The Vaginal Mystique

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This week is the 50th anniversary of the publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique, widely credited with being one of the most influential books of the 20th Century.

As The New York Times explains:

That phrase, of course, became famous when “The Feminine Mystique” was published, 50 years ago on Tuesday, to wide acclaim and huge sales, and it remains enduring shorthand for the suffocating vision of domestic goddess-hood Friedan is credited with helping demolish.

But that suffocating vision of domestic goddess-hood was a lot harder to kill than most of us ever imagined. In fact, it still exists, although it goes by a new name: attachment parenting.

Attachment parenting, the currently dominant parenting ideology, is just the feminine mystique writ large. In the 1950’s, the “good” mother was obsessed with various irrelevant measures of her value, like having the whitest wash or the cleanest floor. In the 2010’s, the “good” mother is obsessed with enduring the longest labor without pain relief, never putting her child down and never letting her children cry.

Wikipedia has an excellent synopsis of The Feminine Mystique and several chapters have particular relevance to this modern day incarnation of domestic goddess-hood.

Chapter 9: Friedan shows that advertisers tried to encourage housewives to think of themselves as professionals who needed many specialized products in order to do their jobs, while discouraging housewives from having actual careers, since that would mean they would not spend as much time and effort on housework and therefore would not buy as many household products, cutting into advertisers’ profits.

Chapter 10: Friedan interviews several full-time housewives, finding that although they are not fulfilled by their housework, they are all extremely busy with it. She postulates that these women unconsciously stretch their home duties to fill the time available, because the feminine mystique has taught women that this is their role, and if they ever complete their tasks they will become unneeded.

The attachment parenting industry, comprised of childbirth educators, doulas, midwives, lactation consultants, parenting advisors, sling manufacturers, etc. encourage mothers to think of themselves as needing many specialized services and products in order to be “good” mothers, while discouraging them from having actual careers, which would interfere with their ability to consume the services and goods offered by the attachment parenting industry.

Moreover, the attachment parenting industry insists on practices that fill 24 hours in each and every day, from extended breastfeeding, to constantly carrying young children, to letting them sleep in the parental bed on a regular basis. Attachment parenting has insisted that this is women’s role and if they ever complete these tasks, which used to be confined to infancy and toddlerhood, they will become unneeded.

Attachment parenting is obsessed with the mother’s body, emphasizing the vaginal mystique, the breast mystique and the mystique of the mother’s arms. As philosopher Rebecca Kukla has observed, attachment parenting fetishizes proximity, insisting that the mother’s body must always be in contact with the child’s body, making it impossible for her to accomplish anything in the larger world, effectively confining her to the home.

If anything, the philosophy of attachment parenting is even more restrictive than the 1950’s view of mothering. At least back then, women owned their own bodies. The 1950’s emphasis was on the perfect home and lifestyle; the contemporary emphasis is on the maternal body that performs perfectly (“It’s what women are designed to do.”), ignores even severe pain like labor pain (“It’s good pain.”) or insists that women brought their pain on themselves (“If only you didn’t fear birth …” “If only you were breastfeeding correctly …”).

The philosophy of attachment parenting requires more than goods; it requires services, expensive services. The feminine mystique required purchasing the best laundry detergent and floor wax. The vaginal mystique requires a small army of service providers — childbirth educators, doulas, midwives, and lactation consultants — who charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars for their services. The products of the feminine mystique were economically within reach of even the poorest women. The products of the vaginal mystique are so expensive that women are actually publicly soliciting money to finance things like homebirth.

Make no mistake: attachment parenting and the vaginal mystique are every bit as suffocating and retrograde as the feminine mystique. Whether or not a child is born vaginally is no more important than whether or not your laundry is the whitest in the neighborhood. Neither makes any difference to the well-being of children. They are artificial conceptions of motherhood that serve the needs of everyone but mothers and children.

  • stephanwhite

    Could be. But that’s a far cry from Dr. Sears’ claim that children who are
    ‘worn’ (along with his other prescriptions for parenthood) are immune to
    becoming schoolyard bullies.


    Media Monitoring

  • Dr Kitty

    Somewhat germane, but a little OT.

    Super crunchy and religious people often like to cite BF as being a great contraceptive.

    Which it is.
    For six months.
    If you have no periods.
    And you pump or express every 4-6 hours, EVERY 4-6 hours, for that entire six month period.

    So, if your 5 month old is sleeping for more than 6 hrs every night, tough, you either have to wake and feed them, or wake and pump. Romantic.

    Personally, I wasn’t going to give up those few blissful hours of sleep, and opted for additional methods.

    Other women have forgotten the strict criteria for LAM and ended up pregnant.

    • Dr Kitty

      Sorry “pump or express” should be “pump or feed”.
      Basically you can ‘t go longer than 6 hours without emptying your breasts, not even once, if you want to rely on LAM, which is hugely inconvenient once you get beyond the newborn “feeding non stop” stage.
      And it definitely means that dad giving a bottle of expressed milk in the middle of the night so you can sleep is right out.

    • An Actual Attorney

      And not foolproof even then — I know the cutie patootie to prove it

      • Dr Kitty

        98% effective if all criteria met, so 1 in 50 failure rate.
        Not good enough for me to be comfortable with at any rate.

        • me

          Are you comfortable with the Pill?

          • disqus_61tNDsHTqn

            My husband and my friend’s kid were conceived on the pill. – S

          • me

            That’s true, I was just asking because the pill, when used correctly is about 96-99% effective. Typical use results in an effectiveness rate close to 90%. Nothing is foolproof and everything should be used cautiously and with the awareness that any “mistakes” in applying whatever method chosen result in drops in effectiveness.

          • S

            Interesting. I was wondering, after your post, how many of the pill-related failures are due to compliance issues or medication interactions that could’ve been prevented.

          • Therese

            Yeah, there is definitely a double standard. Use LAM and everyone feels like they need to make sure you know pregnancy is still a possibility. Yet use the pill and no one ever says “You know you can still get pregnant on the pill, right?” Even though they are both similarly effective. (I guess the difference is the pill is a lot more idiot-proof than following the rules of LAM.)

    • Jessica

      I’d actually heard that pumping doesn’t count, and baby can’t use a pacifier. Basically, baby can’t use an artificial nipple to meet its nutritional or sucking needs.

      Thank God for Mirena, is all I can say.

  • Amy

    I’m reposting this so it will be up top, because I really am interested in a real answer:

    Regarding: “Breastfeeding is only free if a woman’s time is worth nothing.”

    My biggest problem with the whole quote in the first place…is where does it belong in polite conversation? When would you ever say it to someone other than to snark on people who say breastfeeding is free? Other than some super crazies, I don’t think anyone every tries to insinuate that someone should quit their job solely to BF their child, or that they should continue to breastfeed despite half their nipples falling off or something.

    I just don’t know what context it could be used in, other than as an insult.

    The only time the cost of breastfeeding should even be a factor is if someone is either already a SAHM (or planning to SAHM) or if they are salaried and have appropriate facilities to pump and store milk at work. And even in the second scenario, that is only assuming that they are willing to spend the time it takes to pump and clean parts, etc.

    Like someone said before, a SAHM is feeding the baby anyway, so yes, breastfeeding is free for them. Of course there is the opportunity cost of lost wages, but there is also value in feeding your own baby to a lot of people. Opportunity cost is not just measured in dollars.

    And for someone who has the ability to pump at work: If they enjoy being able to breastfeed when they’re with their baby, and that joy gives them the motivation to pump, then good for them. If they are also saving money in the long run by only spending $250 on a decent pump, even better.

    If someone could explain to me the appropriate place in polite conversation for the above quote “bfing is free only if a woman’s time is worth nothing” I would love to hear it.

    Give me a real life example where you would say it, other than to scoff at women who choose to stay home and also breastfeed.

    • suchende

      I think you’ve missed the point. Breastfeeding may still be worth it, but it is NOT FREE.

      • Amy

        My point was that the quote is rude. And I was hoping someone could point out a conversation in which it would not be a rude thing to say to someone.

        • suchende

          I don’t think it’s rude at all. It’s a fact that BFing is not free, not even for SAHMs, who also shouldn’t value their time at zero.

          • Amy

            But it IS free for a SAHM, since she would be feeding the baby either way. So she either pays for formula, or gets it free from the boob. Barring costly issues, obviously that makes it a moot point.

          • suchende

            No one’s time is worth nothing. That’s the conclusion this snappy little line is supposed to lead you to. SAHMs don’t have to take every single feeding with their kiddos. Formula is often faster than BFing even if mom is doing the feeding. I feel sad that so many women think their time is truly worth nothing.

          • KarenJJ

            I suppose if you take it as if you are already breastfeeding then the implication could be that your time is worth nothing because you are ‘wasting’ it breastfeeding. Is that how you are hearing it Amy?

          • S

            Yes, i am still wrapping my head around this and will need to come back and read through everything, but i thought what Sullivan was saying was that AP advocates are the ones assuming a woman’s time is worth nothing.

          • Alenushka

            But SAHM time is not free. Time has value. We as sosiety refuse to provide $$ for care-giving that women do, and this is why being a woman puts us at the highest risk of poverty. If you do not value your time in economic terms, that is your choice but many of us do.

          • fiftyfifty1

            Perhaps what Amy doesn’t understand is that formula feeding takes less time than breastfeeding, even for a SAHM?? Maybe she thinks “Since I’m spending the same amount of time feeding the baby anyway, I might as well feed it something I don’t have to pay cash for (except for the cost of the extra food I consume each day)”?
            Amy perhaps doesn’t understand how soon babies can hold their own bottles/bottle propping/sibs helping/ability to give larger serving and thus feed less often/ and all the other ways that bottle feeding is faster.
            Breastfeeding proponants don’t talk about this. Instead they say it takes *longer* by saying you have to do a bunch of stuff like sterilize bottles or heat the formula. The truth is that you just scoop the powder into the bottle and put in warm tap water for the first few months and after that you can prepare the bottles ahead and they can drink them cold from the fridge.
            If anybody is shocked or tsk-tsking over these facts is a sign of how much our cultural values and expectations have swung toward intensive mothering.

          • On a blog where risk reduction is ostensibly the raison d’etre, but even Dr. Amy admits she doesn’t know how much additional mortality risk is involved in homebirthing, one would think promotion of breastfeeding, where there is a clear benefit in health, development, and reduction of infant mortality (on a scale that far dwarfs that involved with homebirthing), would be a paramount concern.

            And BTW neither your baby nor any member of the family should be drinking water that came from the hot water heater.

          • suchende

            If only the benefit were clear and clinically significant

          • You are wrong. Take it up with the NIH and AAP:

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15121986
            “Overall, children who were ever breastfed had 0.79 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.67-0.93) times the risk of never breastfed children for dying in the postneonatal period. Longer breastfeeding was associated with lower risk.”

            http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/may2004/niehs-02.htm
            “Aimin Chen, MD, Ph.D. and Walter J Rogan, MD (both in the Epidemiology Branch at NIEHS, one of the National Institutes of Health) are the authors of the study. Dr. Rogan said, ‘Although we knew that breastfeeding in the developing world was lifesaving, since it prevented diarrhea and pneumonia, we had no nationally representative data from the US on this very basic outcome. These data show that, even in the US, there is a modest decrease in mortality for breastfed children.’ ”

            http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/3/e827.full

            “1 case of NEC requiring surgery or resulting in death could be prevented if 8 infants received an exclusive human milk diet.”

            “Meta-analyses with a clear definition of degree of breastfeeding and adjusted for confounders and other known risks for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) note that breastfeeding is associated with a 36% reduced risk of SIDS.”

            “It has been calculated that more than 900 infant lives per year may be saved in the United States if 90% of mothers exclusively breastfed for 6 months.”

            That last link also details the myriad ways that the majority of babies who do survive without breastmilk are at increased risk of a vast panoply of diseases and other health conditions, supoptimal cognitive development, etc.

          • suchende

            You assume a causal relationship every time a correlation is observed then? Because your sources do. That is the problem that us breastfeeding “critics” have with these recommendations. Breastfeeding has some minor advantages. Dr. Amy has a whole column on the “900 lives” statistic, if you’re interested.

          • Go ahead and link me. I did already address the issue of correlation versus causation, and retrospective versus prospective studies, in another comment; I am quite familiar with the issues involved. But said issues include an ethical dilemma: it is quite simply not ethical nor practical to assign people to different nutritional choices, not unless we are going to run things like North Korea. So any such issue relating to infant feeding will also be there when you study smoking, diet, exercise, etc. (although less so with short-term studies of exercise).

            You are therefore clinging to a kind of bankshot hope. It is equivalent to hoping that it is in fact the case that people who are naturally thin and healthy for some other reason happen, perhaps because of some confounding cofactor, to like broccoli and whole-grains, and dislike boloney on white bread or doughnuts. Yet their health or lack thereof is not actually caused by those dietary choices. Theoretically possible, but I would not bet on it.

            Do you not see the irony of dismissing the strong position of a medical organisation on a blog devoted to trusting medical authorities? I mean, what: ACOG has it all figured out, but AAP is all wet? Really? The tortured attempts to dismiss the value of medical authorities’ opinions are ironically more reminiscent of the fringes of Crunchytown (like those who dismiss the value of all vaccines) than anything. Does anyone here take a consistent logical position? Or is everyone just looking to justify their own choices and lifestyle?

          • suchende

            “Does anyone here take a consistent logical position? Or is everyone just looking to justify their own choices and lifestyle?”

            FIrst of all, I have been nursing as I replied to you in this thread, so let’s leave the ad hominems out of this.

            I don’t let ACOG skate on its respectability any more than APP. If you want to see critically-thinking moms call ACOG on the carpet, bring up recommendations against light drinking during pregnancy. I used to lobby for a professional association, and I am not about to take any policy statement at face value, though I do rather think APP has earned the benefit of the doubt.

            Still, I think they are wrong here. Why? Well, mostly because once you start to account for confounding factors, the purported benefits of breastfeeding largely evaporate. We see this most starkly in the sibling studies, where one child was breastfed and another wasn’t. All that is really left in terms of remarkable differences are those in IQ. Now, I do personally wonder if that difference (of less than 2 percentile points) would also evaporate once you accounted for the known difference between eldest and subsequent sibling IQs, but that’s just speculation on my part.

            And as long as I am speculating, I seriously question the wisdom of any public policy position that suggests family should compromise financial security for the purported benefits of breastfeeding.

          • “I am not about to take any policy statement at face value, though I do rather think AAP has earned the benefit of the doubt.”

            I agree with you about both parts of that, and also about light drinking in pregnancy. But to me, the vast differences compositionally between breastmilk and formula suggest that if anything, we should be surprised there are not greater differences and outcomes between breast-fed and formula fed babies.

            I don’t get your point about financial security. My wife is the sole breadwinner in our family, and she breast-fed both of our biological children while using only three scoops total of formula, pumping before and after work, and during her 20 minute lunch break. In a more civilized nation, she would have gotten extensive maternity leave; but even without that, she managed.

            In any event, as the AAP said, the benefits* of breast milk are dose-dependent. There are still far too many babies getting no breast milk at all or very little.

            *Though I cringe to phrase it that way; I much prefer using the breastfed infant as the normative model for comparison.

          • disqus_61tNDsHTqn

            “I don’t get your point about financial security. My wife is the sole breadwinner in our family, and she breast-fed both of our biological children while using only three scoops total of formula, pumping before and after work, and during her 20 minute lunch break.”

            I’m glad it worked out for your family since it sounds like breastfeeding is something you really value, but i don’t get what point your family situation is supposed to illustrate. I don’t know that i could have maintained adequate supply pumping that infrequently; i have tiny tits that leaked copiously after a couple hours. How many hours a day did your wife work? Did she have easy access to a place to wash her hands, a refrigerator or a reasonably cool (i.e. not 100-degree) spot where she could place a cooler?

            How many day cares accommodate pumped milk? Since i’m guessing the vast majority of working women don’t have a partner at home watching the kids. -S

          • She had a bathroom to wash her hands, as I think most workplaces would. And a small fridge in her classroom, although one of the amazing properties of breast milk is that it can sit out at room temperature for several hours without spoiling, due presumably to the live immunological cells it contains. And my impression had been that there are a lot of people who send pumped breastmilk to day care, as I have seen people mention doing so many times.

            Still, if your point is that the maternity/paternity leave policies in the US are less than optimally conducive to breast-feeding, you will get no argument from me. If your point is that the US having much less paid leave then almost the entire world is just fine, but parents should simply deal with it by formula feeding, then I certainly would take issue with that interpretation.

          • disqus_61tNDsHTqn

            Man, i tried to delete that shit because i don’t feel like pursuing this. Fuck you, commenting system. Anyway, if i had a point, it was the first one. And you didn’t clarify what you were getting at in describing your wife’s pumping circumstances. I was describing my former work situation, outdoor manual labor. (I’m a middle-class gal, and it was the closest my brain could come to imagining the circumstances of a disempowered laborer, which, to be clear, i was not.) – S

          • Karen in SC

            Who will financially support the mothers who have difficulty breastfeeding and going back to work so they can stay hom and BF instead? Will free breastmilk banks be maintained for those mothers who don’t have milk?

            What about smoking? Should we outlaw smoking (and other behaviors) that may increase SIDS?

            I am fine with pediatricians encouraging BF and explaining these studies. Just as I want NCB parents to be informed of the greater risks.

          • Well, at least a stab at consistency in your final paragraph. Kudos for that.

            We should in fact join the rest of the civilised, and even most of the non-civilised, world in having paid maternity–and in some cases paternity–leave. My sister is Canadian, and the difference across the border is night and day:

            http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/05/24/489973/paid-maternity-leave-us/?mobile=wt

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            If breastfeeding had anything do with SIDS it must be so small as to not even register because when Australia implemented the ‘back to sleep’ initiative it reduced the rate of SIDS by over 95%. Considering that most likely everyone did not comply that is very strong evidence that it was always sleeping position.

          • Box of Salt

            Alan,
            may I suggest searching the archives here and perhaps at the Science Based Medicine blog about the actual scientifically demonstrated benefits of breastfeeding in developed countries.

            (If you wish, you may now label me, too, as patronizing you, but I hope you’ll still take the time to look at what the research actually shows after you do that.)

          • I think I’m good with the review of the literature at the authoritative American Academy of Pediatrics’ policy statement “Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk”, most recently updated in 2012, unless you can convincingly demonstrate to me why I should not trust that source.

            http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/129/3/e827.full

          • Box of Salt

            Alan, please re-read your citation and point out exactly where this position paper shows clear cut long term benefits for exclusively breastfeeding the average infant in the United States.

          • Are you punking me? I could quote the whole thing, but how about the clear-cut conclusion:

            “Research and practice in the 5 years since publication of the last AAP policy statement have reinforced the conclusion that breastfeeding and the use of human milk confer unique nutritional and nonnutritional benefits to the infant and the mother and, in turn, optimize infant, child, and adult health as well as child growth and development. Recently, published evidence-based studies have confirmed and quantitated the risks of not breastfeeding. Thus, infant feeding should not be considered as a lifestyle choice but rather as a basic health issue. As such, the pediatrician’s role in advocating and supporting proper breastfeeding practices is essential and vital for the achievement of this preferred public health goal.”

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Alan,

            You asked me how I knew that you were a layperson with minimal knowledge of science. It’s because you quote abstracts as if their existence means that they are true.

            In order to know whether the conclusions of a scientific paper are true you MUST

            1. READ the actual paper, not the abstract

            2. Assess the math

            3. Determine whether the authors conclusions are justified by the data and mathematical analysis

            4. COMPARE it to the bulk of the relevant literature to determine if the finding is consistent with existing data

            Quoting the abstract is the equivalent of proclaiming that a book is brilliant because you read the blurb on the back and that is what it said.

          • I guess you’ll be shutting down your blog, then, because I don’t see any of that here.

          • To expand upon that, you present yourself as a medical authority we all should be listening to; but if someone disagrees with you and cites medical authorities (or organisations, like the AAP) with more gravitas that you possess even with your past association with Harvard, you dismiss them and set goalposts impossibly high for their counterpoints to have any validity.

            You implicitly welcome the countless comments on your blog which support your POV despite their involving no technical analysis; but when someone takes issue with your points, suddenly they have entered some sort of exclusive highly technical scientific journal with insanely high standards for publication, that one has to suspect would exclude someone like you with such a stale CV. (Have you published anything this millennium?). Your extremely selective and inconsistent use of credentialling when it suits you is antithetical to the spirit of scientific inquiry–you should be embarrassed for yourself. As I have said, you could learn a lot from me. But you are far too stubborn and blinded by pride and some kind of deep-seated rage (again: who hurt you?) to ever do so.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Alan, you seem to have no trouble ignoring the “authoritative” AAP when it suits you. They oppose homebirth, support circumcision and don’t tout the tenets of attachment parenting. You ignore them on all three issues and now whine that they are your source for your claims about breastfeeding.

            Get a grip, Alan, you came here to lecture us although many of us are obstetricians and pediatricians. You have no idea what the scientific literature as a whole shows and you quote stuff you read in books and on websites for laypeople and expect us to be impressed, when we know you’ve never even read it. It hasn’t worked out the way you planned. We aren’t impressed; indeed we are laughing at you.

            You’re wrong Alan, and you shouldn’t argue points with people who know far more about the issues. If you want to be respected and taken seriously in a discussion on science, you MUST read the actual papers. Try it; you’ll be surprised at what you learn.

          • You try reading for comprehension first:

            http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2012/08/22/peds.2012-1989.full.pdf
            “[The] health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns”

            Health is not the reason I oppose MGM; the reason is that like most non-Muslim men born outside the U.S., I possess intact genitalia and understand implicitly what a travesty it is to surgically remove the healthy prepuce.

          • disqus_61tNDsHTqn

            Alan, speaking for myself only, could you rein it in and
            stick to two or three of the topics at hand?
            Or go find posts on the topics you want to discuss instead of cramming
            them all in here. Assuming you’re
            interested in actual conversation as opposed to endless pontification. S

          • So responding directly to one of the three items the blog owner addressed directly to me is too scattershot for your taste? Okaaayyyy…

          • disqus_61tNDsHTqn

            Yeeeessssss… Actually it was a bit harsh of me to put that comment here. Dr. Amy did bring up the AAP’s stance on circumcision, and you only went into a teeniest little diatribe about the TRAVESTY (props for not using the m-word!), so… I offer a teeny little (sincere) apology.

          • If you are still on the fence, maybe just go with the apology. 😉

            I kid!

            But seriously, although I know I can have a tendency to be a tad pedantic, I would hardly think that would be a hanging offense around these parts, given the general tone of the blog. Unless it’s supposed to be like a cult, where the leader gets to be pedantic and everyone else must bow at their feet? If so, I’m not signing on for that. Not here, not at Feminist Breeder (I got a comment deleted there and vowed to never go back; so if Dr. Amy wants to be rid of me, I have just clued her in as to how, although that would require her to descend to the level of her antagonist).

          • ratiomom

            Alan, I for one am completely boggled by the tendency of the AP/NCB crowd, including you, to massively inflate some tiny risks, while completely downplaying some large ones. Take for example breastfeeding vs homebirthing and bed-sharing. Admittedle, not breastfeeding (in developed countries) carries a small risk minor GE and respiratory infections, which almost never have lasting consequences for the child when treated with western medicine. However, the AP crowd keeps on highlighting any and all aspects of this, elevating BF to an absolute requirement for acceptable motherhood.
            On the other hand, birth is the single most dangerous day of childhood, with a very real risk of death or disability. To the NCB movement, all this is just a river in Egypt. And bed-sharing has been provern to kill babies over and over again, but having a family bed is touted as desirable and even necessary for a good breastfeeding relationship.

            Could it be that this whole AP movement is less about the wellbeing of children and more about foisting a religious right agenda on families? Knowing Dr Sears’ background, I wouldn’t be amazed at all.
            .

          • If you know of evidence that bedsharing by non-intoxicated adults causes more infant mortality than formula feeding does, please share it. I won’t even be as picky as Dr. Amy about standards of evidence. And I just know from experience with four kids that mothers can’t breastfeed and get sufficient sleep without cosleeping.

            My original point seems to have gotten lost though. It was never “I am the one who has figured out how to take no risks with my children”, but “all parents risk their children’s lives in various ways, so if the risk is changed from vanishingly small to still really small, I’m not sure it’s worth getting up in arms about. ” That was the gist of my very first post here, and I would like to refocus on it as we have drifted afield.

