Attachment Parenting vs Gentle Parenting

I wrote in this post about the future of my blog that I wanted to write more about our parenting style so here goes!


When I got pregnant for the first time I was given a whole bunch of books from various people and one of them detailed a daily schedule, almost to the minute (something about being contented, I’m sure you know the one!). I read this naively thinking that this was how parenting is done, and cringing of the idea of getting baby up at a certain time and making it nap at a certain time, what if it didn’t want to? Not long after we arrived home from the hospital with a brand new baby I realised not only that babies do not fit into a schedule but that I didn’t WANT to parent to a schedule. So the book went out the window (not literally!) and we just got on with being parents they way we felt things worked for us. It was a good few months later that I came across the term ‘attachment parenting’.

Attachment parenting is based on 8 principles as devised by Dr Sears, although he makes it clear that they are not to be used a checklist but rather a guide.

Prepare for pregnancy, childbirth and parenting.

Feed with love and respect.

Respond with sensitivity.

Provide nurturing touch.

Ensure safe sleep.

Use consistent and loving care.

Practice positive discipline.

Strive for personal and family balance.

To read more about each of the principles read this page, but the basis is this:

The essence of Attachment Parenting is about forming and nurturing strong connections between parents and their children. Attachment Parenting challenges us as parents to treat our children with kindness, respect and dignity, and to model in our interactions with them the way we’d like them to interact with others. 


Then there is Gentle Parening,

The websites definition is:

Gentle Parenting is parenting with empathy, respect, understanding and boundaries.

Is there a difference? No not really, Gentle Parenting isn’t a set of principles though, rather it is something to keep at the back of your mind and a way of being.

When I first realised we were ‘attachement’ parents I spent a lot of time looking it up, trying to commit the principles to memory (I saw them as rules almost) and suddenly I thought of that ridiculous baby regime book, and although Dr Sears principles are for guidance I much prefer the Gentle Parenting mindset and when I read the excerpt below I felt a lot better:

There are no rules to follow, no ‘how to’ lists and no exclusions.

It doesn’t matter if you bottle feed, give birth by elective C-Section, use a buggy and your child sleeps in a cot in their own room. Just as it doesn’t make you a ‘gentle parent’ if you breastfeed until 3 years, homebirth, babywear and bedshare. These ‘tools’ are irrelevant, they don’t define the conscious actions and thoughts behind your parenting… It is not new, it is not trendy. Gentle parents come from all walks of life, all ages, all ethnicities and most don’t even realise that their style of parenting would fall under this banner, it’s just the way they have always been. [from this page]

Gentle parenting isn’t all stroking your kids head, wrapping them in cotton wool and never losing your shit. If it was then I definitely couldn’t call myself one because I DO lose my shit, I’m human after all and parenting is HARD at the best of times! But when I do I don’t bellow at my kid, I take a deep breath and count to ten, leaving the room to scream if I need to, it’s normal and it’s okay! I then have a slightly clearer head to go back and try and deal with the situation in a way that makes everyone understand it.

Now firstly let me say I am loathe to put a label on anything (hence the random unopened for weeks tupperware container in the fridge that’s started to omit a bad smell…) let alone something as all encompassing as my ‘parenting style’ but if someone held a gun to my head I’d say that Sam and I fall into this Gentle category. Although really, we’re just parents doing things the way we feel is best for our children. I don’t judge anyone for their parenting style at all, but we’ve fallen into our way of parenting and it works for us.

When we became parents we knew we had to nurture these tiny human beings, in a way that would help to shape their ‘now’ and just as importantly, their future.

I plan to write about specific times  or areas of behaviour and learning and how we go about dealing with them. I might talk to other parents about their experiences, and maybe even get a few guest bloggers down the line too. I’m hoping that writing about how we do things will help us, and maybe even someone else reading too!

4 thoughts on “Attachment Parenting vs Gentle Parenting

  1. Love this post.

    You’re given all the advice in the world when you become a parent, and like you I was given advice about routine routine routine. Although I know that the advice given is given as kind advice, but not all babies are the same – and I think that’s what people forget.

    I’m quite lucky that T has fallen into his own routine when it comes to bedtime, but he did that himself! During the day, however, it’s different. He totally decides when he naps and when he wants to feed. Whether it’s for 5, 10, 20 minutes, I’m going to let him lead. I can’t expect him to leave my warm belly where food was on tap and the environment was warm, and be happy with it all the time.

    I’m definitely in the same category and I’m happy with this. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with other ways, it just doesn’t work for my baby.

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