that you could possibly be “more” attached than you are now, with more limited interaction/awake time? I say yes, that’s all.

      I suppose I’m asking this. Would YOU, general commenter on this thread, feel MORE attached to YOUR young child were you with them more?

      • Hmmm, you seem to be confusing Attachment Parenting and Attachment. Attachment Parenting is a set of tools and skills designed to ensure your child will be securely attached. I believe that these tools work and thus I am an “attachment parent”

        The whole point though is the science of attachment. There are four types of attachment: Secure, Anxious-resistant, Anxious-avoidant, and Disorganized. It is much less a sliding scale than you are stating. It isn’t a matter of “my kids is more attached than yours” but simply does my child have a secure attachment since this type of attachment is associated with great cognitive and emotional maturity and general life satisfaction (and can easily work through the stages of emotional development in the research of Larry Brentro, Martin Brokenleg and Steve Van Brockern. You can read more and see some charts here:

        Also, note that attachment has nothing to do with how I, as the parent, FEELS. Of course I wish I were with her 24/7! I ache when I leave her but that has nothing to do with whether she will form a secure attachment and strong foundation for her life.

        Can a SAH mom be “more AP”? Perhaps by sheer number of hours babywearing, cloth diapering, and generally being a hippie (:)) but it does not translate into a more attached child. If you rated my “AP-ness”, aka how much I did x number of attachment parenting tools, I might lag behind a SAHM. However, that has no effect on the level of attachment my child has.

      • Dionna   CodeNameMama

        Paige – what an excellent way to put it, thank you for sharing!!

  15. Chris @ Absolutely Adequate   absoadequate

    It’s absurd to assume that because a mother works fulltime she’s not practicing AP philosophies. And following that logic does that mean that working fathers are not attached to their children?

    I returned to work FT out of necessity 4 months after my daughter was born. The housing market crashed, my H is a mortgage broker – it was either work or suffer a nervous breakdown worrying whether or not our home would be foreclosed upon. But don’t worry, my daughter took attachment seriously and started sleeping more during the day and reverse cycling. She’s a delightful, confident, sercure almost 3 year old now. There’s no question that she is thriving and has a healthy attachment to her family and her caregiver.

    I’ve since had another baby and still WOTH on a part time basis. Both of my children are amazing little people and I am overjoyed with the “extra” days I have at home with them. I don’t take our time together for granted and I appreciate every single minute of every single day that I have with my family. I have more balance in my life (hey! That’s a tenent of AP that many, many families struggle with) and my professional skills are staying current in a job market that is dwindling. Sure, there are good days and bad days but I have no doubt that we are doing what’s best for our family. It doesn’t sound like it would be the right choice for you, Gina. And that’s okay! The important thing is that everyone’s needs are being met. If staying at home full time (assuming that’s what you do) is meeting everyone’s needs in your family then kudos to you.

  16. Chris @ Absolutely Adequate   absoadequate

    Paige beat me to it too. And was much, much more eloquent.


  17. Holly

    What a horrorifying (to me anyway) and yet informative post about AP friendly caregivers. To be honest that is why I have not been away from my daughter except when watched by two people-my husband and my SIL (who actually cares for my daugther while I work). I have been so scared of others not respecting my AP type of parenting that I didn’t want to risk it. That may make me seem controlling but I prefer to err on the side of caution. Thanks Dionna for the questions to use. I definitely will keep this post for future reference. I really appreciate you sharing all your experiences, widsom, and BTDT advice (along with other mommies). :)

  18. Gina

    @ Paige, my point is that if you are doing less parenting, you are (by definition) doing less attachment parenting. And I think that the reasons that many of us ACHE when we have to be away from our very young children is because we know on a very, very basic level that we are meant to be with those babies.

    I guess I don’t really have much else I can add :)

    • Ah ok. I see what you are saying. You are talking specifically about attachment parenting tools. I guess if the quest is for “doing attachment parenting” then I agree with you. A mom that stays home gets in more hours of “attachment parenting” than I ever will.

      Luckily I’m not in a race to be The Most APiest Mama Ever but simply to raise a securely attached child. I can certainly do that as good as anyone else while I work outside the home.