            Yes, there is some increased risk in homebirthing and cosleeping. Also in taking kids on car rides, having a backyard pool, sending them to summer camp, letting them take the family car when they are sixteen. The reason I originally brought up breastfeeding was to say “okay, if the slight increased risk of homebirthing is unacceptable, I sure hope you are being consistent and taking a hard line against formula feeding”. Capiche?

            Oh, and I’m a left wing atheist…so there’s that.

          • ratiomom

            This reaction of proving my point. It’s a classic example of AP-doublethink. First you derive your argument from the AAP when discussing breastfeeding. Then, when discussing bedsharing, you completely ignore the AAP stance on that. You obviously know the way to their site very well, I suggest you go read for comprehension what they have to say on bedsharing.

            I agree with you that parenting is often a choice between risks. Our point is that the AP movement has lost sight of what would be rational choices in some matters. Your personal political choices are not the subject of this discussion. Dr Sears is an evangelical christian with very right-wing views of women’s roles. His parenting style tends to push families towards a lifestyle that is consistent with these views, even if those families don’t share them.

          • Look, there are all kinds of reasons people promote or defend cosleeping, most of them sentimental. I would be against it due to the legitimate issue of risk if there were any reasonable alternative that allowed parents to get sleep at night. Absent that, I am not denying the risk, only saying that for us, taking it is akin to the decision “if we want to visit Grandma and Grandpa in Minnesota this summer, we’ve got to risk the possibility of grisly death on the highway”. If you look at that risk and say “forget it, we are staying home”, that’s fine. Other families will make a different calculation.

            Same point applies to choosing to formula feed (which you’ll notice I have not proposed outlawing), or giving birth at home, or raising a family in an older home with lead paint.

          • ratiomom

            I agree with you that parents should be allowed to make their own decisions regarding certain risks. But why do you (and most AP adepts) insist on heaping the guilt and condemnation on mothers who decide not to breastfeed, while choosing to bedshare/homebirth is considered perfectly legitimate and even desirable? You can’t call this logical by any standard.

            Deciding to break some AAP recommendations (homebirth, bedsharing) gets you an AP badge of honor, breaking others (breastfeeding) means excommunication.

            How do you explain this strange discrepancy? Please don’t try telling me that formula feeding in a developed country is somehow way more dangerous than homebirth and bedsharing combined.

          • I wouldn’t be so sure, especially if we factor in the non-lethal effects of formula feeding on public health and child development.

            But you are right: mea culpa. I brought up formula feeding as an illustration of an inconsistency I saw in Dr. A’s agenda, and then got carried away and fell prey to the same type of hypocrisy myself. It’s a fine line to walk, and easy to get off track in the heat of the moment, but I will henceforth try more assiduously to stick with my main thesis regarding parents’ rights to choose something other than the least risk for their children, within reason, something with which you seem to imply agreement. (That may require some repetition to avoid misunderstanding among those who have not read all my comments.)

          • Esther

            Thing is, most people who defend bedsharing on ideological grounds have a perfectly good alternative “that allows parents to get sleep at night”: it’s called roomsharing, or sidecarring the crib to the parental bed. But if you look at how many ideological cosleepers actually sleep, they don’t consider any arrangement other than the baby physically in bed with them as acceptable. Many (if the photos they proudly post are to be believed) don’t actually follow many of the so-called “rules” for safe cosleeping, either.

          • We agree on a good bit of that. But we tried a sidecar “cosleeper” due to safety concerns. Didn’t work for us because to really get sleep, we need baby to latch on and nurse without mom or baby ever fully waking up.

          • Box of Salt

            Alan: “if there were any reasonable alternative that allowed parents to get sleep at night”

            Exactly why do you think allowing a baby to sleep in a crib is not reasonable?

          • Sleep-nursing is not possible if baby is sleeping in a crib.

          • Box of Salt

            Alan, not all babies need to nurse all night long.

          • Many people have difficulty getting back to sleep if they are awakened even for a few minutes.

          • Box of Salt

            “Many people have difficulty getting back to sleep if they are awakened even for a few minutes
            What does that have to do with whether or not a baby needs to nurse?

          • Huh?

            When cosleeping, nursing can occur without the mother having to fully wake up at all. If not cosleeping, the mother has to wake up, get the baby out of the crib, sit in a rocking chair or something (if she brings the baby into bed she risks falling asleep, natch), nurse for a few minutes, then put the baby back in the crib. Then, if she is like the two women who bore my children, she will be stuck awake for the next hour or more.

          • Box of Salt

            Alan, I’m sorry the women in your life have such difficulty sleeping.

            However, please consider this: your family’s experience is not universal.

            I rarely have trouble falling back to sleep. On the other hand, I move around a lot in my sleep, and I am not comfortable sleeping with an infant.

            For me, nursing in a chair and putting the baby back in a safe place was a much more reasonable option.

            And one of my children stopped waking up to nurse during the night at only three months old. However, I’m aware that this is unusual and I’m not running around implying my parenting style is superior because I got lucky in that regard.

            I don’t have a problem with your cosleeping. But I do have a problem with your attitude that it’s the best way to accomplish breastfeeding, simply because your family did it.

            Please repeat after me: my family’s experience is not universal.

          • My point exactly.

          • GuestB

            I’m sorry. Talk to me like I’m 5. How is this your point exactly?

          • Okay, LOL…you asked for it!

            “Some mommies and daddies have their babies at home. Some have them in the hospital. Some keep baby in bed with them, some in a crib next to them, and some down the hall in a ‘nursery’. Some mommies and daddies feed their baby special milk the mommy makes just for baby, others buy a mix from the store. Some mommies and daddies feed big kids like you Goldfish crackers and hot dogs, others feed them fruits and veg. People are different, and they are allowed to be, even if they don’t do things the way we like the best.”

          • GuestB

            Oh my. Where is that quote from?

          • Me, talking as if to a five year old.

          • Box of Salt

            Alan, some constructive criticism for you: if you are trying to make the point that we all have different levels of risks we’re willing to accept, don’t shoot the point in the foot by bolstering it with sweeping generalizations based only on your own experiences.

            In addition, you flat out admitted you could not picture how anyone could successfully breastfeed differently than how your family did it. This does not suggest you’re open to considering other perspectives.

            Finally, what’s with your snide closing comment: “even if they don’t do things the way we like the best”? Does this mean that the only way you can cope those other viewpoints that is by judging them as worse than your own?

          • Box of Salt

            Oops. I lost a “with” between “cope” and “those” above.

          • I guess you missed the hint that you might want to do the same about cosleeping and homebirth.

          • Box of Salt

            Repost for the man who’s showing us all how open-minded he is:

            I don’t have a problem with your cosleeping. But I do have a problem with your attitude that it’s the best way to accomplish breastfeeding, simply because your family did it.

          • “I don’t have a problem with your cosleeping”.

            How about with homebirth?

          • Box of Salt

            Alan, I did attempt to post an answer to your question within half an hour of your asking it, but I’m not sure what happened (either my computer or Disqus is acting up). If it never appears I’ll repost it later.

          • Box of Salt

            For clarification: my original post replying to Alan has not yet appeared, nor have I reposted it.

          • Box of Salt

            Reposting the short version (in case the first one reappears):

            I would not homebirth because I think the risks are too high.

            I’ve answered your question. Would you now be willing to consider thoughtfully what I’ve posted?

          • Sure.

            My question though is not whether you would choose to homebirth but whether it is okay for other parents to choose differently.

          • Box of Salt

            Alan, I answered that question 7 hours ago. Before you asked it.

            I shall quote myself from upthread:

            “I can picture how someone else might make choices that differ from my own.”

            Now could you please stop trying to paint me as more judgmental than you?

          • I’m really not. I was just trying to determine, without prejudging, whether your opinion diverged with that of the consensus here, and apparently it does. So I think maybe we don’t fundamentally disagree.

          • My answer would be it depends on why they are choosing homebirth. If they do actually have some real idea of the risks and want to do it anyway then of course they should be free to do so.

            Cannot for the life of me understand what they believe the benefit is that justifies the risk, and would not find the gamble admirable.

          • Fair enough.

          • I would add that I would be pleasantly surprised if Dr. Amy took the same line.

          • GuestB

            I am nothing like the two women who bore your children. I breastfed both my kids for one year and night nursed for 9-10 months of that year. I had to get up, walk down the hall, nurse in the glider, and walk back to my room when I was done. I was always asleep before my head hit the pillow. Just wanted to let you know that there are those of us out there that did not cosleep and were very well rested.

          • Yup, people vary in their arrangements and the risks they are willing to take. We accept the risk associated with cosleeping, you accept the higher SIDS risk associated with putting the crib down the hall instead of in your bedroom.

            This is the point I have been trying to make all along, though I admitted to getting off track at times, and offered a mea culpa for doing so.

          • GuestB

            Wait – I thought we were talking about being well rested when you breastfed at night. Why are you talking now about risks of cosleeping and SIDS?

          • Gene

            I managed to breastfeed two kids for over a year each without co-sleeping. We used a co-sleeper attached to the bed. And I slept just fine.

          • Finding it hard to picture how that would work. We tried and it didn’t work for us.

          • Box of Salt

            Alan, the difference between you and me is that I can picture how someone else might make choices that differ from my own. Maybe you should try a little harder (picturing things, that is).

          • It’s not the making of different choices I have trouble picturing, but the logistics of breastfeeding, using a crib, and getting one’s beauty sleep.

          • Box of Salt

            Hey Alan ” And I just know from experience with four kids that mothers can’t breastfeed and get sufficient sleep without cosleeping.”

            Allow me to correct this for you: your wife could not breastfeed and get sufficient sleep without cosleeping.

            Plenty of other women manage it without resorting to sharing a bed with their infant – that includes me.

            This is yet another example of your insisting what worked for you is the be-all and end-all in parenting. It isn’t – other strategies work for other people. Why is that so hard for you to understand?

          • Fair enough, but you do see how that can be turned around the other way, right?

          • I have always found it an interesting social phenomenon that many people (my sister, for example) who would fit the demographic of liberal and non-religious choose to take child care advice from a religious conservative. Most people in my circle who are left of center want nothing to with the religious right and vice versa for the conservatives I know. Is Dr. Sears trying to foist an agenda? I don’t know but, this is part of the reason I am wary of him or anyone with very strong views on either side of the political/religious spectrum.

          • S

            =) No, not a hanging offense.

            Alan, my problem is that you’re pedantic without having much to add to the conversation. Do you really think we haven’t heard your arguments, or anecdotes similar to yours, many times before? Do you think your information is threatening to us, and that we’re having some kind of collective emotional response based on regret of our own parenting decisions? You do realize that we have many breastfeeding/cosleeping/non-circing parents here? (And yes, even mothers who have had homebirths.) Why do you think your own personal experiences are somehow more valid than anyone else’s?

            Sorry for the delay in responding. I am not articulate, it takes me a long time to put my thoughts together, and i only get little snatches of time usually.

          • S

            Not trying to run you off by the way. I for one would be very interested in your perspective as a SAHD in many of these conversations. (Disjointed typing; nursing old-ass toddler for some reason.)

          • So no one should comment here if what they say has ever been said by anyone in any comment section here in the past? Boy, I have seen a lot of people breaking that rule already, and I’ve only looked at a few threads.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            No, I think she meant that it is the height of arrogance to presume to lecture us on medicine, parenting or anything else without checking to see if we have heard and deconstructed the same drivel before.

            You are just like every other basically ignorant, definitely insecure, preening AP parent. You act like a fool when you presume to educate people who actually read the scientific literature on what the scientific literature shows despite the fact that you have never read it.

            You’re like a book critic who reads the blurbs on the back and then presumes to review the book: ignorant and supremely ignorant of your ignorance.

            If you are this arrogant to other adults, particularly those who know a lot more than you do about the subject under discussion, I shudder to think how dis/respectful you are to your children if they dare to disagree with you.

          • S

            What she said. And Alan, that thing you do, where you try to cleverly circumvent the point of people’s comments to you — It’s not cute, and we’re not stupid. If you respond to me, i’ll read it, but i think i’m done with this conversation.

          • Sterrell

            I followed your link and read the following.

            “Evaluation of current evidence indicates the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks and that the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it. Specific benefits included prevention of urinary tract infections, penile cancer, and transmission of some sexually transmitted infections.”

            Why, look. I can read an abstract, too. Perhaps it didn’t say what you think it did.

          • “Although health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns, the benefits of circumcision are sufficient to justify access to this procedure for families choosing it and to warrant third-party payment for circumcision of male newborns. It is important that clinicians routinely inform parents of the health benefits and risks of male newborn circumcision in an unbiased and accurate manner.
            Parents ultimately should decide whether circumcision is in the best interests of their male child. They will need to weigh medical information in the context of their own religious, ethical, and cultural beliefs and practices. The medical benefits alone may not outweigh these other considerations for individual families.”

            My emphasis would be on the “ethical” part.

          • Captain Obvious

            And a few years ago we were counselling parents that the AAP finds that there is no medical necessity for circumcision. And insurance companies were ready to refuse coverage for it based on that AAP recommendation. Qoute all the AAP and ACOG “guidelines for the moment” you want, but every day there are middle aged and elderly men on the OR schedule in nearly every major university hospital for circumcision. They can no longer clean themselves and get repeated cases of balanitis. The families, nursing homes, and retirement homes are not going to retract your foreskin and clean it daily, so off to the OR. Unless you have already had it as a newborn.

          • Have you ever seen rankings of the world’s healthiest countries?

            ETA: “The families, nursing homes, and retirement homes are not going to retract your foreskin and clean it daily”

            IOW, just like my entire life thus far (except that I have had zero lifetime cases of balanitis).

          • Captain Obvious

            Blog here when you’re 80 years old. If not yourself, you will know men who will have had circumcision after 60.

          • I doubt it, if for no other reason than that almost all American men of my generation were circumcised.

            I will ask again: Have you ever seen rankings of the world’s healthiest countries?

          • Captain Obvious

            Not lately, and I am sure USA is not near the top, what does that prove. In a captitalist nation with huge diversity in nationality we have poor health, obesity, and low on education as compared to other countries. Don’t need to be an unemployed SAHD to figure that out. And when I say unemployed, I don’t mean it in the government’s definition, I mean it in your situation, that you are not working.

          • Again, do you use the phrase “unemployed SAHM”, or are you unabashedly sexist?

            My point was not that the US is so low, but that in the countries clustered at the top of those lists, circumcision is practically unheard of.

          • Sterrell

            Interesting emphasis on the “individual” and “parents.” I missed where the AAP forgot to inquire into your specific ethics when making general recommendations.

          • Box of Salt

            Alan, quoting a sentence that includes the word “evidence” isn’t actual evidence. It’s the equivalent of saying “Because I said so.” You need to get specific.

          • Read the AAP statement for yourself, there are plenty of specifics there. I am willing to treat them as an authoritative source. If you are not, that is your prerogative.

          • Esther

            I’ve read the AAP statement. I also happen to have read many of the papers referenced in it, in full text.

            While said papers support the conclusion that there are benefits, mostly on the population level and mostly in the realm of infectious disease prevention, to breastfeeding in the developed world, the AAP statement far overstates the magnitude and range of these benefits. Many of those studies claiming ‘benefits’ don’t account well enough for confounding factors – for example, the Chen and Rogan paper that claims a 21% reduction in postneonatal deaths which you find so convincing is almost certainly the result of confounders (consider that the only statistically significant result in that study is a reduction in deaths due to injuries, for example).

            You might also want to consider that at least some of the authors of these papers (e.g. Melissa Bartick – look her up by searching this blog; she’s also graced the comment section) and the neonatologist who chaired the current policy committee have ties with breastfeeding organizations such as LLL. Imagine the squawking from the usual quarters if the policy statement were written by doctors with ties to the formula industry. Why should we expect an unbiased statement from breastfeeding advocates?

            I would always take AAP policy statements with a grain of salt and never quote them as a sole authority, especially the ones regarding hot-button topics.

          • The equating of public health advocacy groups on the one hand, and on the other hand huge, capitalist multinational corporations that fundamentally value nothing other than profits no matter whom they hurt in the process, doesn’t cut it with me. But YMMV.

          • Esther

            You’d have to be extremely naive to think that the only reason for bias (such as those of advocacy groups and multinational corporations) is monetary gain.

          • I do tsk-tsk a lot of what you describe there, but the “warm tap water” thing is really the one I consider most important to call you out on, as it is just bad news. I already mentioned that in my previous reply, but I want to back it up with a source:

            http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/29/health/29real.html/partner/rssnyt/?_r=0
            “THE BOTTOM LINE
            Hot water from the tap should never be used for cooking or drinking.”

          • me

            How much time savings are we talking about here? I mean, after the first few weeks, once bfing is established? Sure, it can be time consuming in the beginning, and more so if you have difficulties, but I would think bfing an older infant wouldn’t take any longer than ff an older infant. Heck, there might be time savings – no trips to the store, no prep, no washing bottles, etc.

            FWIW, bottle propping is a big “no no” (potential choking) and the baby’s sibs (if they have any) may be too young to reliably feed the infant (I wouldn’t let my 3 year old feed her sister, ack). Giving larger servings is nice in theory, but you really want to avoid over-stuffing the baby (I know people who are actually *proud* that their 6 week old babies take 6 oz bottles… yikes). It isn’t a matter of “intensive mothering” it’s a matter of safety and health in most cases. Sure my MIL used to be expected to watch her nieces when she was 6 years old. That’s illegal now. As well it should be. Yes, expectations change. That’s not always a bad thing…

          • suchende

            The biggest time savings is that someone else (dad, grandma, and yes, even a supervised 6 yr old sibling) can do some of the work. I’d let a 6 yr old give my daughter a bottle while I, say, chopped up the rosemary for the roast (which is something I can’t do at this very moment because my baby has no interest in being set down right now).

          • me

            Fair enough, but during the day my 6 year old is at school and my husband is at work – who’s supposed to be freeing up my time by giving the baby a bottle then? I do let my 3 year old spoon feed the baby, but that saves me no time – I must supervise and then clean peas off the baby, the 3 year old, the high chair, the table, the walls, the floor (you get the idea, lol). I let her do it because she wants to “help” and I want to foster that spirit of helping; not to save myself time.
            Sure, there can be time savings *assuming someone else is actually around to help*. That is not always (or even usually) the case. Sure, my husband could give bottles in the evening while I give the older two their bath. Or I could nurse the baby while HE gives the older two their bath. And we save the expense of formula doing the latter. I guess when you have very young children, no relatives nearby, and are a SAHM, formula for convenience’s sake makes little sense…. heck, when he’s deployed, bfing is a godsend (no packing up three kids for a late night dash to the store cuz we’re running low on formula, one less thing to have to remember while taking the kids anywhere, etc). Formula as a time saver assumes there is someone else around to do the feeding for you. Doesn’t always work that way…

          • suchende

            The fact that other people can’t help often makes those opportunities to let someone pitch in all the more valuable, for me.

          • me

            Sure it’s valuable when someone else can pitch in, but bfing doesn’t preclude that. I’d much rather have someone pitch in by giving the toddler a bath or putting the kids to bed, or folding laundry, or sweeping the floor, while I sit down, relax, and nurse my baby, than giving the baby a bottle while I do those more labor-intensive tasks.

            I sat down and did the math, and depressing as it is, after taxes, increased fuel cost, daycare for three kids, and the cost of formula, if I was working 40 hours a week I’d bring home about 50 cents an hour. First of all, I’d gladly pay $20 a week to be with my kids an extra 40 hours (my job wasn’t terribly fulfilling for me), and that $20 a week likely is an overestimate; I haven’t even accounted for extra wear and tear on my vehicle or extra cost for clothing. And if the school is delayed/closed due to adverse weather, or one of the kids is sick or has an appt, I would be the one taking time off work to attend to those things. Maybe the economy only values me at about 50 cents an hour; I think my time is worth more than that (to me at least), so SAH is a no-brainer.

            For those times I do need to get away (a couple hours to myself, a date with my husband), I can pump 3-4 oz of breastmilk in 15 minutes (including rinsing pump part and tossing them in the dishwasher). 15 minutes costs me a whopping 12.5 cents. So I’m in essence paying 12.5 cents for 3-4 oz of breastmilk, which will buy me at least 4-6 hours of “freedom”. And now that she’s on solids, it can buy me a lot more time than that. Heck what I spent two hours pumping a few months ago is still in my freezer and will still be good for another 2-3 months… it will probably expire before I use it.

            I do understand that for higher earning women the opportunity cost of staying at home or breastfeeding is much higher, for me it’s about two cups of Starbucks coffee a week. Sad and depressing, but such is life 😉 And I know a lot of people who make a lot less than I did at my former job…. yikes… they are paying to go to work.

        • Alenushka

          What is so rude about pointing out that mother’s time has $$ value?

          • Squillo

            Not mention value that goes beyond money. ‘Cause frankly, while I could have earned $$ during the time I chose to bf instead, there were also a few other things I’d have quite liked to do, like sleep, exercise, read, go to school…

            I enjoyed bf my kids, but on the scale of stuff I enjoy, it’s only about a 5.

        • auntbea

          My best fried and I have actually have this exact conversation at least once a month (One of us: [something or other] is free. The other of us: only if your time is worth nothing). Far from being offended, the first one usually says, “Aha! Yes, you are right!” Now granted, we are both social science professors, so we have atypical ways of thinking about things. But that doesn’t change the fact that such a a statement is not inherently rude.

          • fiftyfifty1

            e.g. Grown vegetables in your backyard, they’re healthful and it’s free!

          • Home-knit sweaters are free!
            And I had someone tell me once it was good I’m homeschooling, because that’s free too!

          • Michele

            I always laugh when people find out I knit and ask if I do it to save money.

          • Bombshellrisa

            hehe, I want to get the canvas bag that says “I knit so I don’t kill people”. Save money? No, Save my sanity, YES!

    • Alenushka

      You can feel as sore are you want about it. I am sorry you do. But I know how much my time as freelancer was worth when I had my kids. So, every hour I was pumping or nursing, that was hourly wage lost. I did for variety of reasons, but I knew then and I know now that nursing was not free for me.

    • fiftyfifty1

      I laugh at the idea of having to censor accurate and succinct expressions of basic principles of economics because some butthurt person doesn’t believe this is “appropriate in polite conversation”.

      • suchende

        Not to repeat myself, but if anything is rude, it’s telling women their time is worth nothing. BFing not free to me and it’s not free to our economy either. Now, it’s possible that breastfeeding is more “valuable” than it costs, but that doesn’t make it free.

        • Not sure there is any need for hurt feelings here – but wasn’t it the OP who implied that her time had no monetary value?

    • disqus_61tNDsHTqn

      I suspect Amy is looking at a different part of the equation than everyone else. I think Sullivan was talking about the cost part of the cost/benefit analysis, while Amy is looking at the other side of the equals sign.

      I barely understand what’s going on, and this is as far as my brain can take that thought, but maybe a smarter person can run with it; otherwise feel free to ignore.

      – S who can’t figure out how to sign in now

    • I don’t know. Even as a stay at home mom, I always interpretted that quote as acknowledging that my time was worth something. When people say “oh, breastfeeding is free” it ignores the amount to which I have had to put into it. Sure, breastfeeding doesn’t cost money, but it costs time, and I have put a lot of time into it. I don’t mind having that acknowledged.

    • It might be that she was talking about what economists call opportunity costs. Opportunity cost is the value of whatever you have to give up in order get something else. Whenever you spend time doing one thing
      (whether this is breastfeeding, jogging, watching TV etc….) the time you spend comes at the expense of the other things you could be doing with that same time. The time and energy a woman spends breastfeeding could be used to do any number of other things, working is just one example. Even though breastfeeding is free for you in terms of there not being income being spent on formula the cost in this example is the time that you could have spent working. It’s important to remember though that opportunity costs are NOT confined to monetary costs—they can also be described in terms of intangible benefits like enjoyment. In this way, there is also a “cost” to my spending time at work. Even though I am earning money, it comes at the expense of the enjoyment I would feel by staying home and doing something I like more than crunching numbers (and there are lots of things I like more-believe me!). I don’t have kids yet but, it sounds like you really enjoy being a SAHM so, going to work would come at a great cost to you. It’s up to everyone to weigh the costs and benefits of any decision based on what has the most value for them. Economic value is only one part of the equation. I bought a house in the suburbs because I value having space, quiet and privacy. I could have spent the same amount of money to have a smal condo in the city with no commuting time and greater proximity to shopping, restaurants and entertainment. I value the house in the suburbs more because of my personal preferences. I bought the house that had the most value to me but, it did come at the “cost” of a longer commute time and less convenience. I don’t know for sure but, I do hope the quote was meant that way and not intended to be snark because I think it’s too bad when women pick at each other over this stuff.

