Attachment Parenting Controversy

Why Breastfeeding, Baby Wearing & Co-Sleeping are Misunderstood

Attachment parenting is a parenting philosophy that is soaring in popularity. Still, there are many traditional or mainstream parents who do not understand the movement.

Most people are familiar with the key components of attachment parenting; breastfeeding, babywearing and co-sleeping. It is no longer unusual to see a baby being worn in a sling or breastfed in public. Unfortunately, it is also not unusual that discussion of these three practices can lead to controversy. Openly practicing these parenting methods can even result in criticism and ridicule from strangers.


Many new mothers start out breastfeeding their newborn infants. After the first month or two, bottles of formula and solid foods slowly start to replace breastfeeding sessions, until, by six months of age, less than half of all U.S. infants are breastfed exclusively.

Why is Breastfeeding Controversial?

While breastfeeding itself is not controversial, extended breastfeeding beyond six months is, despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for up to one year.

  • Many new grandmothers are not familiar with breastfeeding and cannot advise their daughters and daughters-in-law on breastfeeding issues. They typically pass on advice that involves introducing bottles too early, as well as introducing solid foods too early. Both of these can hinder a breastfeeding relationship.
  • Breasts are sexualized in our society. Unfortunately, this leads many to think breastfeeding beyond the first six months is perverse.

Baby Wearing

The attached parents firmly believe that a baby needs to be held as often as possible. According to Dr. William Sears, a pediatrician, author, and father of eight children, the benefits of babywearing are extensive. Babies that are worn cry less, are more secure, more organized and learn more.

Why is Baby Wearing Controversial?

  • It is still typical for many to think that a baby that is held often will be spoiled.
  • New parents get the message from their family and friends that they need to teach their infant to be independent and give him the opportunity to learn how to self soothe.
  • Even strangers in public will advise the mother that she will spoil her baby if she doesn’t put him down.


Many new mothers, especially those who breastfeed, will testify that safe co-sleeping is the only way for both mother and baby to get any sleep. Co-sleeping mothers claim to be very aware of their infant’s needs.

Why is Co-Sleeping Controversial?

  • Co-sleeping gets a bad reputation in the media. Fueled by the rare stories of mothers who have rolled over on their babies while sleeping, most people who are against co-sleeping claim to be concerned about a baby’s safety.
  • Others feel it is traditional for a baby to sleep in a crib in his own room so that he can learn how to be an independent sleeper. Upon finding out that someone they know co-sleeps, a comment is often made that the child will be sleeping with his parents when he is twenty.


  1. Kellymom Breastfeeding and Parenting website, Ross Labs Breastfeeding Statistics
  2. Dr. William Sears: Ask Dr. Sears website