      • Gina

        Okay, if that is what you get from my comments, have at it :) Yep, I’m trying to prove myself APMOMMYWINNER because I have a different opinion than you.

        If you believe that AP’ing is good and the implementation of AP’ing tools fosters healthy and secure children, then (unless you are defensive) it would seem clear that the MORE time you spend with your OWN child sharing the principals of AP’ing, the better for you and for your child. Clearly we disagree on that point, which is fine, of course.

      • I think John Bowlby disagrees with you as well. Since quantity of time is not a correlative factor in attachment formation.

  19. Elena Burlington

    I support your comments. There are other mothers out there who share the same beliefs. Good on you for doing what is best for your child.

  20. Donelle

    Going back to the ORIGINAL post by Gina and in regards to the actual blog post.
    It is clearly titled FINDING an AP Friendly Care-giver. Not “Forcing your caregiver into AP.” And obviously these women are “willing to do it” themselves, they just need someone else to provide a loving and similar environment for their children while they are out trying to keep a roof over the family’s head and food on the table.
    I work 45 hrs per week and I found a great provider that is loving and has similar views as I do. I do what I can to keep that bond with my little one and be the best mommy I can be and I think that most of the mothers reading this, including Gina, do the same. I am glad Gina stated her opinion. I have often wondered how on earth I could try to AP being away from my little one as much as I am. And because of her comment and the comments defending working moms, it made me more confident that I am doing just fine. I am away from my kids more than I am with them, really, if you go by waking hours, but I feel like I am closer to my kids than many parents are.

  21. Gina

    John is as entitled to his theory as I am to mine, of course. Luckily mine is working wonderfully with my three children. I hope the same for John and his family, and you and yours.

  22. Lacey Jane   LaceyJane

    I have been a nanny for a few different families, and will only do so if the parent has a more natural approach to parenting. I will not put a child in time out (even if the parents do), I would never let a baby cry it out (especially if it was a young baby), and I follow the golden rule with every human, despite their age or abilities. These questions are a great way to find out how your caregiver will spend time with your children. Great post!

  23. mona

    Gina, I get what you are saying. I was planning to write more, but I’ll have to leave it at that- my little one just woke up!

  24. Rachael   RachaelNevins

    Dionna, thank you for this list of questions! So helpful!

    And, for what it’s worth, unlike the other great apes, humans are cooperative breeders, and current attachment theorists are exploring the contributions of alloparents (caregivers other than the parents) to the well-being of infants and children. According to feminist evolutionary theorist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, dependence on alloparental care may even have been one of the critical factors in the development of empathy as a human characteristic.

  25. Isabel North

    At the end of the day Gina, I think it comes down to poor word choice in your original post that offended many, including myself. Yes, you are entitled to your opinion but it’s only fair for you to acknowledge that saying “Why force a caregiver to do what you aren’t willing to do yourself?” is presumptuous of a working mother’s situation and therefore offensive. And at the end of the day, AP is about being compassionate, caring, empathetic and responsive to your child’s needs. Those are characteristics that need to come within us as a PERSON as well as a parent; they are not mutually exclusive. So I encourage you that as an AP parent, you channel those qualities within you to be a bit more understanding of all those parents out there who are working and trying to do the best for their child at the same time.

    • Emily @ Crunchy(ish) Mama   crunchyishmama

      I agree with Isabel. I think I understand what Gina is saying about quantity of time spent attachment parenting, but it was really poor word choice with the “aren’t willing to do yourself” thing.

      I would not win the APiest Mommy award anyway. Not only do I work part-time, but I also have occasional mommy breaks that involve cleaning, bathing, reading or writing with out baby. I stayed home the first year of little one’s life, but then started working outside the home again. I use to feel guilty about it, but I try not to anymore. I know it makes me a better mama when I’m not stressed out.

      I said it before, I love that my son know that other people love him and are capable of caring for him. He adores his daddy, grandmas, aunt and nursery teacher. He has the least seperation anxiety of any one-year-old I’ve ever seen. Different things work for different families.

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