    • Box of Salt

      Amy,
      Since you have felt the need to repost your complaint, I’m going to repost my explanation.

      You ask: “If someone could explain to me the appropriate place in polite conversation for the above quote “bfing is free only if a woman’s time is worth nothing” I would love to hear it.”

      Exactly when in polite conversation would it be appropriate to proclaim “breastfeeding is free!”?

      My comment, which echoed what Sullivan the Poop posted much earlier although I had not yet read it, was in response to that claim. I repeat: it was IN RESPONSE to someone else’s claim.

      I am sorry you find it insulting that I think the time a woman spends breastfeeding a child has value.

      • Amy

        THANK YOU! The light bulb has finally gone off, and I have just realized it’s kind of an ass-backward way of saying “hey, don’t discount the value of your time [spent bfing]”

        NO ONE made it come across like that at all. All I saw was “if you are in an economic situation where breast feeding is free/saves money, then your time isn’t worth anything.” Which may be true in a strictly monetary sense, but is still demeaning in my opinion.

        And for the record, no one has the right to never be offended by what someone else says, but I DO have the right to say so if I am. So there’s not need for all the “OMG you think we shouldn’t say it just because it hurts your feeeeeelingssss!” I was just asking when it could be said in a normal conversation in a way that wasn’t derogatory. To me, that particular statement reads very much like a working mom (who has the financial means to stay home) might read
        “If you work outside the home when you can afford not to, you must love your job/money more than you love your kid.” (I do not think that is true, just using it as an example.)

        • Amazed

          I was just asking when it could be said in a normal conversation in a way that wasn’t derogatory.

          When it’s a response to what someone else is saying. Not sure that the recipient will take it like this.

          To be honest, “breastfeeding is free” sounded quite derogatory for me when I fist saw it. I read it as “you’re too dumb and self-absorbed to rob your family of money you could have saved if only you had breastfed”.

          “If you work outside the home when you can afford not to, you must love your job/money more than you love your kid.”

          Oh the olden days when my mother loved her jos so much! The first time her working schedule coincided with my school schedule was when I was 13… and it lasted for 5 years! It was terrible! I mean, my mom is great and so on but… when you are used to be alone at home (little brothers don’t count, they’re on your side), it’s very, very hard to adjust to the reality of having your mom at home with you all the time., though.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      I am going to declare The Bofa’s First Law of the Skeptical OB Blog: when the argument is lost, resort to tone-trolling

      Seriously, Amy, “…where does it belong in polite conversion”? Seriously?

      Considering that it is clear that you don’t even understand what is being said, that you consider it insulting is a pretty poor reason not to say it. As others have implied, where is your indignation at the suggestion that a woman’s time, even that of a SAHM, is worth nothing?

      I do find it amazing that women fought for years and years to get people to recognize that work in the home has value. Then along come BF advocates who dismiss it as worthless.

      • Amy

        I wasn’t tone trolling. My argument wasn’t lost. The tone and implication of the quote WAS my argument. I understand the economics perfectly, understood it actually before thirty people felt the need to explain to me how in the job market my time is worthless because I wouldn’t make more than the cost of daycare at this point.

        My question was a legitimate one, to help try to understand the non-offensive tone everyone else seemed to be getting but me.

        My indignation that a SAHM’s time is worth nothing is what made me offended by the line in the first place. I was reading “breastfeeding is only free if your time is worth nothing.” As: “Your time is worth nothing, that is why breastfeeding is free for /you/” (you in the general sense of SAHM)

        • fiftyfifty1

          Do you understand what tone trolling is?

        • suchende

          “I understand the economics perfectly, understood it actually before thirty people felt the need to explain to me how in the job market my time is worthless because I wouldn’t make more than the cost of daycare at this point.”

          You say you understand it, but I still wonder, because this doesn’t make a lick of sense. Just because your time is worth LESS than daycare doesn’t make it WORTHLESS. That’s like saying a Kate Spade handbag is worthless because a Celine handbag costs more. I’m economically better off with my Kate Spade and, in the short run, you’re better off staying home, but both your time and my purse still have a value.

    • anonymous

      It belongs in a conversation where breastfeeding is being touted as a significantly beneficial (in a developed world environment) and when it is toutted as “free.”

    • Sullivan ThePoop

      You took it the wrong way no matter how many times you want to justify it. It has nothing to do with whether or not one chooses to breastfeed. The whole ‘breastfeeding is free’ is untrue and not a good argument. Personally I have no feelings whatsoever about what feeding choices another person makes so why would I have any desire to scoff at anyone about it. I only have feelings about people trying to push their feeding choices onto others. Also, I stayed home with my last daughter for 2 years and only worked part-time until she started kindergarten. Why would I not think that a valid choice for others? I think you are being defensive because there are women out there who make fun of other women’s choices, but that is what I dislike. I would not participate in it.

    • NZ lurker

      II’m in IT. The same argument is sometimes used about the Linux operating system: use it because it’s free! The usual response is, “only if you think that your time has no value”. Perhaps that’s a less insulting wording? Again note that it’s not saying anything about Linux–there are many reasons to use it or not use it–but is pointing out that that line of reasoning is not compelling.

  • suchende

    I really wonder what lessons AP teaches daughters. If my mom had been like some of the AP moms I see on the Internet, there is no way I would ever have had kids.

    • Bombshellrisa

      My mom was very much like this, she still tells everyone that she would keep shutting the water off mid shower because she thought I was crying as a baby. This behavior still is going on with her, all three of her kids are grown but she is sure that we need her still and she has to exist for us. Deeply attached-she was insulted when my youngest brother moved across the country for a few years and was upset with my husband and I for not wanting to buy land so we could have a family compound (I am not making this up). I had not wanted kids simply because I didn’t think I had the strength to be my own person and AP/helicopter parent like her. So when I was a new parent, I was getting the message from her I was BAD because 1) I could leave my baby with my husband and go to the grocery store and then sit in a Starbucks for 30 minutes, 2) I sat my baby in a bouncer chair in front of the dishwasher while it was running because it was the only way to stop her crying (while I laid on the couch 6 feet away and tried to rest) 3) I let the baby cry it out and she was asleep in three minutes. None of this felt “natural” or right to me at the time, but it saved my sanity and dd is fine. She doesn’t panic when I am not there, like so many of the post AP children of my friends.

  • Guestl

    I was very deep into the AP-woo when my daughter, now 20 months, was first born. My parents are English, very stiff-upper lip, and not the most demonstrative of people. They are a product of their respective childhoods; my mother sent to boarding school at age 6 and my father evacuated away from his parents for 3 years during the war. They are loving people, but in a remote way, hands-off way.
    So when my daughter was born, I did it all — bedsharing, nursing on demand, wore her in the sling all of the time, tried to meet her every need each and every time, without regard to my own needs, or my husband’s. I was never apart from her at all, not for one moment, until she was 8 months old, and I went across the road for a manicure and pedicure.
    For an hour, I sat in that little salon, stiff and staring at my phone, waiting for a text from my husband (her freaking father!!!) telling me to come home, emergency, she’s crying, she’s hungry…and of course, it didn’t come. I came home to find father and daughter napping comfortably together. It was a real turning point, because I realized, I am not the only one who can care for this child. She will sink or swim and I hope to God she swims, but sometimes she will sink and that has to be okay.
    I have said this before, but I think Sears Sr. was probably a very good pediatrician at home point. And then he had one demanding child in his brood, and he and Martha did what worked for them in order to manage. The problem is, they codified it, based on an n of 1, and sold it to the masses as Gospel. There are things I like about AP, but those things are all the same when it comes to good parenting, and they don’t require one parent (usually the mother) to give up her entire identity in order to successfully raise a family.

  • The other John

    I’m sorry but nursing at the store salad bar is not very healthy, safe or very sanitary and just kind of weird. Especially when you son is over 3, you are talking to me about the weather and I am trying to look at your eyes. Might have been a better experience for me if you had nicer breasts but still kind of weird.

    • Josephine

      What is unhealthy, unsafe, and unsanitary about nursing in public?

      • Jose

        Breast milk is a blood born pathogen and like all body fluids it should not be around food consumed by the general public. Sorry fact of life.

        • Anonomom

          You have been misinformed. Breastmilk in public is no more of a concern than tears or sweat in public, and OSHA backs that up.

        • Jessica

          Not according to the CDC.

        • I don’t have a creative name

          What a bizarre opinion. I suppose if that holds true that you should never be around food as well because I am certain that you sweat, cough, sneeze, and do other things of the like that could also potentially contain pathogens. If you ever fart you should do definitely be housebound and never exposed to other people, as it could contain microscopic fecal matter that could potentially get into the air.

          • Siri

            Never Cry at the Salad Bar… Famous C&W song, not about emotion but public health.

        • suchende

          “Breast milk is a blood born pathogen”

          Orly?

        • Dr Kitty

          Jose, I don’t think you want to swab your local food court…

          It is actually quite hard to get breastmilk to contaminate a restaurant.
          Urine, faeces, saliva…not so much.

    • lacrima

      ” Might have been a better experience for me if you had nicer breasts but still kind of weird.”

      I just can’t even. You can’t see where this is all kinds of totally fecking wrong, can you? Her breasts are her own property, they don’t exist so that you can have a nice time finding them sexually attractive. Your response to her breasts and how she uses them is completely and utterly irrelevant. Believe it or not, women’s existence is not dependent on your penis’s opinion of them.

    • John’s buddy

      Also if you have great big cow breastes from all of that nursing you makes me lose my appetite, especially at the salad bar.

      • Anonomom

        Awww, your poor little sensibilities. I will just explain to my hungry baby that he cant eat because some grown-up cant be bothered to avert his eyes. And I dare say that watching you eat is probably not that attractive either, but I support your right to do it in public.

        • disqus_61tNDsHTqn

          They were really traumatized by it, see. So much that they have to bring it up irrelevantly in totally unrelated conversations, then invent fake buddies to back them up.

          For real, Johns and Joses, put in a little more effort next time. That wasn’t interesting or funny or even terribly offensive.

      • Isilzha

        Why do you think women should give a flying fuck what makes you lose your appetite?

    • Isilzha

      Good grief…women don’t exist solely for your approval and gratification.

  • Allie P

    The problem is conflating a personal choice to make your own baby food or refuse pain medications during labor or co-sleep with a moral good. If making your own baby food or cloth diapering works for you, fine. But it doesn’t make you a better parent. I was baffled, when my child was born, with the suggestion that it would be better for me to: 1) stop sleeping with pillows and blankets in my bed 2) kick my dog out of my bed, 3) kick my husband out of my bed, 4) dismantle my bed and put a bare, blanketless mattress on the ground — all so I could sleep with my baby, nevermind what kind of effect all of these measures might have on my own ability to sleep (I am a “burrower” who likes loads of soft pillows and duvets when I sleep). This was somehow supposed to be better for me and the baby.

    You know what my baby likes? her crib. You know what I like? my soft fluffy bed, with my husband and my dog. If my baby wakes up from a bad dream in the night and we go to comfort her, she begs to be put back in her crib. That’s where she WANTS to be.

    This is all a personal choice, which is fine. I do suspect a certain amount of cognitive dissonance going on when people go to such length to defend their personal choice (cloth diapering, baby food making, etc.) because in truth, they don’t like it, so they have to imagine some enormous personal benefit to make up for what a hassle it is.

  • Therese

    I am really baffled that some women apparently interpret AP to mean “no dads allowed to be involved”. Not sure where they are getting that from since even the Dr. Sears book devotes a chapter to how dads can be involved in AP and the only AP thing a dad couldn’t do is breastfeed and plenty of non-AP women breastfeed so don’t see why that should be an issue. And everyone talks about how bottlefeeding is such good bonding for dad, what if the baby hates bottles? Do you just force one on her everyday until she learns to like it? I did have one of my babies taking a bottle on a regular basis, then it wasn’t needed for a few days in a row, and now she refuses to take bottles unless she is starving. So annoying. Not sure if it’s worth the effort to try to get her used to bottles again or not if she so easily loses the ability to take them just by missing one for a few days.

    • rationalmom

      Why is there even a special chapter about dads if AP doesn’t create any differences in parental involvement?
      From an economic perspective, it’s glaringly obvious. One parent has to give the baby their attention, physical closeness and, most importantly, breastmilk, on demand 24/7 almost untill first grade. Inevitably this is going to be the mother. The other parent is going to have to work long hours to keep the roof over everybody’s heads with one income. End result: dad is effectively sidelined.

      • Therese

        I guess I don’t get what about AP stops dad from giving the baby attention and physical closeness? I mean, if anything, it seems like AP should encourage more physical closeness from dad because if you actually think baby needs literal 24/7 contact that is easier to do with two parents rather than one. The mom as SAHM/dad as provider model is one that is culturally ingrained and independent of AP. I guess I’m probably viewing it differently because I grew up in a religious conservative environment where SAHM mom is the norm but no one did AP, so it surprises me to see people blaming AP for SAHMs.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa

      Not sure where they are getting that from since even the Dr. Sears book devotes a chapter to how dads can be involved in AP

      Well isn’t that special. A whole chapter on how Dad CAN be involved?

      Swell of Dr. Sears to go out of his way like that.

      • CarolynTheRed

        He says “they can cook dinner or clean the house so mom can breastfeed”. At least, that’s what I got from it.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          Are they allowed to change diapers?

        • Therese

          It’s been four years since I read it, but I thought there was a part encouraging dad to babywear and tips on how to get a baby to stop crying. Anyway, my intention is not to defend AP and Dr. Sears, just trying to figure out how people interpret it to mean “no one but mom ever.” Especially seeing how APers idolize primitive societies, when in those societies having help from extended family in raising children is the norm.

          • Klain

            The hospital I went to suggested that fathers bathe the baby as their special interaction while the mothers were breastfeeding.

            I bought a blue ergo so that my husband could wear it as well – great for walking to preschool where there is no paved footpath and also for book sales where prams don’t fit.

    • S

      “And everyone talks about how bottlefeeding is such good bonding for dad, what if the baby hates bottles?”

      That’s a bummer for you guys if you’re needing to be away from your daughter, but i don’t understand your question. If breastfeeding isn’t necessary for moms to properly bond, as most people are saying, then of course bottlefeeding isn’t necessary for dads to bond. It’s just a nice opportunity.

      My son also refused bottles. Boy was i glad when he was on solids!

      • me

        None of my girls liked bottles. They would accept sippy cups or regular cups tho (as young as 6 weeks old – maybe would have earlier but we didn’t try it earlier). Not sure why more parents don’t try this.

        • Klain

          Probably because they’re told to start sippy cups at a more advanced age. My second refused a bottle (and a dummy – could hit the other end of the bassinet at a week old). She eventually took a sippy cup, but I didn’t think to try earlier. Perhaps I should try this with my 3 month old.

    • Charlotte

      It may not necessarily lead to dads get sidelined in theory, but in practice it often does. This is especially true when moms are the AP enthusiasts in the relationship and dad is not so on board with it. Like my friend who forced her husband to sleep on the couchfor weeks because she was as determined to cosleep as he was to have the baby in a crib.

    • Guestl

      Are there any other popular parenting books that contain a whole chapter on how Dads can be involved?
      Do you not see the problem with that?

      • Therese

        Yes, I can see why that is problematic, but I don’t know if it is fair to blame Dr. Sears for that. Just look how many people express concern about dad bonding if he doesn’t bottlefeed. It seems like Dr. Sears is addressing an actual concern that lots of people have and it’s sad that he needs to but there obviously seems to be a need for it with the number of dads who seem confused about how to get involved with baby care and the number of moms who don’t seem to understand dad should be an equal partner in baby care.

  • Dr Kitty

    I hate saying this, but babywearing in particular (and much of AP) is Ableist.

    It assumes everyone has the strength and physical ability to wear or carry their infant or child. It assumes that you have the manual dexterity to manage cloth diapers and the strength to manage extra loads of laundry. It assumes you can read and write and cook safely- not everyone can. It assumes that everyone CAN safely co-sleep- some people are on medications or suffer from conditions (such as nocturnal epilepsy or sleep apnoea) that would make co-sleeping dangerous.

    Disabled mothers are not bad mothers for using aids and appliances and products that keep their kids safe. If that is a swing , stroller, exersaucer, jars of food, cot or Pampers well, that’s ok.

    • KarenJJ

      And some level of controlled crying is a bit of a given when hearing impaired.

      • Dr Kitty

        My friend is Deaf, and she says that the best thing about it is that her husband is the one who gets up in the middle of the night and early mornings with the kids, while she sleeps on obliviously!

    • Lilly de Lure

      Thank you so much for this! I suffer from epilepsy (well controlled now fortunately) and am currently trying for my first. One of the first things I realised looking at some of the AP/mothering sites was that so many of the “must do” parenting things are simply not on the cards for me – co-sleeping, and baby wearing in particular could be potentially fatal for any child I were to have if I were to have a seizure at the wrong moment. Even the whether or not to breastfeed decision is complicated by any changes in medication I may require after giving birth (quite a common occurence). According to some sites though someone being unable to do these things (breastfeeding in particular) is viewed as either “bad/ lazy mother” or worse “shouldn’t have kids then”.

    • Alenushka

      I never thought of it that way. I have RA joint issues. Baby carrier passes certain poundage was not for me. And I need my sleep

  • INeverSaidThat

    What I don’t get is they’re all gung ho about child-led weaning…unless the mom isn’t ready and then it’s a “nursing strike”. Same thing with co-sleeping, baby wearing, potty training. The child clearly shows that they are ready to stop nursing, not be worn, or use the potty but the mom doesn’t want to give it up. The mom is encouraged to nurse more, withhold other foods/liquids and persevere until the baby submits. Same thing with potty training, the mom doesn’t want to believe that her 15 or 18 month old is growing up and ready to start using the toilet. Many moms didn’t want to give up their cute “fluff”, while others just didn’t want to acknowledge that their baby was really an independent toddler. Baby wearing is a great stroller alternative, esp if you have closely spaced kids, but at the same time they need to be able to see and explore their environment, interact with others, and not be permanently strapped to mom (or dad). I used cloth diapers, breastfed (from 4-14 mos depending on the kid), co-slept, used a sling mostly because I’m lazy and these things made my life easier. Once the baby was ready for the next stage we embraced it and followed their lead.

    • Therese

      Re: Nursing strikes, I know someone who gave their baby their first bottle at 6 months. Baby decides she loves bottles and is done with nursing. So mom exclusively pumps for baby for several months. When that stops working, mom gives baby formula. Baby doesn’t like formula that mom picked out. Mom goes out and buys every kind of formula, until she finds the one baby will eat. See, I kind of think that’s all crazy. If it was my baby, I would have been, uh, no, sorry, you are nursing, because I have other kids to take care of and I don’t have the time to exclusively pump, nor the money to spend buying every formula there is in order to find the one formula you will eat. So just nurse, damn it. So in other words, I don’t see a problem with moms not accepting nursing strikes as time to wean (to clarify I’ve only heard nursing strike used to refer to a baby less than one year refusing to nurse).

      • Sue

        SInce the introduction of solids is recommended from six months, it sounds like that baby had read the guideline and was ready to eat.

        • me

          But that wouldn’t eliminate the need for either breastmilk or formula. You introduce solids at 6mos, not switch over entirely at 6 mos. They need breastmilk/formula to be the majority of their diet for the first full year. After that, you may (not need, but *may*) replace formula or breastmilk with whole cow’s milk until age 2 (they still need some sort of milk in their diet). After age two milk (be it breastmilk/formula/cow’s milk) is optional, but if you do use cow’s milk you should switch to low fat/skim.

          So even if this was the baby’s way of showing interest in solids (not sure where you get that… seems more a case of bottle preference), that baby still needs a certain amount of milk (breastmilk or formula, 6 mos is too young for cow’s milk) every day.

    • me

      A nursing strike is when a baby suddenly refuses to nurse for some reason (usually teething or illness). Weaning is gradual and if the child is leading the weaning there won’t be any distress over it. Strikes OTOH are obviously distressing to the child (at least the one my oldest had at 9 months was).

      Other than that, I agree with what you have posted here. The most basic definition of AP would agree too; following the child’s cues and doing things when they are ready. No forcing, no pressuring, no rigid timetables/schedules. In its most simplistic form it actually makes sense. Those that take it to an extreme give it a bad name and make those of us who us AP techniques responsibly look like kooks.

      • Jessica

        Yeah, my son had a nursing strike at 3mos that lasted about 3 weeks. It was rough on both of us. I still don’t know what caused it, but I don’t believe for a second that a 3 month old was legitimately ready to wean. Every source I read on the matter said to absolutely not starve the baby or try to force him to nurse – we just used bottles and I was able to nurse him in his sleep or when he was just waking up from a nap. Then a switch flipped a few weeks later and he was back to nursing as normal. Now at 8 months he lunges toward my breast when he’s hungry which is actually pretty funny.

  • quadrophenic

    I roll my eyes at AP but I don’t have a problem with much of the individual ideas per se – extended breastfeeding? Whatever, I couldn’t even get a latch but be my guest, if the milk is there and your toddler wants it, fine by me. Cosleeping? I do think it can be dangerous but I know there are ways to minimize risks. Baby wearing? Great – nothing I hate more than being blocked by a stroller the size of a Mini Cooper when I’m trying to get through the store. Cloth diaper? I’m sure as hell not putting in the effort but be my guest, it’s great people are seeking greener options. Stay at home parent? If you can afford it and want to do it.

    My problem is with the people who 1) think they’re better than you for doing it their way and 2) people who think that not doing any of these things causes harm in some way. And I’d say 75% of the people I’ve met who follow AP fall into one of these categories. Not that they are bad people or anything. But do it because it’s what works for you, not because you think not breastfeeding is going to make your kid dumb, fat, and sick, or because you think the kid will be brain damaged from cry it out or won’t bond if they’re in daycare.

    And I don’t have a problem with SAHMs but I do have a problem with making a woman’s identify dependent solely upon her role as a mother. Women should feel free to be as devoted to their kids as necessary but everyone should be encouraged to do something purely for yourself now and then – whether it’s working, volunteering, book clubs or whatever. Teach your kids how to have a balanced life by giving yourself some balance.

    • suchende

      It’s a lot like unmedicated childbirth: the harder, more painful, more unpleasant something is, the more you seek meaning. The more you struggle with AP, the more you need to believe it’s superior to “traditional” parenting.

  • GoodDaySunshine

    This is hard to swallow since you yourself stated you left your practice to raise your 4 children.
    Connecting attachment parenting to natural birthing is a load of hooey. I know plenty of mothers and have read of celebrity mothers, who AP and didn’t ‘suffer’ through natural childbirth.

    • Box of Salt

      GoodDay Sunshine, “Now I’m scrubbing the floors with the baby on me, but that’s because same said baby is teething and just drew in permanent marker on my floor.”

      Sorry, Sunshine, I have to ask: why did you leave a permanent marker within reach of a teething baby?

      • Isramommy

        Because sometimes that’s how the real world works. My 22 month old is also teething… good luck trying to keep her out of every possible age-inappropriate item in the house. We do our best, but sometimes kids get hold of things they shouldn’t. Let’s not judge, eh?

        • Box of Salt

          Isramommy, I’m not judging you. We’ve repainted parts of walls at my house. I am also parent to children best described as “climbers.”

          I am asking a direct question to GoodDay Sunshine.

          • Washable markers are only mostly washable, but yeah I kept permanent markers stowed in an inaccessible location.

          • KarenJJ

            That worked well for me with baby number 1. Childproofing for the next one was more problematic because kid number 1 could reach and get to all the difficult spots that kid number 2 can’t get too.

          • me

            Yeah… childproofing is tough with #3. At this point I’ve just asked the other two to try not to kill the baby, lol (TIC of course).

          • Sue

            That’s called teamwork, Karen!

      • Siri

        A) for him to gnash on and b) in hopes that he would draw a Groucho Marx stosh on himself. Yay Groucho!

      • GoodDaySunshine

        I didn’t, I have a climber and a husband who tends to forget. Hence the random phone calls on his cell to people in his phone book.

    • ratio

      I recently discussed parenting styles with my husband’s grandmother, who is 94 years old. When I explained the concept of attachment parenting to her, she thought it was absolutely nuts. When she raised my FIL, she had no washing mashine or vacuum cleaner. Every single household task had to be done completely by hand. This meant she put her baby in a wooden playpen most of the time, while she was nearby doing all that work and looking after her older children. She couldn’t possibly run over there for every little peep he made. Whenever she was tackling a major task, such as scrubbing floors or the weekly washing day, her mother or a neighbour would take the baby home with her for the day, and feed it -gasp- powdered milk. This parenting ‘style’ was the norm in those days.
      Nonetheless, my FIL (and the majority of his generation) has grown into a kind man, a productive member of society and an excellent father for my husband.
      Dr Sears really pulled the concept of an idealised ‘primitive’ past when all babies were raised ‘AP-style’ out of his you-know-what.

      • Charlotte

        Someone once told my grandma that my Dad was going to grow into the shape of his playpen because she never let him out of there as in infant.

      • GoodDaySunshine

        That was the norm in the US and other developed countries. My cousin who has routes back to Ghana carries her babies on her back so they are with her while she is doing her chores. Granted she isn’t scrubbing floors.
        But with new eras come new ideas of parenting.

        • ratio

          Your argumentation is faulty. Don’t you think that the way your father turned out has more to do with daily beatings from a drunk parent, than with the lack of AP-style parenting?
          I’m not saying that kids shouldn’t have rights, that they should be left in playpens 24/7 or that they can be used as boxing balls by drunk parents.
          What I am saying is that the concept of a ‘noble savage’ past where children were kept skin-to-skin and on the breast 24 hours a day, and as a consequence turned into perfect adults, has never been a reality. Dr Sears made that up, and now holds it up as the impossible standard for moms everywhere.

          Just relax. You can in fact put your baby down in a safe place while you do some chores around the house without turning him into a sociopath.

          • GoodDaySunshine

            I honestly believe that if my grandmother had practiced AP, he wouldn’t of been beaten and she would of stood up to my grandfather. My father also believes this and despite her being his mother, has told me many times in his life that he never felt like she even cared for him. She never even said “I love you” to him until she almost died.

  • There is an extreme version of AP found particularly in online communities that bears a fair bit of resemblance to what Dr. Amy describes, but it is a far cry from the advice you’ll find in the Sears Baby Book, which I consider the best resource out there for babyrearing.

    The idea that AP is expensive makes me laugh. Relatives found themselves puzzled and flummoxed when asking about a baby registry and so on. They were used to other mainstream relatives having all kinds of items listed for the “nursery” and so on. Cribs, swings, walkers, on and on and on. We got a ring sling and a padded carrier with more structure, straps, etc.; and that was about it. Plus the Dr. Sears book. That’s it, cheap as can be and no crib or “nursery” that needs to be heated separately or any of that. (Our two year old now sleeps on her own bed, but in our room.)

    I am the SAHD while my wife works full time. She got free use of a breastmilk pump from WIC, and we came ever so close to never having to supplement with formula (we bought a can when she had to work extra hours one week, and ended up using three of the little scoops total; he is now eight months old and that looks like all we will ever have used). AP means he can crawl off and play on his own when he likes, but if he wants the comfort of being picked up and held, he gets it–from his father during the workweek. (Yet he still prefers his mother when it comes right down to it, showing that there are some biological connections–“nature”–that are stronger than what “nurture” can change.)

    This blog pushes the issue of mortality risk, and rightly so if the facts are there and not being exaggerated. So why scoff at a philosophy which has probably no tenet more central than a focus on breastfeeding? There’s no better way to keep your baby healthy, optimally developed, and with the best chance of living to see his or her first birthday and beyond.

    • Mom of 2

      “AP means he can crawl off and play on his own…but if he wants the comfort of being picked up and held, he gets it”

      I’m baffled. You had to read a Dr Sears book to come up with that? That’s just life with a baby, no parenting philosophy needed. Really, Dr Sears is brilliant for coming up with a way to make money by telling parents to be…parents. Honestly, do you think holding a baby is reserved for AP?

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I have been always fascinated to learn how we have done things like AP and co-sleeping. For example, what others call co-sleeping, we called “Had him sleep in our room because his room was right next to his brother’s and we didn’t want him to wake up his brother during the night”

        But if you pay money to buy Dr Sears’s book, you get to put the name “co-sleeping” on it.

        • Klain

          I thought co-sleeping was sleeping in the same bed, not just sleeping in the same room?

        • Bombshellrisa

          Apparently my great grandparents and their parents did it too-“co sleeping” and extended breastfeeding-but back then it was part of living in poverty as immigrants. Little did they know that they were actually trendsetters for future parenting styles!

      • I don’t know what Alan thinks but, my sister seems to have the idea that love and attention are reserved for A/P. She said to me recently that she wants to have her kids with her at all times unlike “most parents who leave their kids in a crib to cry all day”. No wonder she thinks A/P is superior– she honestly belives non A/P parents are guilty of neglect.

        • fiftyfifty1

          The fad in baby raising actually used to be that your baby needed to spend a good chunk of time alone amusing itself in a crib or playpen in order for proper intellectual and emotional development. The self-styled baby raising experts of the day wrote books discouraging mothers from immediately attending to crying. Children were to be fed on schedule etc. My husband’s grandmother raised all her children under this philosophy and all turned out to be lovely people. There are many many many ways of raising a baby right.

      • Ah, to live in a world with no CIO…Must be nice!

        • Siri

          Nice for whom? Ah, to live in a world with no smug know-it-all self-styled ‘perfect parents’, looking with pity at those lesser humans who don’t follow some jumped-up money-grabbing guru. Are you related to Dr Sears, Alan? Or are you expecting a legacy from his estate?

          • “Jumped-up”?

            I have a dabbler’s interest in linguistics, and I am not familiar with that term. Is it a regionalism? What does it mean?

          • Over inflated ego showing arrogance. Not someone with people skills.

            Is one easily found definition of “jumped up” (The one above it was even more derogatory)

            Probably derived from the old fashioned, snobbish put-down refering to someone as a “counter-jumper” – someone who thought material advancement from behind a shop counter could cancel out their lack of “class”/breeding.

          • Interesting, thanks. Is this British?

    • Mom of 2

      I’m still laughing about this…just picturing my daughter crawling up to me, reaching her arms out and me saying “sorry, honey, I can’t pick you up because I don’t do AP!” or “sorry sweetie, I’m not sure what to do, I haven’t read the Dr Sears book!”

    • Guestl

      Classic AP response. Backhanded sneering at “mainstream” relatives (because none of them ever successfully raised a child), glorification of breastfeeding, some mumbo-jumbo about “biological connections” and “nature”, and conflation of normal parenting practices (comforting a child) with AP values.
      Your boy is 8 months old? Come back and talk to me when he’s twenty. Then, and only then, will I take your “best babyrearing” advice.

      • I guess you missed where he is my fourth child. The oldest is a teenager.

        And no, it is only if we set the bar fairly low that I would say any of those mainstream relatives successfully raised a child.

        • Guestl

          Alan, the only thing remotely interesting about you is that you’re a Dead. Otherwise, you’re full of shit. Your kid is 13. Talk to me when he/she is 20. THEN you can pontificate about how great you are as a parent.

          • All right, less than seven years to go! W00t

          • Guestl

            Twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two, nineteen, it doesn’t matter — pick an age at which your child is culturally no longer considered a child, but an adult. You can celebrate your parenting choices all you want, but if your kid grows up to be Ted Bundy, then perhaps your parenting methods weren’t the greatest. Then again, maybe they were; that’s the rub, isn’t it? You can make all the right moves, and your kid can still turn out to be a dysfunctional, emotionally incompetent tool.

          • True dat! But you can also smoke and still live to 94, you can stunt birth VBAC triplets in a remote mountain cabin and be fine, or go to the hospital with a low risk pregnancy and get a stillbirth. But of course that does not make all our choices and actions irrelevant.

        • So in your opinion all mainstream parents are miserable failures by your standards.

          Clearly, you are not troubled by hubris – but with four children and a fair way to go before they are all adults, perhaps you should be, a little.

          One does wonder what your criteria for success is, exactly. And whether the entire world will agree that your adult children are far more perfect than any before or since, and the whole credit for that is down to you.

          Most of us turn out fairly OK down to our own efforts, and sometimes in spite of “parenting styles” as much as because of them.

          Are we to understand that you regard yourself as imperfect in important ways because you did not have your children’s advantages?

          • Very clever line of attack there, kudos. But yes, sadly that’s true. I could have been as a god among mortals. Instead I am more like a mere demigod. 😉

  • Whatever name I used last time

    I never really saw AP like that, but then I suppose I’m not a “real” AP because I didn’t take it to extremes (like 24/7 baby wearing), had c-sections and formula fed because that’s what was best for all concerned. Yep, now that I put it like that, I definitely don’t qualify. We need a new term for sensible, sensitive parenting without extremism & martyrdom.

    • An Actual Attorney

      I think we just call that parenting.

      Also, love your avitar.

  • AS far as I remember it, women in those days were meant to focus on being good WIVES and homemakers, defined by their husbands, with the children just part of the window dressing of the “happy family”. One of her tasks was to make sure that children did not disturb daddy. Not sure we were allowed to have vaginas, but if we did they were certainly regarded as belonging to men. The obsession with vaginas came as a reaction to that, and it is fascinating that ideas that were liberating have been distorted to this even more suffocating version of a feminine mystique. Like women walked out of one cage, and after a brief glance at freedom straight into another. AT least back then women could rebel by not caring too much about the cleanliness of their floors and would only be regarded as sluttish – now if you do not much care about a perfect birth you are damned as unenlightened and uniformed, a poor sheeple.

    • KarenJJ

      And also labelled a ‘bad mother’, destining our children to a future of autism, immune system problems and poor mental health.

      I wonder what the mental health of some AP mums is like. I can imagine trying very hard to prevent depression in their kids when they’ve suffered depression themselves and worrying about the guilt implications of ‘not doing everything they can’.

      • fiftyfifty1

        Yes, and even more so with anxiety. The idea that being “securely attached” must prevent feeling anxious.

    • Mrs. W

      To that I proudly proclaim “Baaaaa!”…I loved my anti-thesis to a perfect vaginal delivery of a child, a perfect, per-labour cesarean delivery!

    • lacrima

      “Not sure we were allowed to have vaginas, but if we did they were certainly regarded as belonging to men.”
      Love it.

  • Alenushka

    The obsession with homemade baby food a badge of good mothering is really funny to me. My mom made all my food because there was no baby food or very limited kind of baby food in Soviet Union. The way she made the baby food is the way I made mine. No fancy books, workshops, steamers and machines. Just a fork or a handheld blender. We simply pureed what we ate and gave it to the baby. We used jars when traveled.

    • Phascogale

      I’m not a huge fan of the jars. They are expensive but great if you are out. The desert type ones can be quite nice ie gels and fruit type but the meat and 3 veg all taste like cardboard and there isn’t much of a taste difference regardless of which variety you get. I’m also the laziest mother in the world and from just after 6 months of age (after a couple of weeks of puree) I would give my baby the same meal as us but chopped up ie rice with meat and vegies and let them feed themselves. Now it’s called baby led weaning.

      • Awesomemom

        Yeah we did that too. I am a baby food hipster because I did it before it was a “thing”.

    • auntbea

      I tried to make my own baby food. My baby wouldn’t eat it. I fail.

      • KarenJJ

        Me too. I ended up spreading it onto toast ‘soldiers’ and they happily ate it then.

    • LukesCook

      I made baby food which wasn’t necessarily the same as ours, but I’m a keen cook and food snob, so it was great fun for me. In fact this Disqus account was created that time, hence the screen name.

    • Gene

      I made all our own baby food. Took a bunch of fruit and veggies, cooked it (steamed frozen veggies, baked fruit, whatever), then froze it in little ice cubes and stored in snack sized baggies. Took me two weekends over the entire 3-4 months my kids ate purees until they were on regular table food. And, honestly, I did it because I’m CHEAP! Those stupid little jars are WAY too expensive. I already had the food processor. And we tend to make most of our food from scratch anyway (spouse is a total food snob). I wouldn’t recommend it if you have no freezer space or a blender/processor. But totally worth it otherwise.

      • Sue

        I did the ice-cube thing too. A balanced meal was a group of cubes of mixed colors.

  • slandy09

    I consider myself to be an AP mother, but I am not the parent you describe here. I had a medically necessary 37-week induction with an epidural. I use cloth diapers. I breastfeed. I do wear my daughter when appropriate, but I also let her play on the floor too because I think it’s important. We did quite a bit of bedsharing when my daughter was first born because it was the only way anyone was going to get sleep. We have been gently transitioning her to sleeping in her own bed. Oh, and I believe in vaccination too.

    To me, attachment parenting is a philosophy that has practices that are recommended…if they work for everyone involved. Even Dr. Bill Sears has said that the best place for baby to sleep is where everyone gets the most sleep. Too many of the hardcore AP-ers are missing the point entirely and giving the rest of us who are more balanced in our parenting a bad name. I even started a group on facebook for the sane AP moms because the original AP group was filled with crazies who let their kids run the show and judged anyone who wanted to gently transition their babies into their own beds. There was even a mother who said that her baby slept very well in her own bed, but she wanted to start bed-sharing! I may or may not have hit my head on the keyboard a few times…

    • slandy09

      And by the way, I should add that my husband is very involved with parenting our daughter. He is not a baby-sitter, he is a father doing his part. However, during the newborn days it seemed like she ONLY wanted me, but I guess that’s newborns for ya’. She loves her daddy now, by the way 🙂

    • Gene

      I don’t understand, though, why this is even attachment parenting, as if AP is a goal we strive towards. I BF’d both my kids for over a year, used cloth diapers, wore my kids on occasion, had a co-sleeper (I won’t bed share ever as I’m the one who sees the dead babies after a co-sleeping death), etc. But I never considered it as “attachment parenting”. It was just parenting.

      AP isn’t some ideal where we do whatever of the tenets work best for us.

  • Charlotte

    My husband is extremely grateful that I allow him to feed, play with, and take care of the kids whenever he wants. He says he has so many coworkers who are carrying a silent pain around with them because their wives won’t let them touch the kids, and insist they can’t do anything right when it comes to childcare. They feel like outsiders looking in. The fact that he thinks I “allow” him to feed his own child as if I am some kind of gatekeeper says volumes about how entrenched this idea is that mom controls the kids and dad needs to stay back unless invited in.

    • I don’t have a creative name

      That makes me so sad. 🙁 Hubs has always been an involved dad and our kids worship him. I couldn’t imagine robbing them of that.

      • The Bofa on the Sofa

        I never like the description of “involved dad.” If you aren’t involved, you are not a dad.

        • I don’t have a creative name

          Can’t argue with that.

    • JC

      Yes, yes, yes! I know so many AP moms whose husbands were just almost completely left out of the equation once baby was born. “Thanks for the sperm, honey. I’ll take it from here.” That’s a joke, but it really is true. I hate how AP parenting dismisses the dad. I told my husband one day that now that I have had kids, I realize if I had never married I don’t think I would have had kids on my own. It is so incredibly hard to raise kids. I never fully understood the mental, physical and financial toll it can take. Having said that, I wouldn’t change a thing. I have 2 kids and I want at least one more. But my husband does too. We’ve made all the decisions together as a team. I breastfed/pumped until the mastitis and clogged ducts got to be too painful, then I switched to formula. He has been supportive every step of the way. In discounting the father’s help/role in parenting, everyone—mom, dad and kids—miss out on so much.

      • I make sure to keep a pumped bottle on hand so my husband can be part of the bonding that comes through feeding. He enjoys the snuggle time too! Our daughter (at six months) already knows that her needs will be met- even when mommy isn’t around.

      • mollyb

        Very true. One of my close friends is big into AP and because she’s my only other SAHM friend, I often go on outings with her and her AP group. One CONSTANT topic of conversation is how their husbands hate this or that aspect. My friend the other day was telling me how her husband was looking forward to them being able to cuddle and watch movies together in bed again once their two kids finally move to their own bed. My friend added “I didn’t tell him this but I plan on keeping them in our bed another two years at least.” All the other AP moms laughed knowingly. It’s like Dads are just their to donate the sperm and earn the paycheck.

        • JC

          When I hear stories like this I can’t see how these couples will stay married. At some point, and rightly so, the husband is going to get fed up with that crap. And I can’t blame him. My kids were in our room for the first year, but not in our bed. When they moved to their own rooms, my husband I breathed a collective sigh of relief. It was nice to be able to read, watch TV, or whatever we wanted to do without being afraid of waking up the baby.

          And why isn’t the marital relationship more important to these women? I have news for them, kids grow up, go to college, move away and get families/lives of their own. When the kids are gone, guess who is left? The husband and wife. You had better like each other and you had better work on your relationship or there isn’t going to be a relationship left at that point.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          When my wife and I got married, our flower girl, my niece, gave us a needlepoint wallhanging (ok, her mom made it) that says, “The Goal of Marriage is Not to Think Alike, But to Think Together”

          After 20 years, that still hangs on the wall of our bedroom, and I look at it still a couple times a week. It is the foundation of our marriage.

          Now that we have kids, we say the same thing: the goal of parenting is not to think alike, but to think together. We are a team in everything we do. But then again, I LOVE my wife, and I WANT her to be part of everything. I have no interest in doing it only my way, because I know that by working together, we do it better. We each have our preferences of how we do certain things, but that’s what happens. I trust her enough to not worry about whether she is doing it wrong or right, knowing that we are only doing it differently.

          By working as a team, not only have the kids not driven us apart, they have brought us closer together as a couple. No, we don’t do all the things we used to do, but now we do a lot of other things together that we didn’t before.

    • DiomedesV

      Whatever. These kinds of neurotic, controlling behaviors don’t emerge overnight. Maybe men should be more careful about how who they marry/impregnate.

      • fiftyfifty1

        “These kinds of neurotic, controlling behaviors don’t emerge overnight.”
        Except in cases of postpartum OCD. But that’s a medical condition.

    • PoopDoc

      My husband is the primary caregiver. Which is great. He is way more patient than me. And better at the house keeping stuff. Frankly I’m amazed he was willing to move in with me when we first met, my house was such a mess…

      • LukesCook

        Mine too, although I don’t think much of his housekeeping skills – fortunately we have a cleaner. That doesn’t stop me from giving him instructions on how to care for our son, but that’s just because I’m bossy. And just because I’ve told him to do something or not do something doesn’t by any stretch mean that he’ll comply if he thinks differently. I’m a little bemused by these passive fathers who are so easily prohibited.

    • Gene

      When I am working and people ask who is watching my kids (when I am working on weekends or overnight), they’ll either say, “How nice that Dad is babysitting” or “How wonderful that your husband is willing to watch the kids”. Really??? It’s called PARENTING! When I’m home with the kids, I’m not “babysitting” them! Why is he? It ticks us both off, the assumption that a father cannot parent his children.

  • R T

    I have a high needs baby! He screams murder if you put him down for a second! It makes using the bathroom so unpleasant! It doesn’t matter if its me or a complete stranger on the street he wants to be held 24/7! It’s exhausting! He’s only four months so hopefully he’ll grow out of it! Lugging a teenager around on my hip would be very challenging!

    • Charlotte

      My firstborn was like that! Thankfully, she outgrew it around 9 months adjusted age. At the time I actually thought she was an easy baby because she wasn’t screaming for 8 solid hours every day like my brother did as an infant. Then I had my second who doesn’t cry much and is content to smile and coo in her bassinet while mommy gets stuff done and I realize how hard my first was by comparison.

    • AnonHere

      If he has been like this since early on (like 10-14 days old), then he is probably colic. The colic should be passing soon, so now he just might be overtired. The window might be opening to get him to self-soothe a little more. My daughter was colic, and we had to hold her pretty much around the clock for about 4 months. I never, ever thought it would end – but it did! Good luck.

    • theadequatemother

      My baby was like that too. He was 6 or 7 mo before I could leave him on a play mat with a few toys and be 10-15 feet away cooking or peeing with the bathroom door open. The only thing that saved my sanity was 1) going back to work at 7.5 mo and 2) forcing him to nap during the day so I could get a break.

      Seriously, he was the only kid that needed to be held during the entire mom and baby fitness class. I got killer at doing squats and lunges tho.

    • KarenJJ

      I had one like this. It was exhausting. She didn’t sleep much in the day either and was really difficult to get to sleep. She’s been full on since she was born and I’m finally getting some respite now she’s happily at kindy and playing longer, more involved games. Returning to work and using daycare saved my sanity.

      I actually got concerned enough to take her to a child psychologist (her tantrums seemed to be on the extreme side of tantrums) and after seeing us for a few sessions and observing her he said that it didn’t look like autism or anything too far out of normal but that she did appear to be very bright. So we’re just hoping she’s got a good brain on her and that the stubbornness she showed with her tantrums (which she’s mostly outgrown now too) translates to being a determined adult… So I wonder if some of these high needs babies are just more aware and more worried and just more of everything.

      My second was much more calmer, thankfully.

    • Renee Martin

      I have one of those “high needs” babies too. People think I made her this way by wearing her, cosleeping, and BFing, but thats untrue- I started doing those things *because* she was so needy and impossible to soothe. I did none of that “AP” stuff with my DS, and he is fine, but that wasn’t working with her.

      She will be a year old next month, and finally, finally, this month, she has started playing with toys, so now she doesn’t sit and scream all day. Last month she became very mobile, which helped too. She is still BF to sleep, but we are working on this one. DH can put her to sleep too, so it’s getting better. I will say, I never thought I would have a kid like this!

    • INeverSaidThat

      My oldest was very high needs like that too. He outgrew it the more mobile he got, but he was unnaturally attached to me. I breastfed and carried him around out of necessity as he truly did not know how to self sooth. He did have some issues as he got older, but play therapy helped a ton. He’s also extremely intelligent and even though I held him a lot he hit milestones very early…crawled at 6 mos and walked at 9. I always say just to follow your baby’s cues, they’re little people and have unique emotional needs. I followed my kids’ cues in breastfeeding, co-sleeping (some hated it, others were cuddlers), baby wearing (middle kid preferred his swing) and now they are very mature and independent kids (ages 4-12). My sister pretty much ignored her babies, they turned out needy and nervous because they never feel like she’s really paying attention (she’s not…). So extra work the first year sometimes makes the rest a bit easier.

  • Mom of 2

    Bravo! I have always resented the idea that the mothers arms/breasts/vagina are “magical” and that she is the only one who can comfort/feed the baby, and other care is substandard. It reduces women to breeding machines and alienates the baby from other people who want to be part of the baby’s life (dad, grandparents, babysitters etc). The vaginal mystique is the PERFECT term for it. I never realized how eerily similar it is to the feminine mystique. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant comparison Dr Amy.

    • Josephine

      Alienating is probably the best descriptor I can think of for many AP “commandments”. I realize perhaps I’m at the other extreme because half an hour after I rolled out of the OR from a c-section, my son’s grandmothers/aunties/uncles were holding him and cooing in his tiny little face, but this obsession with the mother being so important that it eclipses anybody else disgusts me.

      I can’t even count how many posts I’ve seen on various parenting forums and the like that make allusions to how breastfeeding is so great because “I want my baby to only want me/like me best”, etc. Or using breastfeeding as an excuse to keep the baby away from anyone else who might want to hold him or her.

      Obviously it’s the parents’ prerogative to let other people hold the baby, but personally I didn’t want to encourage my own kid to cling to me 24/7 and not form connections with family and friends.

      • KarenJJ

        Sarah Blaffer-Hrdy’s book “Mothers and Others” was a real eye-opener for me. Bowlby’s research on “attachment” also took in the day’s attitudes to a mother’s role. Looking at the animal kingdom and even amongst primates there is a large range of care-models for children. Using other care, siblings, aunties, fathers is not ‘unnatural’ at all. Especially amongst humans where grandmothers live for such a long time after their ability to have children has finished. More ‘natural’ to leave the kids with grandma and head out to get food,

        • The Bofa on the Sofa

          More ‘natural’ to leave the kids with grandma and head out to get food,

          I know that when my or my wife’s folks are in town, we use it as an opportunity to get dinner…

        • LukesCook

          Isn’t that postulated as one of the reasons menopause evolved in human females? A woman’s descendants are more likely to thrive and survive if one or more female relatives are available to care for them in infancy and childhood without the distraction of their own young children, especially if they should lose their own mothers in child birth.

          As a matter of interest, what is the pattern in pre-industrial societies of mortality rates in adult women? One would almost expect them to flatten off or even reverse for a period of time as women pass child bearing age, and then increase more steeply again towards actual old age.

    • Lisa from NY

      “I have always resented the idea that the mothers arms/breasts/vagina are “magical” and that she is the only one who can comfort/feed the baby, and other care is substandard. ”

      OMG! My sil and bil, sadly, are caring for a retarded girl who is now in her 20s. She needs 24-hour care, and really belongs in a home, but they won’t consider it because the care will be lacking.

      While true, my husband has to listen to his brother complain to him every day about his miserable life. He can never go on vacation.

  • Lisa from NY

    “The vaginal mystique requires a small army of service providers — childbirth educators, doulas, midwives, and lactation consultants — who charge hundreds or even thousands of dollars for their services.”

    I have a neighbor who is tight for money, but feels she must spend every spare dollar on natural remedies, that would be better used on fixing her car.

    • GiddyUpGo123

      I once worked with a guy who criticized the hell out of me for buying a new laptop and then spent three grand on a machine that, if you stick your feet in it, will cure every medical problem you have from acne to cancer. It’s amazing the power that woo has for some people.

    • Sue

      Those woo-remedy pedlars leave Big Pharma in the shade for profiteering. A local homeopath sells little bottles of magic water and/or alcohol at $18 for a little 20ml dopper bottle – which works out an astounding $900 per litre!

      • quadrophenic

        Especially when they don’t have to worry about stupid costs like research and FDA approvals. Pure profit!

        • Sue

          True – or even active ingredients!

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Or quality control

            I’ve asked before, how would it be possible to determine if a claimed homeopathic remedy is actually what it is claimed to be or merely water?

  • guest

    I have to disagree with the point about money…uncomplicated vaginal birth without pain relief costs less money. Breastfeeding, even with expensive lactation consultant visits, costs less money than formula feeding. Cloth diapering costs less money than disposables. Making your own baby food costs less money than jars from the store. For many women (though not all), staying at home with baby costs less money than going back to work. Co-sleeping costs less money than having to buy a crib. Baby-wearing slings cost less money than swings, bouncers, strollers, etc. I agree that attachment parenting is right only if it works for mom, but I don’t find it convincing that proponents are only in it for the money; because for most of these points, they aren’t seeing any and they even end up saving more money for mom.

    • Mrs. W

      Somebody should introduce you to the concept of opportunity cost….

      • Sophia

        The lifetime care of a child with cerebral palsy or neurological damage is more expensive than analgesia and c-section for MANY women.

        That’s why those lawsuits rake in so much more $$ than wrongful death.

        On BF-ing. As someone who breastfed and pumped because I work. I spent close to $1000 on a pump, accessories, nursing bras, pumping bras, storage containers etc. I get that I could have hand stitched all of these from yoga mats to save money, but see the point above about opportunity cost. I’m glad my son was breastfed but it didn’t save us any money.

        • sophia

          this was meant as a reply to guest…

        • Amy

          I think her point was that for a lot of people it CAN save money…case in point, people like myself who are not working in jobs that pay more than the cost of daycare and gas. Not that breastfeeding automatically saves EVERYONE money.

    • Gene

      Funerals for an infant who died after being smothered to death in an unsafe adult bed is less expensive than raising the same child to adulthood…

    • Alenushka

      Cloths diapers are not less. You are either paying a company to wash them or you are using detergent and utilities to wash your own. Slings can and do lead to severe back injuries in women that require visits to Ortho, PT and rehab. Bed sharing can lead to the suffocation deaths. Child’s life is priceless but the therapy all member of the family will have to have for years has a price. Unless mom wants to be with a baby 24/7 like a praised cow, there is need for a pump. Good pump is $$$$. I used LC and it not a trivial cost. You assume that mom”s wages do not matter but they do. If mom makes a good wage, every minute she spends scraping shit of the diaper instead of working, means wage loss, lifetime income loss and retirement fund loss.

      • me

        Well, let’s not go off the deep end in either direction. Cloth vs disposable is probably very similar in cost if you factor in utilities/washing service (of course, someone will inevitably pipe up about EC, but whatever). I’m not sure about slings leading to “severe back injuries” (sorry I gotta LOL at that one). A sling is something to purchase, but no more expensive than a bouncy chair. Unless you are being totally reckless with bed sharing, suffocation is pretty rare, and there is evidence that SIDS is higher when the baby is in a crib in another room, but I don’t think people are motivated to co-sleep to save money so much as to save sanity. I have a good pump that I got for $30, so $10 per kid, and if you are a SAHM and aren’t having supply issues, you really don’t need the expensive pumps (they seem more a status thing at that point). Never saw a LC, but the hospital I delivered my last child at offered free lactation clinics (obviously if you experience an uncommon complication you may need more help). Of course mom’s wages matter, but in some situations mom would be spending so much on childcare that she would be bringing home pennies per hour. At that point I’d rather scrape shit out of my own kid’s diaper than bust my ass 40 hours a week in order to (barely) pay for someone else to scrape shit out of my kid’s diaper. But that way of expressing it reveals something: I suppose if you see staying home with the kids as “scraping shit of the diaper instead of working” then you should probably be working…. just sayin’

        • GuestB

          Aw, c’mon. Now someone can’t even say “scraping sh!t off a diaper” without being judged? That is what it is, isn’t it? Would you feel better if they had said “lovingly removing that precious excrement that my ever so precious offspring created in their mystical GI tract”? Would that make them a better parent? I guess in your world, it would.
          My apologies if that last line was sarcasm and I just didn’t get it.

          • JC

            I only used cloth diapers for a few months and I laughed at the “scraping shit off a diaper.” That is totally what it is. I felt cloth diapers were just too much extra work for me. The pre-cleaning (scraping shit), washing, and drying were so time consuming. It probably would save me a little money, but it’s just not worth it to me.

          • Alenushka

            I was very lucky to work from home, then part-time then full time. And yes, I met many moms whose backs were ruined by slings., And my wages matter. I paid company to wash diapers with first kid and with the next one I did not even bother. My pump was $300, Nursing bras that feel and look good are $25. Bed sharing kills. There many studies and cases. Sharing a room is totally different thing. You know when sanity returned to me? When my kid was night weaned at 8 months and moved to his own room. Suddenly, we all slept better and did more fun things during the day.

          • Alenushka

            If you want to stay home and be with your child 24/7 and out AP everyone one, do that. It is free country. But it does not make you a better mother. The long term outcomes kids brought by SAHMs and WOHM are the same and it has been shows by several large studies in US and UK. It is not what you do but how you do it. There bad moms and good moms and has nothing to do with being a SAHM, WOHM AP, or not.

          • An Actual Attorney

            Since the studies show that kids of lesbians turn out better, I claim the SAH/WOH doesn’t matter — just if you are a gay woman.

            [Note: while the best available studies so far seem to show that lesbians’ kids do better in the long run, I think the general understanding is that those studies are really capturing the difference between wanted and planned for kids vs. possibly unwanted ones. ]

          • Lisa from NY

            Can you show me the studies? I am female, married to male, but curious about kids adopted by same-sex couples.

          • LukesCook
          • An Actual Attorney

            I was mostly being snarky — the study I was thinking of is about donor-conceived kids.

            http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Gartell-Bos-NLLFS-Peds-Jun-2010.pdf

            OBJECTIVES: The objective of this study was to document the psychological adjustment of adolescents who were conceived through donor insemination by lesbian mothers who enrolled before these offspring were born in the largest, longest running, prospective, longitudinal study of same-sex–parented families.

            METHODS: Between 1986 and 1992, 154 prospective lesbian mothers volunteered for a study that was designed to follow planned lesbian families from the index children’s conception until they reached adulthood. Data for the current report were gathered through interviews and questionnaires that were completed by 78 index offspring when they were 10 and 17 years old and through interviews and Child Behavior Checklists that were completed by their mothers at corresponding times. The study is ongoing, with a 93% retention rate to date.

            RESULTS: According to their mothers’ reports, the 17-year-old daughters and sons of lesbian mothers were rated significantly higher in social, school/academic, and total competence and significantly lower in social problems, rule-breaking, aggressive, and externalizing problem behavior than their age-matched counterparts in Achenbach’s normative sample of American youth. Within the lesbian family sample, no Child Behavior Checklist differences were found among adolescent offspring who were conceived by known, as-yet-unknown, and permanently unknown donors or between offspring whose mothers were still together and offspring whose mothers had separated.

            CONCLUSIONS: Adolescents who have been reared in lesbian-mother families since birth demonstrate healthy psychological adjustment. These findings have implications for the clinical care of adolescents and for pediatricians who are consulted on matters that pertain to same-sex parenting. Pediatrics 2010;126:000

            You can get quite a bit of research compiled at williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu.

          • me

            I’m not sure who you were responding to (it says you were responding to yourself, lol). I never said I was a “better” mother than anyone. I also never said I was with my kids 24/7 (funny you go there when you don’t want to be put down). I never said that my style would produce superior children (I’m actually of the mindset that what we do as parents has precious little effect on kids in the long run. I think most of us over-parent). And I don’t try to “out AP” anyone. Remember it was your post that was pretty derogatory towards SAHMs (“praised cows”, being tied to baby 24/7, “scraping shit out of diapers instead of working” etc). If you are so sensitive, maybe don’t throw stones.

          • anonomom

            > Bed sharing kills. There many studies and cases.

            Citation? Unsafe bedsharing can kill as much as unsafe cribs, that doesn’t mean that there is no such thing as safe bedsharing.

          • me

            “Bed sharing kills.”

            Really? I have three kids that would disagree with you. Oh. They must be zombies, lol.

            “You know when sanity returned to me? When my kid was night weaned at 8 months and moved to his own room. Suddenly, we all slept better and did more fun things during the day.”

            And I can understand that. Fortunately I sleep very well with a baby in the bed. I get about 6-8 hours a night and feel rested and refreshed in the morning. And my husband hasn’t had his sleep interrupted since our second child was born (we’re on #3). Not that he won’t get up, but we figure he is working (and his job can be dangerous, so if he is not properly rested he or someone else could get seriously injured/killed; he’s not pushing a pencil all day). I SAH, I can take a nap later in the day if need be. But I realize this doesn’t work for everyone. I decided to cosleep when my oldest was 7 months and I thought I was having PPD. We had been trying to get her to sleep in her crib for more than 45 minutes at a stretch since birth. I finally said ‘fuck this’ and started bringing her to bed with me. Turns out I was just sleep deprived. Within two weeks I was back to myself, my husband had his wife back, and my child had a mother who wasn’t just going thru the motions.

            I never said cosleeping works for everyone, or that there aren’t risks (there are, but they are pretty damn small and I felt the psychological benefit to ME was worth the small risk). Just in my house, it’s been a real sanity saver.

            “And yes, I met many moms whose backs were ruined by slings.”

            I’ve met many people who blew out their knees exercising. Is exercising bad? Should I include the cost of knee replacement in when deciding whether or not to purchase a gym membership?

            There is babywearing and then there is being a dumb fuck*, lol.

            *I realize you can injure your back wearing a child without necessarily being a dumb fuck, but you can injure your back lifting a stroller into the car or hauling around a baby in a car seat too, so the idea that back surgery is a cost that should be considered when deciding whether or not to wear your kid is beyond silly.

            “My pump was $300”

            Okay. And since you WOH, you likely needed the expensive pump. Not everyone does. Mine was $30 and lasted thru 3 kids.

            As for nursing bras, I’ve found ones that look and feel good at $18. And you have to buy bras anyway, so unless your regular bras cost less than 25 bucks, are you really incurring additional expense (heck, the bras I normally buy are twice as much as the nursing bras I buy, so I guess I save money there).

            As for the rest, I already said that mom’s wages matter. But not all mom’s make the same wages, just like not all moms will need to spend thousands of dollars to make bfing work. Adding up the costs is a very individual thing because of this. For me, SAH, bfing, using disposables, making some of my own babyfood, but also using some jarred, has made good sense financially. I realize that won’t be the case for everyone. The cosleeping had nothing to do with cost, well, not financial cost anyway.

          • Gene

            “”Bed sharing kills.”
            Really? I have three kids that would disagree with you. Oh. They must be zombies, lol.”

            Yes, it can. And keep in mind that these deaths are NOT truly SIDS. SIDS is, by definition, a death that has an unknown cause. These babies were suffocated. So we are trying to get away from calling a baby who died by mechanical suffocation a SIDS death. Just like your baby can ride in a car without being restrained without death doesn’t mean the increased risk isn’t real.

            http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-01-12/news/ct-met-co-sleeping-20120112_1_bed-sharing-infant-deaths-rachel-moon

            http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-01-12/news/ct-met-co-sleeping-20120112_1_bed-sharing-infant-deaths-rachel-moon

            http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/relationships-and-special-occasions/parenting/bed-sharing-with-infants-is-linked-to-their-deaths/article_01f1d4d7-c04d-5a14-af5d-12281f942397.html

            (They above articles were just the first three I found when googling bed sharing death)

          • me

            I didn’t say bed sharing *couldn’t* kill. I disagreed with the notion that it ALWAYS kills (she didn’t say it *can* kill, or that there is a risk of suffocation; she just declared that it “kills”. BS). Is there risk? Sure. It can be mitigated (minimal covers, large enough bed, no pets, no smokers/drinkers/drug-impaired people in the bed, etc). How do I mitigate the risk of falling asleep behind the wheel, or falling asleep with my baby on the couch/in an armchair, or falling asleep while my toddler runs a muck and potentially kills herself, when I am only getting 3-4 hours a night of broken sleep for months on end because I am scared to cosleep cuz “it kills”? Or is that risk “not real”?

          • Gene

            ToJ, co-sleeping can be made SAFER, but is still riskier than giving a baby his or her own safe sleeping space (much like homebirthing can be made safer, but is still riskier than a hospital birth). Not many people are willing to sleep on a HARD mattress on the floor (no pads or memory foam) without a sheet (let alone quilt, blanket, or comforter) or pillows. Even then, a chronically overtired parent (isn’t that redundant) sleeps more soundly and is more at risk of rolling over an suffocating the baby.

          • me

            My point is I am not chronically overtired when co-sleeping (like I was when trying to get my oldest to sleep independently). I have a 6 year old, a just-turned-3 year old, and an 8 month old, and I get 6-8 hours every night, and feel fantastic. What’s so wrong about that? No, it won’t work for everyone. Yes, there are some small risks. But it works for me, it works for my family, and I like feeling the way I feel now a hell of a lot better than I felt for the first 7 months of my oldest kid’s life (my biggest regret is that I didn’t start cosleeping with her sooner – I can’t remember much of those first months because I was so damn exhausted). To me, being well rested is worth the small risk of bed sharing. And the risks do drop significantly as the child gets older anyway. At 8 months old her risk of suffocation is pretty damn low. It’s not as tho the risk stays at the same level the whole time, or that the risk continues after the cosleeping has ended. Believe me it is not something I took lightly (otherwise I wouldn’t have tortured myself as long as I did the first time around). I feel the benefit outweighs the risk. I don’t expect everyone to agree. I just think it’s silly to declare that something with a pretty small risk is too deadly to ever consider.

          • Gene

            Says the person who has never had to declare a baby dead after a suffocation in an adult bed…

          • me

            Ah, the logical fallacy of argument from authority – you have declared a baby dead due to suffocation therefore your opinion trumps any other. Of course, you didn’t address anything I actually said (nor did you apparently see the numerous times I fully acknowledged that there is a risk associated with bed sharing, but that I considered it small when compared to the risks I was facing from sleep deprivation), so that kind of says a lot.

            You are also demonstrating confirmation bias. Apparently your job lets you see the negative effects of bed sharing often enough that you cannot imagine it working out. How often do you see the babies that *didn’t* die? You do realize that many people practice bed sharing without any negative effects, right? Yes, there is a small risk, I never disputed that. But to say a practice “kills” when the risk of death is really very small is alarmist and histrionic.

          • AmyM

            Yeah, I have twins and I work outside the home. I wasn’t sure if the daycare provider would have been willing to deal with cloth diapers, and I certainly didn’t want to pick up the children at the end of the day and get a big bag o’ poopy diapers too. And then spend the precious free time I might have at night to do diaper laundry. Totally not worth the effort. We managed to save on diapers by buying the generic ones at BJs. I did the math once, and the Size 1-2 were about 12cents/diaper. (I don’t remember the cost of the other sizes but it was always less expensive than name brand and/or purchasing small package in the grocery store.

          • me

            I saw the “judgement” in her characterizing the work that SAHMs do as just spending all day scraping shit out of diapers. Do I scrape shit out of diapers? Well, no, I use disposables. But I wipe my fair share of shit-covered asses. But that is not all I do. If I felt like that was all I was doing, then it would be time for me to go back to work. Immediately. That’s all I’m saying.

          • GuestB

            Gotcha. I thought you were taking issue with word choice. My apologies for incorrect interpretation.

        • S

          Yeah i also had to laugh at the sling thing, though it’s probably not a good idea for those with back trouble or a heavy kid. The job i left involved wearing a backpack sprayer or back can or operating power tools depending on the season. This child doesn’t slosh much, is generally not toxic when spilled, and isn’t sharp or on fire. (No offense, Alenushka. I’d missed your comments!)

      • Anonomom, LLLL, IBCLC

        >Breastfeeding, even with expensive lactation consultant visits, costs less money than formula feeding

        Only when everything is going fine. When it’s not, it gets very expensive. Hospital grade pumps can cost $75/month. Pumping kit, $60. 2 lactation home visits would cost minimally $225 total. Bottles, SNS, nipple shields, hydogels, lansinoh, APNO, etc, more $$. Domperidone for low supply and shipping or compounding thereof also costs a lot (dont remember exactly, but not cheap). And certainly the mother’s time has value.

        • quadrophenic

          I tried breastfeeding an exclusively pumped for a little less than 3 months. My total cost of breastfeeding, including pumping supplies, milk storage, nursing bras, etc was over $1000 and I didn’t even have to pay a copay for my lactation consultants. That would have gotten me nearly a year on formula.

      • Jessica

        Eh, my personal experience has been that the cost of laundry detergent, water, and electricity used in cloth diapers is negligible and still considerably less than using disposables. Washing, drying, and folding are not time intensive tasks, and I could rather easily manage them on top of working full time.

        Breastfeeding is a different story, though. I have been blessed to be able to borrow a hospital grade pump from my cousin, so I saved myself a lot of money there. But I still had to buy bottles, nipples, breast pads, a pumping bra, collection kit, and milk storage bags. I had two consultations with a private LC – $57/each. I have still spent less than I would have had I needed to use formula. But. I am lucky because as a salaried attorney, I can pump in the privacy of my office without it affecting what I earn. I am very privileged.

        • Alenushka

          I live in the area where water and electricity are $$$

          • Jessica

            My point was that I have not seen an increase in our actual usage of water (kGal) or electricity (kwh). In any case, I’m certainly not out to convince anyone to cloth diaper – I am glad we chose to do it for lots of reasons, and my very skeptical husband is happy we made the choice too, but I don’t wax judgmental over people who choose otherwise.

          • FormerPhysicist

            Yeah, me too. And potable water is relatively scarce here. We’re under permanent outdoor water restrictions – so washing diapers 2-3 times between uses is problematic, even if legal.

        • fiftyfifty1

          “Eh, my personal experience has been that the cost of laundry detergent, water, and electricity used in cloth diapers is negligible and still considerably less than using disposables”
          That’s because you didn’t take the time to actually add it up. Generic, in-bulk, disposible diapers cost about 11 cents each. Even if you use 10 per day that’s only $1.10. For cloth you have to buy the diapers, and the covers, and the detergent and the water and the electricity and the gas to heat the water. And then, far more important, you have to pay yourself for your labor. Even if it takes you just an extra 10 minutes per day to scape, soak, wash, dry, fold, wrap the dirty diaper in a plastic bag when you are out and remember it later from the diaper bag etc., you are not paying yourself even minimum wage.
          I grew up with much younger sibs in the days before disposibles were affordable. I spent plenty of my hours scraping and swishing in the toilet and washing and drying cloth diapers and I am never doing it again. But if you want to, be my guest.

          • theadequatemother

            When I looked into it, cloth only beat sposies on cost if they were used exclusively for more than one child…in addition the cloth diaper subculture on forums is pretty much about consumerism….everyone is always talking about the new “fluff” they have just bought or are about to buy. No one is bragging that they created 20 flat diapers out of old bed sheets and sewed covers from an old rucksack, although the idea has certain appeal and I’m tempted to create an account and cloth diaper by munchausens and do just that.

            I cloth diapered very happily until the kid was a year old. On exclusive breastmilk you don’t have to soak or scrape. We had a high pressure sprayer connected to the toilet that we used for BMs. Then we moved and the damn fancy-pants toilet in the new place had water lines that were inaccessible. So I gave up the cloth.

            Hands down the most useful part of cloth diapering for us was not running out of disposibles and having to send someone to the store in a panic. Maybe my husband and I are less organized than average tho!

          • S

            Haha, i started using a menstrual cup for that exact reason; ordered it on impulse one night in a fit of annoyance at having to run to the store.

          • Jessica

            I did add up the costs. I compared our pre-baby utilities to post-baby utilities, including the cost of a larger trash bin to handle the eight weeks of disposable diapers we used. I looked at the cost of the disposables – we don’t have a membership to Costco or Sam’s and found that Pampers worked best for baby, so it was running us about $0.25/diaper. I factored in the cost of the diapers, the covers, and all the accessories, which will last through two babies and might still have residual resale value. I factored in the time and inconvenience spent washing my clothes, bedding, car seat, swing, etc. due to baby poop leaking out of a disposable (it happened to us on a few occasions and to my sister-in-law and good friend regularly). My husband compared his first son’s tendency to diaper rashes to our son’s lack of same. What we came up with was, that *FOR US*, cloth was not that hard or inconvenient and worth the minimal extra time or inconvenience it might cause.

            I don’t insist that this is the right choice for every family – but we are happy with it, and I’m happy to explain why it works for us and how we reached that conclusion.

          • LukesCook

            “Resale value” – secondhand cloth diapers? Shudder.

            Also, all this talk of high pressure sprayers does suggest a fine mist of baby crap settling on all the bathroom surfaces.

          • fiftyfifty1

            Well as long as the baby is exclusively breast-fed you should be eating its poop anyway. It cures everything.

          • Anonomom

            Unfortunately the hospital pressured me into supplementing with formula for jaundice (variation of normal doncha know) so baby’s GI tract has contaminated flora and thus is useless as a cure-all.

          • theadequatemother

            there is a fecal veneer over your entire house. Don’t think there isn’t. Ever seen what happens with droplets when a toilet is flushed?

          • Victoria

            That is why I insist that everyone close the lid prior to flushing and also keep our toothbrushes in a cabinet! Being mildly germaphobic has been difficult with the kid raising thing . . .

          • fiftyfifty1

            I just try to remember all the dogs I see in the neighborhood eating WHOLE TURDS of other dogs. They all seem healthy and energetic enough.

          • LukesCook

            Yes, I’m also a lid closer. I don’t for a moment think my house is entirely sterile of fecal matter, but I don’t see any reason to add more.

          • me

            LOL. I thought I was the only one that did this! My oldest daughter makes sure to tell anyone that goes in her bathroom to close the lid before flushing 🙂

          • Elaine

            I hate feeling like I’m throwing money in the trash. For me cloth diapers are worth it for that reason if no other. I’m not hung up on when she will potty-train because the cost of continued diaper use is minimal to me. Cost-wise I think we would have to use each diaper 100 times to break even, which if each diaper is used twice a week takes about a year. Little one is 20 months old now and showing no signs of potty training. I think we have now broken even, so from now on it’s all profit. I don’t consider the time we spend on them to be that big of a deal–maybe a half-hour to an hour a week, broken up into chunks. Sure, I don’t make what I would make at my job, but it’s not like I could apply those little five-minute chunks to my job anyway, and if I weren’t folding diapers i’d probably be screwing around on Facebook so it’s not taking me away from anything terribly important. 😉

          • DiomedesV

            I have cloth diapered. I did not rinse or scrape, but it did increase my utility costs, including gas, since the water had to be heated hot enough for them not to stink.

            Ever frequent a board of cloth diaper users? It is almost never about cost. It’s about the cute covers. Not only that, but many people end up dealing with diapers that stink even after being washed. In that case, you often see mothers who claim to wash their diapers 2-4 times on extra hot. Because that’s so cheap in terms of utilities/water use/labor.

          • DiomedesV

            And I have a HE washer. With no scraping plus HE, still an increase in water.

            My labor is worth more than $20 a month. Far more.

          • fiftyfifty1

            “It’s about the cute covers” ….and about “being someone who cloth diapers”.

          • DiomedesV

            Not only that, but we saw zero long term effect on diaper rash with cloth diapers, and the pediatric dermatologist we consulted thought the whole thing was nonsense.

        • Charlotte

          For me I save about $20 a month after detergent and electricity for washer/dryer and the initial cost of the diapers. Not much, but for ultra-thrifty people it is worth it.

          • Amy

            A lot of the cost effectiveness of using cloth diapers depends on the kind you get. It is easy to spend $200 one time and diaper all of your children. It can get quite a bit more pricey if you are like me and buy the cute ones just because you want them 🙂

          • Allie P

            The effectiveness of cloth diapers is also dependent on whether or not the promised benefits (lack of leaks, etc) are actually true. In my experience, they were not. My child was a very heavy wetter, and no matter what kind of cloth diaper, cloth diaper cover, inserts, wool covers, you name it — trust me, I tried them all, and paid $$$$$ to do it — i could not find one that kept her dry all night, or even half the night. We also had WAY more leaks int eh daytime, and stains stayed, no matter what I tried to get them out. Scraping took ages, washing more ages…

            I gave up after 6 months. disposables are cheaper, more time effective, and work better for us.

            Oh, and I did price comparisons with baby food too — you save maybe a few cents a day, and the time investment is easily half an hour or more a day. But she didn’t eat baby food for allt hat long anyway (maybe 2-3 months?)

          • Jessica

            This is true. On some of the cloth diapering boards I read many women post about the special (expensive) detergent they have to buy, the insanely complicated wash routines or stripping when diapers get build up and start repelling, and so forth. I guess everyone has her personal breaking point, but I wouldn’t tolerate leaking, blowouts, or a wash routine more complicated than how I wash my own clothes.

          • araikwao

            Totally agree re the cloth diapers – I stubbornly used them with my first, in spite of awful nappy rash, constant changes and leaks galore, mostly because I paid so much for them before she was born. I spent way too much time working out wash routines and stripping them and whatever. This baby wets right through them, and gets nappy rash, so I am now embracing disposables and it is SO much easier.

      • fiftyfifty1

        ” You assume that mom”s wages do not matter but they do. If mom makes a good wage, every minute she spends scraping shit of the diaper instead of working, means wage loss, lifetime income loss and retirement fund loss.”

        You bet. There is a a huge opportunity cost to washing diapers and making homemade baby food. And even if mom *doesn’t* make a good wage right this minute and pays all her take-home to daycare, a resume with no gaps is worth a lot in the future.
        In my opinion the only really good reason to do all these things (breastfeed, make your own baby food, stay-at-home, etc. etc) is if you really truly honest-to-god WANT and ENJOY doing these things. Not “don’t mind”. Because they really don’t benefit the baby worth a hill of beans.

      • Phascogale

        Depends what you go for regarding nappies. I got very poor at one stage and didn’t want to spend $15 or so on nappies every week so I bought a couple of packets of terry toweling cloth for $15/20, and some plastic pants ($2 for a 3 pack). My washing was minimal. I’d wash every 3 days and hang out in the sun (this will depend where you live and the season for most people or you can hang inside on an airer). It really didn’t take much time at all – and I I bought some polar fleece that I used to line the nappy so the poo would drop off the nappy and detergent and water wouldn’t be that expensive depending on what you buy and how often you wash. Saved myself so much money and wished I had’ve done it with the other 2 kids. Did it for 12-18 months. Now modern cloth nappies – they can be just as expensive as disposables! With carrying your baby – if you have the proper carriers that carry the weight on your hips ie framed backpacks (from 6 months) and you use them correctly then you should be okay backwise as you get stronger as your baby gets bigger. The ones that hang off your shoulders will do damage and I wouldn’t suggest you try putting a two year into a carrier (when never carried before) and going on a 20km hike. Guaranteed to hurt yourself. Manual pumps are not that expensive and you can always hand express for an occasional bottle. The first 5/6 months are probably when mums are most tied to their babies when it comes to breastfeeding but once they are on solids then you can usually settle the baby with solids until mum comes back and then gives a breastfeed. Breastfeeding also becomes faster the older a child gets. Just because you are sitting there for 30-40minutes feeding when you have a newborn doesn’t mean it will continue. Often by the time babies are 3-4 months old they can have their whole feed in 5-10mins.

      • Frequent Guest

        We actually saved a TON of money by cloth diapering (still are). I’m a huge nerd and have kept track of our diaper stash and what we’ve spent on a spreadsheet, and we have spent less than $600 for all of our diapering supplies for the past 15 months (and most of our stash is newborn and one-size BumGenius AIOs, purchased used or on sale). And our water bill has only gone up by $1-2 per month since before we had our daughter. Just saying, it CAN be cheaper than disposables!

        • Serenity

          How is that cheaper than disposables, if the cost of cheap disposables is about $1/day?

          I used cloth diapers in the mid-90s with my kids, believing it was cheaper because it had been cheaper in the 80s. But the costs of disposables went down since then. I spent about $200 getting set up with prefolds, choosing the cheapest workable option. I was shocked when I switched to disposables later and realized that diapers were about $20/month. My payback time was much longer than I thought. I thought I could at least use the cloth diapers for multiple children, but they were pretty tattered after one child.

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            I know, my BIL is a CPA and he is always trying to save money. Some of the things he does with insurance and other things I would pay more money than he saves to avoid. Anyway, he figured up the whole cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers on a crazy spread sheet and found that by using cloth diapers they would save 3 cents a year. So, they use disposable.

            Speaking of cheap, when I had my first daughter someone gifted me a diaper service for three months. They supplied the diapers and washed them. I used it for 2 weeks. I hated cloth diapers.

    • Sullivan ThePoop

      I have said it before and I will say it again, these things only save you money if your time is worth nothing.

      • Amy

        That’s a really insulting thing to say.

        • DiomedesV

          It is also true. We all live in the same world governed by the same principles of economics. All of these behaviors come with opportunity cost. If the opportunity cost is low (ie, your time is worth very little), then they may save you money.

        • lacrima

          I took this comment in a different light. When you take into consideration the time spent making your own formula, cloth-diapering, etc, for many people in the paid workforce, it ends up being more expensive than using less labor-intensive methods. In my case, it was cheaper to go back to work part-time and use disposables, etc.

          • Amy

            Not everyone can be doctors and lawyers who rake in hundreds of dollars an hour. Also not everyone WANTS to be a doctor or lawyer or any other highly paid professional. That comment is just rude. For people with incomes on a similar level to my family’s, where it is more cost effective for the mom to stay home, it is not more expensive. And to suggest that our time is worthless because we chose to stay home and care for our children, rather than paying someone else to do it and netting a few extra hundred bucks a month is very judgmental.

          • Alenushka

            Emotionally your time is not worthless but the reality is that when a mother stays home who lifetime income is impacted and her retirement is damaged. Also, resume with 5-10 year long hole makes it harder to re-enter workforce. It seems more cost effective short term because not one think about long term consequences. 1/2 income went to day care in the first 3 years but I knew that even thought I am not a doctor or attorney, not having a hole in my resume will have long term positive effect and it would compensate me money wise for years to come. It also reduced emotional stress for me and my children. Poverty comes with costs and effects of poverty can last a lifetime I am saying it as person who grew up in extreme poverty.

          • Amy

            I guess I am just looking at it through the eyes of someone who chose to be a stay at home mom. Period. Like, that IS and WILL BE my job. No plans to go back to work. My kids are not a gap in my career, so that isn’t a future issue for me to consider. My personal life situation is unique to people in my particular situation, and often clouds my perspective. As do my not-currently-popular beliefs about raising children.

          • Alenushka

            But the economic reality is something different. Partners die and leave or loose jobs. Then what? Yes, staying at home taking care of children and house is a full time occupation but out of all the jobs out there , to me, this is the most less secure one. What happens when children are 18? What happens when one retires? I agree with you that society does not value home labor. It is unpaid. Retirement fund do not accrue when you stay home in US. The biggest risk factor for poverty at old age for women is being a mother. It is outrageous.

          • Amy

            To be honest, those things are not a problem for me so I haven’t given them much thought. I am lucky that that is the case though. The thing that bothers me the most is just frank rudeness of that quote. I have seen it before and I think it is disgusting. Plenty of mothers stay at home and formula feed. Lots of them probably use WIC to buy their formula if they are in financial situations where working outside the home doesn’t make sense. No one tells them their time is worthless. It is denigrating to say outright that anyone’s time is worthless because of choices they make either out of love or financial necessity for their children. That statement to me is the complete opposite of feminism and it is disgusting.

          • Alenushka

            Not a problem? You know that your partner will never leave, die or loose his/her job? That is amazing. Unless you have trust fund… I do not see how you would never worry. That or good life insurance or huge saving or which a divorce attorney can sue for alimony etc.

          • Amy

            My husband can’t lose his job (military) and if he dies I will have plenty of money from SGLI to tide us over until I make enough to support us. If he leaves, I have very supportive parents who will take care of me and my children until I am able to support them on my own. And I am an only child of a well paid, hard working, frugal geophycisist. I’ll be Ok. I recognize that not a lot of people are as fortunate as I am.

          • Alenushka

            Awesome!

          • fiftyfifty1

            One of my military patients lost his job last year. Apparently formed an inappropriate relationship with a woman under his command. He says it was never physical. Wife has decided to believe him and not break up the family. He is trying to find a civilian job. Wife is planning to move out of state back home with her parents for awhile due to financial and emotional support reasons. Not so different really than when he is deployed.

          • Amy

            That’s a bummer for your friend…I suppose yes, my husband could lose his job (DUI, doing something stupid/inappropriate, etc.) but I and my children would still be OK financially. I will even be OK if we have a Blackout situation (anyone watch that show?) because my family has land and my husband knows how to do everything. (I’m not even exaggerating, he is a crazy jack of all trades)

          • fiftyfifty1

            Are there formula feeding moms out there claiming formula is free?

          • Siri

            Amy, I don’t want to sound patronising, but really and truly, no one has said anything rude, tactless or disgusting! You have misunderstood, that’s all, and it happens to all of us. It took me a while to get my head around it too, and I don’t think I’m stupid. I just don’t have a background in economics, and I spend every day working with mums and new babies. I love this blog, because the commenters are so diverse, clever, funny, knowledgeable, wise, educated, sharp and, above all, they play the ball, not the player! There are no insults, and only well-deserved (and well-worded) put-downs. You are not stupid, your contributions are welcome, so please let go of your annoyance; there is no need for it. The quote that angered you did not say that you are worthless, or that your choices are not valid, or that bf-ing is pointless, or anything negative aimed at you. I promise. I speak as your ancient 43-yr-old Norwegian auntie, living in the UK.

          • Siri

            I also happen to think you sound like a lovely mum, so why on earth would anyone want to insult you? Plus, I have a daughter named Amy, just a little bit younger than you, so you see my arguments are based on the purest science, lol.

          • Amy

            Siri, thank you for your words. My biggest problem with the whole quote in the first place…is where does it belong in polite conversation? When would you ever say it to someone other than to snark on people who say breastfeeding is free? Other than some super crazies, I don’t think anyone every tries to insinuate that someone should quit their job solely to BF their child, or that they should continue to breastfeed despite half their nipples falling off or something.

            I just don’t know what context it could be used in, other than as an insult.

            The only time the cost of breastfeeding should even be a factor is if someone is either already a SAHM (or planning to SAHM) or if they are salaried and have appropriate facilities to pump and store milk at work. And even in the second scenario, that is only assuming that they are willing to spend the time it takes to pump and clean parts, etc.

            Like someone said before, a SAHM is feeding the baby anyway, so yes, breastfeeding is free for them. Of course there is the opportunity cost of lost wages, but there is also value in feeding your own baby to a lot of people. Opportunity cost is not just measured in dollars.

            And for someone who has the ability to pump at work: If they enjoy being able to breastfeed when they’re with their baby, and that joy gives them the motivation to pump, then good for them. If they are also saving money in the long run by only spending $250 on a decent pump, even better.

            If someone could explain to me the appropriate place in polite conversation for the above quote “bfing is free only if a woman’s time is worth nothing” I would love to hear it.

            Give me a real life example where you would say it, other than to scoff at women who choose to stay home and also breastfeed.

          • Siri

            Omg, now you’re asking.. Remember I’m old and decrepit. Let me think about that for a moment, unless someone cleverer can beat me to it?!

          • Amy

            The question wasn’t just aimed at you, more to everyone else who has been commenting. But if you can think of a situation I’d be glad to hear it! (Read it!)

          • lacrima

            Hi Amy, I’m a bit confused by all this and I’d like to hear where you’re coming from, since I took the original quote and most of the responses in a completely different way and it’s obviously hit a major nerve for you.
            The quote which you originally responded to, as being insulting, “I have said it before and I will say it again, these things only save you money if your time is worth nothing.”, was in response to a post made by guest, which stated that breastfeeding, etc, cost less money and which didn’t refer to anything but finances.
            I read it as referring to the purely financial side of things, since that was the whole point of guest’s post. If you’re looking at it in purely financial terms, without going into anything else, at all, then I’m not sure where the insult lies, since it seems to me to be a statement of fact and a perfectly appropriate thing to say, in the context of that discussion.
            Of course, if you’re looking at it in emotional, social, cultural terms, then it becomes a totally different thing and maybe insulting. If the discussion was regarding the general benefits of breastfeeding, or staying at home, or making your own baby food, for instance, rather than the purely financial, then it would have been different.

          • Amy

            The context of guest’s post was that of someone who is already staying at home. And the quote that was given as a response just wasn’t really relevant to what guest posted. That’s why I asked for someone to give me an example of who you would say this quote too in real life, in what situation would it be anything other than a jab at breastfeeding. My ears are open, and if someone can give me an example, I would love to see it.

          • lacrima

            I’m reposting guest’s comment here, since Disqus is a bit tricky to navigate:
            “I have to disagree with the point about money…uncomplicated vaginal birth without pain relief costs less money. Breastfeeding, even with expensive lactation consultant visits, costs less money than formula feeding. Cloth diapering costs less money than disposables. Making your own baby food costs less money than jars from the store. For many women (though not all), staying at home with baby costs less money than going back to work. Co-sleeping costs less money than having to buy a crib. Baby-wearing slings cost less money than swings, bouncers, strollers, etc. I agree that attachment parenting is right only if it works for mom, but I don’t find it convincing that proponents are only in it for the money; because for most of these points, they aren’t seeing any and they even end up saving more money for mom.”

            Guest appears to be stating that staying at home, making your own baby food, co-sleeping, etc, costs less. If someone said to me: “I am going to quit my job, stay at home and breastfeed, since I want to save money”, then I would probably respond by saying that “it only saves money if you’re not costing your time, I don’t think you’ve done your financial cost/benefit analysis very well.” So yes, in this situation, I think that I would make that statement, in real life, without it being a jab at breastfeeding.
            If they said: “I am going to quit my job, stay at home and breastfeed, since I think it’s better for my kids that I’m at home with them, I hate my stupid job and I think breastfeeding is awesome. Also, why pay for formula when I have free boobs sitting around?”, then my response is going to be that I think you’re making a great decision.

          • Amy

            Thank you. That makes sense. I guess I forget that some people only plan to SAHM “til the kids are in school.” In that case I guess it could be helpful to point out that the gap in the resume won’t save them money in the long term.

            At the same time, I don’t think people would come to the conclusion (even if daycare makes their paycheck a wash) that they would quit their job SOLELY to breastfeed SOLELY to save money. You can’t separate the money saving aspect of breastfeeding from the desire to breastfeed. (in general)

          • Siri

            What did you think of my example above? It doesn’t mention breast feeding, but it relates monetary gains to non-monetary advantages.

          • Amy

            Forgive me, but I don’t see an example from you! I am not super savvy at Disqus…

          • Siri

            Ok, how about this: my elderly neighbour says to me (mum of 3 grown ups, a teenager and a toddler, and working full-time), ‘Why would you pay to have groceries delivered, dear, when walking to the shops is free, and the exercise is good for you? I reply, Well, in your case it’s free, because you don’t lose out on pay by taking the time to do it. Also, you benefit from the exercise, and you probably enjoy talking to the checkout staff as well. I, on the other hand, can earn more than I would save by doing my own shopping, so it’s not worth it. Plus, I meet lots of people at work, and in my spare time I want to be with my children. So in terms of monetary economics AND personal, time-related economics, it pays for me to order groceries. That’s basically the same conversation, just leaving out the word worthless. Does that make sense to you, Amy?

          • ratiomom

            I’ve actually said this in real life. Not to a breastfeeding mom though.

            I’ve used it to get away from a lactivist midwife at the maternity clinic who just wouldn’t leave me alone when I told her I had no interest in BFing.

            I’m an independent professional and the main provider for our family. If I spend an hour on my couch with my breasts hanging out instead of working, that costs me several hundred dollars in missed earnings. If I spend too many hours like that, my customers will take their business elsewhere. That’s not something I want to happen in this economy.

            She simply wouldn’t understand why I kept saying I couldn’t afford to BF. She harped on and on about how it was absolutely free. So I introduced her to economics 101 in no uncertain terms.

          • Amy

            Thanks for sharing, but this isn’t really relevant to what was originally said. If you’re not already feeding your own baby, and take time off of work to feed your own baby, obviously it is not free.

          • AmyP

            Given the cheapness of term life insurance, dying is really the least problematic thing a husband can do. I’m a US SAHM and we’ve got more or less a million dollars of life insurance on my husband. It’s really not expensive, either.

            Disability would be financially more of a problem, but I’m sure we could figure out how to live on half of current income–downsize the house, put the kids in public school, etc. Divorce is the big one, though. On the bright side, while everybody in the US repeats the 50% divorce figure, that’s really not the case. The risk of divorce is highly variable according to your demographic situation. Being an SAHM is a gamble, but for a white, educated upper-middle class woman, it’s less risky than it is for others.

          • LukesCook

            I’ll just say here that as a lawyer I’ve seen lots of white, educated upper-middle class women left by their husbands at a time of their lives when it’s difficult or impossible to launch a career. White, educated upper-middle class women also expect higher living standards, which only adds to the shock.

          • Siri

            Your last sentence sounds like magical thinking to me! I belong to the right group, ergo my risk is greatly reduced. I know lots of women just like that, including myself, whose marriages went south, either while mum was still a SAHM, or once mum was of an age to make it hard to find paid employment. Working for peanuts for a while, maintaining your skills and keeping one eye on reality, is better than living in a fool’s paradise of coffee mornings, mummy get-togethers and Tupperware…

          • I don’t have a creative name

            Same here. I’m not worried about whether my beliefs are popular, I’m just doing what’s right for my family.

            I’m not worried about a gap in my resume. We’re always broke, but somehow manage to make it through each month. When the time comes to go back to work, I have meaningful experience in several fields and feel confident that I would be able to considered for any number of them. It helps that there is very low unemployment in my state, but a plethora of job openings. Even if I had to start somewhere at 10 bucks an hour and work my way up, that’d be okay. As far as if the hubs died (God forbid – he’s not allowed to do that for at least 50 more years), we have life insurance on both of us so the other one would have a nice cushion to fall on while rebuilding their life.

          • Siri

            What about those women whose husbands leave them and start a new family, taking their earning power with them? And who find that the life insurance premiums haven’t been paid, so instead of a nice cushion there is a hard floor to fall on? Or whose husbands get MS, or cancer, or a disability? ‘We’re always broke, but somehow manage to make it through each month’ sounds cool and fun, but turn the we into an I, add in a bit of unexpected misfortune, and suddenly the kids are living in actual poverty. I am sorry to poo in your pool, but that kind of hubris scares the pants off me.

          • I don’t have a creative name

            Yup. And maybe tomorrow fatass Kim Jong-Un will finally get his nuclear missile launched here into the US and we’ll all be melty goo oozing down the streets.

            Anything could happen. I can’t worry about every possible scenario. If something DOES happen tomorrow, then I will go back to work, plain and simple. I also have family that would help us if necessary, though I’d rather eat glass than ask, but I would if I had to.

            Sorry that I’m not wringing my hands about the gap in my resume. I’m home with my kids, because it’s right for us. You do what’s right for your kids. If feeling optimistic about my life, feeling good about being home with kids, and not worrying about letting there be a nice long gap in my resume equals hubris, then call me Hubris McHubrispants.

          • Siri

            Ok, fair enough, H McH! Mmmmm, melty goo… Wonder if there is time to knock up a batch of brownies…

          • theadequatemother

            The point about poverty is very true. If I meet an elderly impoverished person at work, they are generally female. My grandmother in law is impoverished and my MIL and FIL are supporting her. My husband and I have already factored the cost of supporting both our mothers in their old age into our financial planning. Both were SAHM and even though our dads *think* they have enough saved, we know they don’t. The model worked back when there were defined benefit pension plans that could be transferred to a spouse upon death and life expectancy was less. Now, not so much. i expect both our mothers to live well into their 90s and need significant care and homemaking support (first at home, then maybe our home, then maybe assisted living or long term care). I don’t know a single person of my parents’ generation that budgeted for the cost of long term care or home supports in their later years.

            I should add that our families are both upper mid class.

          • AmyP

            “If I meet an elderly impoverished person at work, they are generally female.”

            A financial guy I listen to says that a common scenario is that dad goes into the nursing home and dies some years later, so that by the time it’s mom’s turn for the nursing home, nearly all their savings are gone.

            Also, if I understand US Social Security correctly, when a member of an elderly couple dies, the surviving spouse faces a major drop in household income. Now, obviously the deceased spouse no longer needs to eat or buy clothes, but there are major fixed costs (house and car) that will harder to carry with half the social security income.

            So I’d argue that at least part of the reason there are so many poor elderly women is simply that women live longer.

          • theadequatemother

            That’s a valid point but it’s only part of the reason. In Canada, where i am, the difference in life expectancy between men and women is only 4 years (http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/health26-eng.htm).

            The canada pension plan will pay 60% of the deceased pension to the spouse if they are over 65 and only if they are not receiving their own CPP benefits. So women who have never worked outside the home and not accrued their own pension don’t receive very much…although one could argue that no one receives very much from CPP. If a woman receives some CPP, it is my understanding she doesn’t get a survivor benefit at all. We also have old age security (OAS) but when your spouse dies you lose 100% of their OAS benefit. The social safety net for the elderly here appears to significantly penalize women who have never worked or only worked for a few years.

            Women may live longer, but unless the couple has made a concerted effort to set aside money for the woman’s care during her elder years, women have a significant risk of sliding into poverty. I think that the best defense is for women to build up personal savings and take advantage of employer-matching plans.

            No all SAHM moms are going to have financial problems in their elder years. However, it is a risk factor…same as hypertension is a risk factor for stroke. Not all hypertensives are going to have a stroke but that doesn’t mean steps shouldn’t be taken to reduce their chances….the quantity and aggressiveness of those preventative steps is a value judgement tho – not the same for each person.

          • lacrima

            As I said, I took Sullivan’s comment in a different light. If you’re factoring in the financial cost, when mum is staying at home instead of earning a wage, sometimes these cheaper things become more expensive than the alternatives. I don’t earn hundreds of dollars an hour, I am on a pretty average hourly rate, working in a public library. I chose to go back to work part-time, instead of full-time, because I preferred to stay at home with my kids, when possible. I just don’t believe that the more labor intensive parenting choices are as cheap as they seem, if you’re putting a dollar value on your time. If you aren’t putting a dollar value on your time, because you’re not seeing it in purely financial terms, then it’s a different matter. I didn’t value my time in terms of dollar value only, or I’d have gone back to work full-time, since a full-time job, whether you’re a lawyer or a waitress, is generally going to bring in more money than is spent on labor-saving devices such as prepared baby food.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Every mother’s time is worth something, regardless of whether she would be employed as a professional or employed at all. It may not be measured in money, but it can be measured in peace of mind, happiness and mental health.

            For AP advocates to claim that AP saves money is like men claiming that they got married because it saves money: otherwise they would have had to hire a cook, laundry service, house cleaning service, etc. It only saves money if you consider that the wife’s time is worthless and that the very best use of her time is being a servant.

          • Amy

            I’m just not understanding how it is ok to say that my time is worthless because I breastfed my kids in order to avoid spending an extra $200 or however much it costs on formula? My cousin is a SAHM to three kids who does not want anything at all to do with breastfeeding, and I don’t know why she wouldn’t want to at least consider it given how expensive formula is. Our reasons for staying home are the same, finance-wise, but because I chose to breastfeed and spend our money on something else makes my time worthless? I would spend just as much time feeding a baby with formula (if not more) and not have the extra money left over. Is the point of that saying that someone else should be feeding my baby so I can go make money? If we aren’t in need of extra income, I don’t know why that should make anyone say my time is worthless…Not to mention that if you were trying to make a point about something as personal as the value of one’s time, you could say it in a more tactful way than that quote above.

          • auntbea

            The argument is not that it isn’t cheaper to breastfeed rather than formula feed if you are otherwise staying home and devoting your time to baby care. The argument is that most people who do exclusive breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, etc are often SAHM’s because those things are so time/energy intensive they can’t do that and work outside the home. Choosing to stay home and breastfeed rather than work and formula feed is only cheaper if you make less per year than your baby drinks in formula (and day care.)

            Another way to look at it: say you would make nine dollars an hour at whatever job you would have if you were not a SAHM. That makes your time, in economic terms, worth nine dollars an hour. Let’s say nursing takes you six hours per day, and formula only takes four hours. That’s a two hour difference times nine dollars for eighteen dollars a day. That means that unless you spend more than eighteen dollars a day on formula, you have not actually saved your family money. (This is just an example. I don’t know how much you make or how much time you spend nursing.)

            This *doesn’t* mean that staying home is not a perfectly valid choice if you enjoy it or think it is important for your kids or whatever reason you have. But for anyone who would make more than minimum wage on the job market, “saving money” isn’t really a good reason to choose home over work.

          • Amy

            Are there actual people who don’t work JUST so that they can do those AP style things? I find that difficult to believe…and I spend a lot of time reading MDC for fun. I think people who decide to do those things, decide to do them for the sake of doing them, and have already made the decision to stay home. I don’t think doing those things is PREVENTING someone from working, I think that people decide to stay home, and then find that they do have time to do those things.

            I understand the dollars and cents economics of it, I just think it’s a rude statement. I think it’s unnecessary to even say, because opportunity cost is subjective, it’s not just about money. It’s about skipping a donut so you can be a bit more healthy. Not so you save $1. Likewise, people who have the ability to breastfeed choose to do it for personal AND financial reasons.

            I don’t think anyone is stupid enough to think they can breast feed because it’s free so they don’t spend part of their McDonald’s paycheck on formula.

          • me

            But are they SAHMs so they can do those things, or do they do those things because they wanted to be SAHMs, and chose to do those things because, as SAHMs, they have the time to do what they want to do? It seems like the assumption here is that no one really wants to be a SAHM; women only do it *in order to be able* to do these AP things. There also seems to be an assumption that no one really wants to do these AP things in the first place, they only do them because they feel like they “have to”. Both of these assumptions are, well, just that. I wanted to SAH with my kids before I ever got pregnant. Back when I planned to ff, never dreamed of cloth diapering (still don’t use those, lol), and thought cosleeping was for hippies. I thought slings were only used by tribal folks if other parts of the world. I changed my mind during my pregnancy and I chose to bf because I wanted to (I really figured I’d try it and see how it went, it went well, and now I can’t imagine doing anything else). I tried cosleeping out of exhausted desperation and found it to be a sanity-saver (for me). I use a carrier when my babies are small because I find it very convenient (especially at the grocery store 😉

            In your example, if the mother only makes $9/hour, but her husband makes enough that she *could* stay home (they aren’t depending on her income to pay the bills), then she likely won’t qualify for low cost daycare and all of her paycheck (and some of his) will go to daycare. At that point, unless she finds her $9/hour job particularly fulfilling, she’s better off SAH financially ($9/hour jobs don’t typically offer benefits, retirement, or improve one’s resume). If she does SAH (because she really wants to, because she can’t afford daycare on her salary, whatever), then she’s not getting paid either way, so fing will be more expensive (unless she has some serious issue bfing). I’m not sure why ffing would take less time than bfing (maybe in the beginning with a learning curve, but if all goes well, bfing becomes quite quick, easy, and convenient, and with subsequent children the learning period is generally reduced even further), but even if it does take less time, at $0/hour it’s not as though that matters.

          • auntbea

            What? Did I not say this:

            This *doesn’t* mean that staying home is not a perfectly valid choice if you enjoy it or think it is important for your kids or whatever reason you have.

            Did I also not say this:

            The argument is not that it isn’t cheaper to breastfeed rather than formula feed if you are otherwise staying home and devoting your time to baby care.

          • me

            Sorry if it wasn’t clear, that was in response to your assertion that “most people who do exclusive breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, etc are often
            SAHM’s because those things are so time/energy intensive they can’t do
            that and work outside the home.”

            Seems like a chicken-egg question. Did they become AP first and decide that in order to do those things you mentioned they have to quit working (in which case, no it’s not less expensive after you’ve factored lost wages)? Or, did they decide to become SAHMs first and then decided to do those things (cuz, heck, why not, they have the time) and found it less expensive *as a SAHM* (being that the SAHM part was already a given) to bf rather than ff, cloth diaper rather than use disposables, baby wear rather than invest in bouncers, playpens, swings, etc? Honestly I can’t see someone saying, gee I really want to bf, cd, babywear, etc, but the only way I can is if I SAH, so I’m gonna quit my job. Maybe it happens, but most SAHMs I know (myself included) decided they wanted to be home with their kids long before they decided on any of that other crap. Sure you see a higher % of SAHMs doing those things, but I think it’s mostly due to 1. having the time to do them and 2. being a SAHM you do feel compelled to find ways to save money (usually).

            I guess I’m not sure why there is this assumption that you have to factor in lost wages when a lot of these (most?) women had already planned to SAH anyway.

          • fiftyfifty1

            Here’s something that make more sense to you: Do you know that military saying “Freedom Isn’t Free”? Do you know what that means? Now try thinking the same thing with “Breastfeeding Isn’t Free”.

          • theadequatemother

            I completely agree. There is something about the phrase “breastfeeding is free” that assumes that a woman has more value in the home than out of the home…ie that our time and our employment isn’t worth very much.

            My time and employment is worth a lot…both to me and to society. 14 years of post grad training, highly useful specific skills…and yet I still got told time and again that it was a shame I chose to go to back to work so “early,” by colleagues, the nurses at work, on-line strangers, my mother, my grandmother…Implicit in these comments was the idea that a woman’s time spent in the home raising young children is more valuable than working – even if she is working at a very high level of accomplishment. And I find that insulting.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Amy, darling, the quote that I think you’re referring to (“I have said it before and I will say it again, these things only save you money if your time is worth nothing”) ISN’T saying that YOU are worth nothing or that you are wasting your time. Or that the time you spend at home is a waste or that your time is worth nothing in the literal sense.

            What this person was trying to get across, I believe, is that, from an economic standpoint, if a woman isn’t coming out ahead financially by working outside the home, then it’s more likely that she will save money by doing “these things.” The comment that fiftyfifty1 made was especially on target.

            No need to take undue offense. No one is criticizing you or attacking you or saying that you matter less than women who work outside the home. I know that you’re trying to make a different point, but it’s not the point that the original quote was making.

            ~ From a fellow SAHM who accepts that the job she could have gone back to would put her in the negative, thus rendering her time worthless in the economic sense but not in the self-esteem sense. The job we do at home is meaningful, all the same.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            This is the quote from fiftyfifty1 that is especially helpful when trying to interpret the original “insulting” quote (as you put it) by Sullivan ThePoop:

            “But you said so yourself! After paying for the things a person needs to
            pay for in order to work (in your case daycare and gas) you told us
            your “entire paycheck would have gone”. In other words, your time
            outside the home working would be worth nothing (i.e. would net nothing
            for your family). Only in cases such as yours where your job skills are
            worth very little on the market, can doing labor intensive tasks inside
            the home rather than working for wages save you money. It’s not an
            insult, it’s economics 101.”

          • Amy

            I get the logistics of the quote…I just think it is negative and demeaning. What you said:

            “from an economic standpoint, if a woman isn’t coming out ahead financially by working outside the home, then it’s more likely that she will save money by doing “these things.””

            IS the same thing, but much less offensive. Actually not even offensive at all. That’s all I am saying. It is an offensive quote due to the poor choice of words and negative connotation of what it’s saying.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Fair enough!

          • LukesCook

            It’s only insulting if you don’t understand it.

          • Charlotte

            I don’t have a dog in this fight, but it bothers me endlessly when people say “darling,” “sweetie,” or “honey” to a woman when they want to belittle and infantilze her, and imply that she is child who has nothing intelligent to say because she is a woman. Even if you disagree with her, show her some respect.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Charlotte, I am sorry for offending you with my choice of words. I was really only trying to be endearing.

          • TiffanyEpiphany

            Amy, I am sorry for unintentionally belittling/infantilizing you (as Charlotte below said I did) by calling you darling. I was trying to be endearing; didn’t mean for it to come off offensive.

          • me

            Only if you consider time spent with your kids “worthless” (or worse yet, if you feel that spending time with your kids makes you a “servant”). I enjoy spending time with my kids. Hell, bfing is probably the cushiest part of my “job” – I get to sit down and put my feet up.

            Again, I don’t understand the notion that the only reason a woman might want to SAH is in order for her to be able to bf. I know plenty of SAHMs who use formula and plenty of WOHMs who bf. The two things are not muutally exclusive. Myself, I knew I wanted to SAH with my kids loooong before I ever decided to try bfing.

          • guest

            Using your analogy, it would be cheaper for the man to clean the house himself. However, if it’s going to make him miserable or otherwise isn’t the right choice for him, it might be worth it for him to spend money on a laundry service and house cleaning service, etc. In either case, I fail to see how the people who suggest that he clean his own house–or, as you say, his wife–stand to make a profit, especially when compared with the people offering him cleaning services for profit.

            Regarding attachment parenting, I don’t mean to make any judgment of which is “better” or which is the “right” choice: of course that’s up to the individual woman, and what’s right for one may be oh-so-wrong for another. Peace of mind, happiness, and mental health as you say should count more than the physical costs. My only point was that the physical costs are often reduced with attachment parenting choices, but cost is only one factor going into the decision of parenting styles.

          • Phascogale

            For me to go back to work, it was worth it when I had one child in care. When I had two kids the cost of child care meant that I got a whole $20 in take home pay after I’d paid out for everything to do with working. Then I had a third. It wasn’t worth me going back to work, especially when you factor in the stress of getting all the kids up to get to childcare and getting to work on time. If I was a doctor or a lawyer I may have engaged a nanny because i could afford it but on my wage, it’s not an option.

          • Jessica

            Right. If using cloth diapers and breastfeeding takes you away from paid employment, then there are hidden costs you have to factor into the equation. A lot of AP types forget that in their zeal to convince everyone.

          • Amy

            I don’t think anyone here is trying to convince anyone to AP. I am just saying it’s rude to say someone’s time is worthless if she decides to do things like breastfeed or wash diapers. Does Sullivan the Poop hire out her own laundry? If she doesn’t her time must be worthless since she chooses to wash her own clothes instead of working an extra 2 or 3 hours a week.

          • Jessica

            Sullivan’s point is that a great deal is made of how breastfeeding is “free,” forgetting that it either requires women to be totally available to their babies at all times, thus limiting employment opportunities, or requires women to spend money on supplies and perhaps take time out of their work days to pump to provide this “free” milk. If those costs exceed the cost of formula, what’s the advantage?

            No one here has ever said that a woman shouldn’t choose to breastfeed or cloth diaper (or bed share or whatever) if that’s what she WANTS, but she shouldn’t be guilted into it, especially under the false pretense that it’s FREE (or better for baby when the evidence is weak, etc.).

          • fiftyfifty1

            “Does Sullivan the Poop hire out her own laundry”. Maybe not, but fiftyfifty does 😉

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            My husband does the laundry.

          • LukesCook

            She didn’t say that your time is worthless if you do these things. She said that it’s only cheaper to do these things if your time is worthless. The two statements aren’t remotely the same.

          • Amy

            It’s cheaper for a SAHM to breastfeed than formula feed…so the formula feeding mom’s time is still worthless.

          • LukesCook

            Only if she does nothing with it.

          • Sue

            Amy – think of it this way – “it’s only cheaper to breast feed if you don’t cost your time.”

            The discussion is not about whether it is valuable or desirable to breast feed. Or even whether women’t time is valuable. It’s a response to the lactivists who say that one of the benefits of breast feeding is that it’s cheaper. The response of someone who was earning outside the home would be “it’s not cheaper for me if I cost my working hours.” IN other words, it’s only cheaper if you don’t put a price on the time you spend. This has nothing to do with whether your individual time is valuable or not – it’s whether you derive an economic value from it.

            Can you see the difference?

          • quadrophenic

            I think it’s also a global response to the privilege of women who stay at home because they have a partner who works (not that this means they’re rich – I’m sure most live modestly). But I often see the “breastfeeding is cheaper” line used against WIC moms who maybe don’t have time to pump at work (pump breaks at minimum wage jobs aren’t easy I’m sure and will be “off the clock”). I cringe when someone claims the government shouldn’t be helping a woman with formula through WIC because breastfeeding is “free.” The learning curve with breastfeeding and time for pumping when returning from work makes breastfeeding costly or impossible for many working moms.

          • BeatlesFan

            Especially living in the U.S., where many don’t even get paid maternity leave, and some moms have to return to work almost immediately after the baby is born. I’m currently on unpaid leave (due in 11 days) and we’re only going to make it through on our tax returns and any overtime my husband is able to get. Even when I do return to work, if I have to go back to my current job (I’m hoping to have a new one to start instead), then pumping won’t be an option. In that case, $30/week in formula will be more cost-effective than me quitting my job to stay home and BF.

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            The government isn’t exactly helping women with formula through WIC. Formula companies are notorious for price fixing and get sued for it about every 5-10 years. The first time formula companies were sued over this the government did not know what to do about the money part of the suit because it wasn’t the governments money. Anyway, some smart person thought they should make the companies pay in product and distribute the product to low income families through a food program for pregnant women that was already established. I remember when the government sued the cereal companies for price fixing in the 1980s. The award was astronomical and that is why to this day WIC still offers a lot of cereal.

          • me

            But if you’ve chosen to SAH (and I don’t know anyone who chose to SAH for the sole reason of “being able to bf”) then you are spending time feeding the baby either way. The cost difference will be seen in other areas, not so much in your time. Now, sure, if your job precludes bfing and you would have to quit working in order to do it, you must factor that in, but if you SAH your time is already “spent” and you aren’t getting paid regardless of feeding method. And it’s not as tho no one in the history of the world has WOH and managed to still bf. Hell, use combo feeding and you can get the best of both worlds….

          • quadrophenic

            I think what people are getting at is the opportunity cost and not just whether you’re a SAHM etc. While I was on leave, I tried desperately to get my baby to latch for about 5 weeks before giving up. I stopped and exclusively pumped for the rest of my 11 weeks off. Now looking back (putting aside the bundle of money I spent trying to get a latch and pumping) the cost of my time getting my baby breastmilk one way or another is measured in time I could have had with my baby, not money. If I had older children, it would cost me time away from them.

            We accept all sorts of modern conveniences to give ourselves more time in one way or another and find that valuable. Like a dishwasher – it costs money but its much quicker than washing by hand, so it’s worth it. Now if course if you have an idea that what you’re doing is better for you in some way then the balance shifts – like the time spent dealing with cloth diapers isn’t as much of a sacrifice to you because you like them, and maybe you also benefit from enjoying the environmental aspect. That’s fine and part of your value too.

            Making baby food is like that too – for me, I work but also hate cooking. I’m terrible at meal planning and honestly don’t know how to make a cheap easy meal that saves enough money to make it a more economical choice than pre-made. I’m actually talking about food in general because I’m sure baby food isn’t that hard (it’s not that expensive ready made either) – I will never enjoy cooking so the time spent doing something else is valuable. Now say you love cooking, well, your cost of cooking will be lower since its not pure labor, it has other value you place on it as well. But cooking and scrubbing toilets are about even for me.

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            What are you talking about?

          • I don’t have a creative name

            “Does Sullivan the Poop hire out her own laundry?”

            For some reason this sentence is hilarious to me.

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            Well, since no one said that except you I am not sure what to tell you.

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            Exactly! Also, it is hard for me to imagine a job that would suck all your income in childcare. I had a friend whose husband worked during the day and she worked four nights a week as a server at a restaurant. I think she worked 22 hours a week and made $33,000. Even if she needed childcare I doubt any daycare costs $33,000 a year.

        • fiftyfifty1

          But you said so yourself! After paying for the things a person needs to pay for in order to work (in your case daycare and gas) you told us your “entire paycheck would have gone”. In other words, your time outside the home working would be worth nothing (i.e. would net nothing for your family). Only in cases such as yours where your job skills are worth very little on the market, can doing labor intensive tasks inside the home rather than working for wages save you money. It’s not an insult, it’s economics 101.

        • Sullivan ThePoop

          How is the truth insulting?

      • Box of Salt

        Ah! As I work my way through the comments at the end of a long, I find you’ve already made my point.

    • Amy

      I did all of those things, exactly for those reasons (other than unmedicated vaginal birth…I have insurance so birth was irrelevant to my wallet). But I breastfed because it is free. I was lucky enough not to need LCs.

      I stayed home because my entire paycheck would have gone to daycare and gas, and my job wasn’t anywhere near fulfilling enough to justify time away from my child with no financial gain to show for it.

      I cloth diaper because OMG have you seen them?! They are infinitely cuter than disposables, not to mention they are about one thousand times more effective at containing infant blowouts.

      Making my own baby food was fun. Plus baby food is just nasty. For the most part, I mushed up things I was already making for myself, so no sweat there.

      I co-slept with both of my babies, because that is how I got enough sleep not to die.

      I wore my babies a lot in the early months because it was the easiest way for me to get things done around the house. Also easier at the grocery store before they are able to sit in the cart.

      All of those things on paper may classify me as AP to someone from the outside, but in reality, all of those things just WORK for me and my family.

    • LukesCook

      Except not every vaginal birth turns out uncomplicated, and the costs of those that go wrong, both short and long term, must be factored in.

    • Honestly, I don’t think many people use a sling instead of a pram. Most people buy both. Anyway, you can get a lot of baby stuff second hand or gifted.

    • Box of Salt

      guest, all of those things “cost” less only if the mother’s time is worth nothing.

      As for “I agree that attachment parenting is right only if it works for mom” – what about the baby?

      • Box of Salt

        Replying to self, which may clarify my perspective:

        All the money I spent on baby wearing slings was wasted until I had my second child, who actually liked being held in one.

        And also: uncomplicated vaginal birth may cost less, but it’s not a choice.

        • Box of Salt

          Replying to myself again:

          Now that I’ve read the rest of the comments, I have a message for Amy: those of us who are pointing out that a woman’s time has value are NOT the ones demeaning your choices.

          I value your time – it’s the guest to whom I responded who is adding the “costs less” label to it.

    • thepixiechick

      I have plenty of friends who have spent literally thousands of dollars on wraps – look up Pamir. The thing at the moment is to buy an expensive wrap and then pay someone to cut it up and turn it into a carrier.

  • AmyM

    Cue the people who will say “Attachment parenting is based on attachment theory! One doesn’t have to follow everything Dr. Sears suggests, so practicing AP is actually feminist” vs the “You have to go WAYYYYY beyond the basic “Bs”/Dr.Sears to be a real attachment parent.”

    Why are they so obsessed with labels? I am a parent. I share bonds with my children. I go to work every day, yet my children still run to me shouting “Mommy!” when I go pick them up at daycare. I suppose I’d be considered a “mainstream working mother” but I ust think I’m a mother, among other things.

    • Squillo

      Yes, this.

      “Attachment Parenting” is a brand name.

    • AnonHere

      Well, no one needs to emphasize that the AP’ers and NB’ers are out to lunch, but “attachment parenting” has little in common with attachment theory. I don’t think Bowlby or any other psychologists advancing attachment theory had much to say about babywearing and nursing kids until they reach puberty.

      • AmyM

        Oh I know that…I was actually thinking of a friend of mine who insisted that she did not adhere to Dr.Sears to the letter, and that her parenting was based on the Bowlby attachment theory. When I asked if I was an attachment parent then, despite formula feeding, stroller pushing, babies in cribs in their own room and going back to work after 3mos, she said no. According to her I couldn”t possibly be AP unless I did at least what she did (breastfeed, cosleep, use sling). Even though we both responded to our children’s physical and emotional needs. Evidently, I didn’t respond to their needs correctly. 🙂 Anyway, my friend’s daughter is 10 now, and she (my friend) still considers herself an attachment parent, even though she went back to work eventually and the girl weaned around 2, and has her own room, etc.

    • fiftyfifty1

      ” yet my children still run to me shouting “Mommy!” when I go pick them up at daycare.”
      Sometimes mine did too. But sometimes they ran away and said “Not yet, not yet, we’re having fun!”

      • CarolynTheRed

        I want that for my daughter. I want her to love her school, and her daycare if we use one. I want her to like her babysitter or her nanny, and have a loving relationship that isn’t exactly like her relationship with me. I want her to enjoy some activity I’ve never done that she can tell me all about. I want for her to teach me new songs.

        Basically, I want for her world to be big enough to enlarge my own.

        • Sue

          It’s a great balance is when they don’t want you to leave when you drop them off, but they don’t want to leave when it’s time to go. They love you, they have fun with their friends. What could be better?

          • LukesCook

            No, the other way round. My son is delighted when I drop him off and delighted when I fetch him. When he’s not being Two that is.

    • Sue

      They also misunderstand that the psychological work around attachment looks at the damage done by severe neglect of the Romanian orphanage type – not whether a child of loving parents has to sleep in the next room.

      • Amy Tuteur, MD

        Attachment parenting has nothing to do with attachment theory as developed by Bowlby, Ainsley, etc. Attachment theory is that all a child needs for attachment is a “good enough” mother, NOT a perfect, always available, always ready to meet your every need mother.

        • KarenJJ

          That’s why I’ve always loved theadequatemother’s username. AP seems to be about trying to put more and more layers of icing on the motherhood cake. Pointless. It should be about choosing between more options that work for your family – not trying to do more and more work for less and less gain.

  • Anonomom, LLLL, IBCLC

    I personally feel like my children have been victimized by AP. I was told that exclusive and long-term breastfeeding, cosleeping and plenty of babywearing would produce more secure and independent kids. Instead, my kids never wanted to be separated from me, and I dont blame them — no one else could feed or soothe them, because they were only used to the breast. It was incredibly hard on them and on me to teach them to sleep in their own beds.

    My 6-year-old remembers breastfeeding, and she told me flat out “Mommy, you shouldn’t have milked me until I was 4, because if you had stopped when everyone else does, I wouldn’t remember and miss it so much.” Ouch.

    It’s hard for me to admit I was suckered in, and that my kids have suffered from it. I know other AP parent would tell me that I must not have done AP right, or else the kids certainly would have been more secure and independent, but I know that is BS. What would have made them more secure, would be knowing that lots of people could take care of them, and that they are safe even in their cribs in a different room from me.

    • FormerPhysicist

      Thank you for those insights. I think these insights need to be shared widely – though I’m not putting it on you to do so.

    • AmyM

      You are not the only person I have (heard/read) say that. Though, not too many hardcore APers would. When I was on maternity leave, and trying to breastfeed, I went to Kellymom. It had some good tips with regard to breastfeeding and it also had AP forums. So, I went to check those out, and the number one topic/complaint was about cosleeping—either the father wasn’t cool with it, or the baby/child wasn’t cool with it, but the advice to the mother was always “Hang in there, Mama! This too, shall pass!” To me, it looked like they were persisting in doing something that wasn’t making anyone happy because they believed that cosleeping is best, and they must provide the best at all costs.

      • AmyM

        Just to clarify–I don;’t think cosleeping is best, I think each family has to figure out what works for them, but according to AP philosophy, cosleeping is best.

        • Laura

          I was rigid with my first 5 babies about having them sleep in their own cribs and in their own rooms even. I was crazy-tired out of my mind for the first couple of months with each of them. All five were on relatively predictable sleep schedules and sleeping through the night by about 3-4 months. The 6th one, however, was an entirely different story. I had a very bad birth with her and couldn’t handle the discipline of a schedule, even a loose one. She slept with us for a long time. I was not really exhausted with her during that newborn period like I had been with the others. But by 6 months I was crazy out of my mind tired from not having slept really well for 6 months. It has taken a long time to get her out of our bed.I did the best I could with her but know that for me the “scheduled approach” was best for my temperament and family needs. I am not a big fan or advocate of co-sleeping, but certainly understand why some people might choose it by default.

      • me

        That’s nuts. Yes, cosleeping has worked well in my family, and I think it’s a great idea for those interested, assuming it does work for them. No, my husband isn’t thrilled to share a bed with the baby, but even less thrilling would be waking up several times a night listening to the baby cry, lol. For us, cosleeping maximizes the amount of sleep *everyone* gets. But, then, I put limits on it. At about 15-18 months I begin the transition to their own beds. It is a process, and it does take time (about 3-4 months with my first, 6 months with my second) to have them STTN in their own rooms, but by age 2, we are back to a “parents only” bed. If I insisted on keeping it up for 4+ years, I’m sure my husband would be a lot less okay with it, lol. But if the KID doesn’t want to sleep with mommy and she makes him/her??!! WTF? Just WTF? That’s just crazy. And so NOT what AP is supposed to be about. It’s supposed to be about meeting your child’s needs, not strictly following some magic formula….

      • Jessica

        I stumbled across a post on the Attachment Parenting board on The Bump, where the woman was suspicious that her MIL, who’d watched Precious Darling one night, had *gasp* let Precious Darling cry it out. She was distraught and very upset. I couldn’t figure out why – as she put it, when Precious Darling returned from MIL’s she actually slept through the night. I wanted to post to tell that woman to lighten the F up, but restrained myself.

      • anon

        I WISH I could make a baby that wasn’t a requisite co-sleeper. I am so not into it. My husband and I forced the issue with our first and did not sleep for two months. With my second and again with my third, I muttered, oh goddamnit, to myself, and brought the baby in bed with me, because I had other kids to consider and couldn’t be a walking zombie for months on end. Eventually my older learned to sleep on her own (around four months old), but let me tell you: if I could have gotten even a WINK of sleep with them in their own beds, they would never, ever dip a toe in mine. Uch. It’s crowded and uncomfortable and nerve-wracking, I don’t get why it’s so many peoples’ first choice.

    • R T

      I don’t think you can blame that on AP! It’s just her personality! My parents were AP to the MAX and I couldn’t wait to get away from them, lol!

      • Lisa from NY

        “I left home at 16 and never looked back!”

        Wow.

      • suchende

        I self-weaned too. I really wonder how many of these AP extremist moms are forcing the boob on their kids past a certain age.

    • Amyp

      “My 6-year-old remembers breastfeeding, and she told me flat out “Mommy, you shouldn’t have milked me until I was 4, because if you had stopped when everyone else does, I wouldn’t remember and miss it so much.” Ouch.”

      That’s so sad. This reminds me of a scene from The Last Emperor where the hero is distraught at being finally separated from his wet nurse at an advanced age.

      • fiftyfifty1

        “That’s so sad”
        Ehh, she’ll find the strength to pull through…

        • Anonomom, LLLL, IBCLC

          Thank you. You’re probably right. Apparently she has absorbed the cultural message that everything is Mommy’s fault, lol.

          • An Actual Attorney

            They learn to push buttons very early. They are amazing at knowing your “guilty spots.” They zero in like heat-seeking missiles.

          • Susan

            My thought too. Six year olds are very capable of manipulation of that sort.

    • Charlotte

      I hated that my parents did all that AP crap with me – I couldn’t fall asleep anywhere but my parent’s bed until I was eleven. ELEVEN. Never in my life did I ever get a wink of sleep at a slumber party, camping, or any kid of overnight activity. It was awful. They also thought it was cruel to take away a child’s pacifiers because of the distress it caused, so I used mine until I was nine years old and my teeth are still messed up even after braces. They also never gave me chores or used anything but soft, crunchy not-quite-effective discipline methods, so I had a steep learning curve when it was finally time to grow up and get out in the real world. The most frustrating part of it all was a conversation I had about my experiences with a group of what turned out to be AP fanatics who asked me how I could possibly now that what my parents did was harmful to me. Excuse me? I know because I had to live with the aftermath.

      • Amy

        I’m not sure why this got voted down…but I hear you on the lack of discipline/chores thing. Almost FIVE years into my marriage/homeownership/SAHM I am STILL struggling with self discipline in doing what needs to be done to keep our house in order. It’s frustrating. I realize it’s not 100% my parents’ fault. I am 25 and should be able to do things like clean the kitchen every day. But I can’t help but feel like it would have been a lot easier if I had grown up with responsibilities and chores.

        • fiftyfifty1

          I also wondered for awhile why I didn’t seem able to get myself to clean the kitchen every day. Although in my case I never blamed not having enough chores as a kid because I had plenty. But then I figured out that the reason is that cleaning the kitchen is a total drag and also that the kitchen doesn’t actually need to be cleaned every day.

        • Breastfeeding Without BS

          I’m not actually the voter-downer, but I guess I am one of those people who is highly skeptical that parenting “methods” have much influence on long-term personality development. I don’t think inability to chores as an adult is caused by parenting style. I’m with Judith Rich Harris on this one (I agree about the pacifier thing though–those things, overused, can cause real problems for teeth).

          • Renee Martin

            Inability to do chores has a LOT with how your were raised. If you never had to do anything for yourself, it’s harder to learn than you would think. It took me years to be able to get basic stuff done.

          • Only my own anecdata, but I was raised by a SAHM who never made me do anything, and honestly I’m pretty damn good at getting the housework done. Just sitting down now after scrubbing the kitchen, as it happens :D.

          • me

            “…but I was raised by a SAHM who never made me do anything, and honestly I’m pretty damn good at getting the housework done.”

            This. I remember asking my parents for chores at 8 years old (mostly because I wanted an allowance and figured I’d have a better shot at it if I was working for it, lol). I don’t have any trouble keeping up on the housework (really, it’s a finite space – a little organization and a schedule and you’re halfway there). But I think it boils down to how much initiative you have and how well you do as being “self employed” (there is no “boss” telling you what to do and you aren’t being evaluated or anything, so maybe the lack of accountability to anyone external is the issue). I hate having the house a wreck, so I clean it. I’m not Martha Stewart (nor do I try to be), but keeping the house basically clean is not that big a deal for me.

          • KarenJJ

            One of the biggest revelations I’ve had as an adult is that I can pay someone to do stuff for me.
            Tax forms and cleaning: *poof* and they disappeared!

            OT but one of my favourite people is the person who I pay to clean my house. She’s like Mary Poppins – really upbeat and very neat and tidy. The sort of person my mum and dad were trying to get me to be but I just had no interest.

          • Something From Nothing

            Ok, but did your SAHM keep an immaculate house? Even if you didn’t have to do chores ( I really didn’t either), I think if you grew up in a really neat and tidy home, that gets into your psyche and you will have a strong tendency to keep a neat and tidy home. Or, maybe, like me, you just feel constantly dissatisfied that you can’t seem to get your shit together to have a neat and tidy home, so you work to become good at cleaning to satisfy that need. It’s weird, but I find housework immensely therapeutic.

          • Guestl

            I agree with the above. I grew up in an extremely clean, orderly home. Both of my parents (not just my mother!) are and were tidy people. All four children were expected to participate, and that, I think, is the clincher.
            My husband grew up in an equally clean, orderly home, but neither he nor his twin were expected to do ANYTHING. When their mother died, the boys were 22 years old, attending university, and living at home. And for about two weeks, nobody (Dad, boys) did any laundry, changed a toilet paper roll, picked up after themselves — grief, to be sure, but also — they had no idea. To this day, he likes and expects tidiness and order — but has little inclination to do much about it — which is why we now have a housekeeper who comes once a week. 😉

          • Amy

            Yes, this times a million. And it’s not just about how you were raised. I am really smart when it comes to basic school intelligence, and also can recall stuff really easily. I sailed through school with straight As without lifting a finger. Then I got to college and I had to make myself do things, make myself go to my classes, etc etc. And it was hard! I got spoiled by how easy grade school was. Just like I was spoiled by not ever having to clean my own bathroom, do my laundry, vacuum, anything. I learned nothing about time management, or working for something.

        • anonomom

          Perhaps you can’t bring yourself to do it because deep down you know it’s unnecessary? What are you doing in your kitchen that would require a full-out cleaning every single day? Would there be any serious consequences (or any consequences at all) if you do it twice a week or less? This seems to be an example of ‘stretching out’ the amount of work to fill the entire day. That you feel compelled to beat yourself up over not getting it all done is doulby sad.

          • Thepixiechick

            Umm… I can’t answer for others, but I cook in my kitchen every day, so dishes need to be washed, benches wiped, food put away. That seems necessary to me – am I misunderstanding what people mean here?

          • Anonomom

            Ack. Disqus is messing up. I did not write some of these comments attributed to me, such as the one above.

          • anonomom

            I thought she meant vaccuming, mopping the floor etc, because she says she’s having trouble getting herself to do it. The stuff you mentioned gets done ‘automatically’ as part of the cooking process. For me, it doesn’t fall in the ‘cleaning’ category.

          • Therese

            Washing dishes gets done automatically as part of the cooking process? Well, that is awesome for you, but for us clean-impaired folks things like that just don’t happen automatically, unfortunately. Which is what our whole problem is. If we just automatically cleaned up after ourselves we wouldn’t get these gigantic messes to begin with.

          • Dr Kitty

            I cook, my husband does the dishes (i.e. loads the machine) and the cleanup and puts out the rubbish. I have a cleaner who comes every week and does the vacuuming, floors, bathrooms etc (because that is 3 hours a week we can spend NOT cleaning, which is worth it). We do laundry, make the beds, tidy toys, clean spills etc as needed.

            I work an average of 1 to 2 hours a day more than my husband. There is no way I’m coming home and doing all the cleaning and cooking on top of that, so we’ve divided up the chores in a way that suits us, and decided that getting someone to help with the bigger jobs is worth the expense.

            I grew up with my parents and grandmother. My grandmother was used to having a household of servants, and had very specific ideas of how to run a household, and basically ran my parents’ house using us to do the work! So, while part of me really wants to clean the bathroom tiles with an old toothbrush every week, and wash the walls with soap once a month, I realise that actually, I have better things to be doing, and those jobs can wait.

          • Amy

            For some reason, cleaning the kitchen as-I-go only works when I’m baking, not cooking. Wish I knew why!

          • Amy

            Unfortunately for me, I cook meat 2 two three times a day, and so grease splatters everywhere, and I SHOULD clean my kitchen twice a day some days! If I let it go without cleaning it for a day or two, it looks like a tornado hit it. It drives my husband bonkers.

            I am tired from running after our kids all day and couldn’t really give a shit less what the kitchen looks like as long as I don’t have roaches crawling around. But my husband comes home from a long day at work and understandably is not thrilled to walk straight into a grease splattered, dirty dishes everywhere, crumbs on the counters messy kitchen.

        • Yammy

          Honestly, I do think a good portion of it is nature as well, at least when I think about me and my older sister. I don’t mind a little mess and or a spot of grime, but I start to get anxious when my room or the kitchen or whatever starts becoming disorganized. I have a strong paranoia about attracting bugs. So I tend to run through everything over the course a week. My sister? Complete disaster queen. Might give the kitchen or a bathroom a once over every couple of months. I know her habits were there in the early days– for example, I distinctly remember when we were kids that my sister would always get up and leave a game we were finished playing behind for me to pick up and put away. I always got SO MAD at that. LOL

          My parents didn’t do AP, and didn’t dump a whole lot of chores on us, but always made us responsible for our rooms and to always pick up after ourselves. At the very least they taught us HOW to do cleaning tasks. However, I can’t explain why the need to clean stuck with me more than my sister other than differences in personalities.

      • yentavegan

        i was a devotee of the attachment parenting life style. I have the best kids in the world. But because I was unwilling to pump and store breastmilk I deprived my children of having a close loving relationship with my parents. My parents have memories of overnight babysitting all my nieces and nephews. my parents had the opportunity to love and nurture all their other grandchildren while they were still infants and babies. That closeness lasted all the way through their grandchildren’s college years. and til my fathers death. It was at my own dad’s funeral that it dawned on me, my, kids were not as lovingly connected to my parents as their cousins. it was my blind devotion to attachment parenting that prevented me from making room for my parents to bond with my children.
        I can not undo this horrible mistake.

        • Therese

          I don’t understand why you couldn’t let your kids spend the night with their grandparents once they were weaned? I was extremely close to my grandparents growing up, but I didn’t spend the night with them until I was older, 4 or 5? I didn’t even live on the same continent as them until I was 3. I don’t feel it had any effect on our long term relationship.

          It seems like you’re still attaching way too much importance to choices made for babies. Just like going back to work isn’t going to hurt a baby’s attachment to its mother, not having overnights with the grandparents as infants isn’t going to damage their relationship for the rest of their lives.

          • yentavegan

            my children are part of a crew of 17 grandchildren. Because I did not establish this overnight adventures for my parents, they had overnights with my siblings children. someone was always having a baby and/or needing quality infant overnight babysitting. I made the error of not scheduling dates with my hubby b/c for the 18 years of our marriage I was nursing someone, or AP with a pre-schooloer. My parents, who are the best parents a person could ask for. inadvertently rejected by me due to my constant hands-on parenting.

          • yentavegan

            then my Dad died, so I could not fix my error. My kids were not sobbing or swapping “Poppy” storeis with their cousins b/c I never afforded my dad one on one time with my kids, and I do blame AP. I praise my niece, who is now a mother, for pumping and storing her milk b/c her infant has had overnights with my brother and sister-in-law.

          • Susan

            What a sad post Yenta. Regrets are terrible things.

          • Charlotte

            That is so heartbreaking. I never knew any of my grandparents, and I do feel like I missed out when people talk about a grandparent’s love is like nothing else and I can’t even begin to fathom what they are talking about. The concept has absolutely no meaning for me. Wanting my children to know their grandparents was a factor for me having my kids in my 20s, because the reason I never knew mine was because my parents waiting until their 40s.

          • AmyP

            Yeah, my mom didn’t allow overnights at grandma’s until 4 or 5, and it didn’t damage the relationship. I try to talk to my grandparents a couple times a week and I think I’m a favorite. .

            However, I was an oldest grandchild (my cousins were mostly substantially younger), so your mileage may vary.

          • Amazed

            Yenta writes ”I never afforded my dad one on one time with my kids”. I take that to mean that her children weren’t encouraged to spend time with their grandparents alone until they were quite older. One to one time does create a relationship that is quite strong (and a bit lacking with my other grandmother) but it needs to happen while children are still children. My impression is that AP doesn’t encourage closeness to anyone but the parents. In fact, it discourages it since it promulgates the belief that a child only needs his/her parents and I think that’s horribly untrue.

      • I have four kids ranging from thirteen to eight months, all “AP’d”, and all but the youngest sleep in their own beds (the oldest two in their own rooms). I see no evidence for this dynamic in my own family whatsoever, and by the way my kids never had pacifiers, have to do chores, and are disciplined (just not by being hit or “spanked”).

        MANY people who believe in AP take it too far to the level of permissive parenting with no discipline, and it unfortunately reflects poorly on the philosophy, giving it a bad image. My kids always get perfect conduct marks at school and are complimented by nearly every adult that meets them for their good manners. It drives me crazy that so many people conflate AP with lack of discipline, ugh!

        • Renee Martin

          You conflate AP with normal parenting. It’s a common mistake, as AP has co-opted good parenting strategies, and added their crap on top.

        • Laura

          Congratulations, Alan on your great kids. I agree that many people want to lump everything together because it is easier to label and generalize. I think each family has unique dynamics that should be looked at individually. I am curious if any credible studies have been done on long-term patterns noted in kids regrading AP parenting techniques. I’m sure it’s been mentioned here and I must have missed it!

          • Thanks, Laura!

            I think one problem with doing longitudinal studies on kids who have been “AP’d” is that it encompasses such a broad range of parenting techniques, and many people apply it in a way I would call “incorrect” (if we are going to stipulate that the Sears books are the “bible” for the “correct” approach).

            Or another way to look at it is that they have invented their own version of “AP” which is radically different in some ways than mine–and in many ways a poor way to raise a child. Not as poor as beating kids, verbally abusing them, applying excessive and arbitrary authoritarianism to them, or just flat-out neglecting them, but still not a good approach, especially given how much energy and thought is put into it.

            I’m talking about things like never disciplining or even verbally correcting children who act inappropriately or even violently; or insisting on “unschooling” with no structure whatsoever (so if they don’t feel like learning math, for instance, they just won’t learn it), or sending kids to creepy, cultish “Waldorf” schools. There are some wacky, uber-crunchy ideas out there, and I try to keep sticking up for a moderate, sane version of AP while disassociating myself from the cray-cray.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            You seem to have missed the central point about AP, Alan: there’s no evidence to support it.

            If that’s the style of parenting you prefer and that’s what works for your family, terrific. But don’t pretend to us and don’t pretend to yourself, that you have discovered a science based system that is more likely to produce well adjusted children than any other way of raising children, because you haven’t.

            You do, however, illustrate just why such a ridiculous system has caught on. Just like much of pseudoscience, it takes a complicated issue (parenting) reduces it to a simple formula, and heaps copious praise on those who adopt the formula.

            AP is based on nonsense. It was made up by Sears to make money and that’s what it does. It is a multimillion dollar industry designed to move product. It is also based on a retrograde notion of the role of women as individuals and mothers, which is not surprising since Sears is a religious conservative who shares many fundamentalist beliefs about the “appropriate” role of women.

            Your gullibility in believing that you are following an effective parenting practice based on scientific evidence is just another example of how lay people who know nothing about science love to preen to themselves and others that they have some special secret knowledge known only to the true believers.

          • What makes you so sure I am a layman who knows nothing about science?

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            Everything you’ve written thusfar.

          • And of course there is no confirmation bias operating in that supremely dispassionate, truth-seeking brain of yours…right? 😉 You are a real hoot.

            BTW did you intend your blog title to make it look like you are calling yourself an SOB? Doesn’t fit genderwise, but it is notable nonetheless.

          • Siri

            Ah, name-calling – the hallmark of the true man of science. Such wit and originality too… You are the first to make that side-splitting SOB joke!!

          • Not a joke, as it doesn’t really make sense as I noted. Just a quizzical observation about a strange choice for a logo. Did she really not see “SOB” spelled out? And seriously: “name calling”? I’m calling her a “son of a —–“? C’mon now. Give me a little more credit than that, jeez…

          • LukesCook

            So what was it that you were suggesting that “SOB” signifies?

          • Just pointing out its weirdness, wondering why she chose that.

          • disqus_61tNDsHTqn

            “BTW did you intend your blog title to make it look like you are calling yourself an SOB?”

            Ahh…Hilarious redemption for the five minutes i wasted on this tedious exchange. =)

            Alan. There is this thing called not taking oneself too seriously.

            – S

          • DiomedesV

            Also, if in the course of defending your supposedly “science-based” parenting system, you find yourself claiming that properly designed longitudinal studies could never be relied upon to detect differences between kids raised your way vs. another way…. then maybe you need to rethink what the term “science” means and what place it really has in your decision making process.

          • My point is that there is too much variation in what is called attachment parenting for it to be compared to other ways of childrearing. The majority of self-styled attachment parents I see on message boards, on Twitter, etc. do not parent their kids in a way that I consider appropriate.

            There is however ample evidence that parenting in an authoritarian style is not the healthiest for children; neither is overly permissive parenting. The sweet spot lies in what is called authoritative parenting, which I feel describes my own style very well.

            http://www.parentingscience.com/authoritative-parenting-style.html

          • Rebecca

            Wow, Alan. Who would have ever guessed that a middle-of-the road approach to parenting, where the parent demonstrates empathetic leadership, would be the most effective? You’ve really blown my mind here.

          • Do you really think this represents the norm, or even the most common approach?

          • Sue

            Alan – you say “one problem with doing longitudinal studies on kids who have been “AP’d” is that it encompasses such a broad range of parenting techniques.” Could that mean that there is actually no such category as non-extreme “AP”?

            Consider this: maybe there is no need for a special name for the broad range of parenting that falls somewhere between the two poles of extreme neglect and pathologically obsessional.

            As Amy keeps pointing out, the psychological phenomena relating to attachment have been studies in cases of extreme neglect (like severely psychotic or depressed parents or living in a Romanian orphanage). The parenting industry has co-opted the terminology, but there is no evidence that the details make that much difference – once kids are shown love by a primary carer or group of carers and their needs are met, they get a tick for attachment.

          • One of the studies I linked to showed that it made a significant difference if mothers were encouraged to use a carrier that snuggled the baby against their body instead of carrying them in a carseat-type deal with a handle.

            Here in the “heartland”, the latter type of carrier is the norm. The typical family with a baby arrives at the supermarket, unclips the baby carrier from the base of the car seat, carries it by the handle into the store, then clips it into the shopping cart. While they shop, they may put in a pacifier, or feed a bottle (occasionally, but not rarely enough, containing a bright red liquid, Kool-Aid or somesuch godawful substance). Then they check out, carry the seat by the handle back to the car, clip it back into the base, and drive away. The entire time, the baby has not been touched by human hands, not even through clothing much less skin to skin. It breaks my heart every time, but sadly, around here at least, that is the mainstream way babies are reared.

            So maybe where you live, sensible attachment parenting is just common sense, and that’s wonderful if so; but I assure you, there are vast pockets of the American landscape where that is far from the case.

          • MomMD

            Don’t you think this is a little over the top? Apparently it’s not enough that mothers have to give up their careers and devote 24 hours of every day for the first 5 years of their child’s life to breastfeeding in order to be an acceptable parent. , We also clearly need to put a stop to these outrageously selfish practices called “leaving the house”, “grocery shopping” and ‘wearing clothes”. Because babies need skin-to-skin 24/7 dammit!

            It’s an intersesting twist on the ‘barefoot and pregnant’ theme: “Bare chested and pregnant”

          • Straw man. I said nothing about 24/7. I also have mentioned multiple times that I am a SAHD, and fathers are perfectly capable of skin to skin contact as well.

          • MomMD

            You are saying you find it appaling that people let a baby go without physical contact for the duration of a trip to the grocery store. For most people, a grocery store run takes under 30 mins.
            So what you are promoting IS basically 24/7, you just don’t want to call it that. How is this not an extreme parenting practice? And then I’m not even counting your statement that it’s preferable that the parent (I won’t say mother if you prefer that), be naked from the waist up for all this physical contact. It’s incompatible with leading a normal productive life, even if you are a SAHM/D.

          • No, I am saying, repeatedly, that a small baby should not go an entire 30 minutes awake especially, near his or her parents, WITHOUT contact. And let’s not pretend that family gets home and then the nonstop cuddles begin–be serious.

          • Durango

            Are you really following parents around a grocery store for the entire time they’re there, clucking to yourself that they’re not touching their babies?

          • fiftyfifty1

            “Are you really following parents around a grocery store for the entire time they’re there, clucking to yourself that they’re not touching their babies? ”
            No, he is so busy having his “heart break” over the situation that he doesn’t have time to cluck until he gets home and logs onto the internet.
            Come on you guys, I don’t think we are giving Alan enough respect. Look at what he’s capable of. He’s a SAH AP dad of 4 kids. And unlike other families that AP wrong, Alan APs right. He told us so himself. AND he is able to constantly interact with his baby while also serving as a prolific poster here on SOB. I just wish there was some way to spread his wisdom to the other families of the Heartland. Then they, like he, would hardly ever need to tap into their WIC formula supply.

          • Dr Kitty

            I put my infant on a shopping trolley in her carseat.
            But I’d talk to her, kiss her, stroke her feet or face or hands all the while.I don’t believe others do anything differently, I find it hard to believe people wouldn’t look at or comfort their babies.

            I quite liked having her at that height, she could see my face, and everything else around her.
            Better than a view of my boob I would have thought.

            My kid is asleep BTW, different time zones are fun.

          • Susan

            Well, I suppose comparing Good Day Sunshine and Alan is a bit like comparing a liver transplant to hormone replacement therapy but – I don’t think Alan is making it all up as he does along and I haven’t wondered if I am arguing with a Poe when engaging him.

          • Not following, just noticing. @@

          • How small a baby? Probably unlikely that a wakeful tiny would go 30 minutes – but I am pretty sure mine did occasionally when they were older. What constitutes contact? Will pat -a- cake, soothing, stroking do or does it have to be full body?

            Pretty sure I wouldn’t qualify as perfect in your book, or anybody else’s maybe. But I never quite thought that perfect was my goal – as good as I could. and I can now look back and think that perhaps there are some things I might do differently. Also sure that “authoritive” would not be the model I would choose. More like muddle though and hope for the best, as I would seriously doubt that there is one way that always works.

          • Why would you reject “authoritative”?

          • Why would you reject “authoritative”?

            Kneejerk. Dislike of experts whose expertise lies in an overconfident assumption of their own rightness rather than in any solid, reliable body of knowledge.

            I do not see myself as an authority on the one true way to raise children. Like most people, I love them and try to do what I hope may be appropriate. Like most people, I have some fixed views. Like most people, I can on occasions feel that others are doing it wrong. Think it is pretty difficult to be 100% right 100% of the time. Generally adopt a pragmatic rather than theoretical approach.

          • But authoritative parenting isn’t a system someone invented. It’s a descriptor, like Myers-Briggs in a way, except that this grid only has four quadrants: authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and uninvolved.

          • Anonomom

            So if a baby is happily looking as his mobile and cooing, I should interrupt him at the 30-minute mark for “contact”? Good to know.

          • It’s not always about whether a baby is happy or sad, though it is often about that. Dr. Sears talks about children getting stimulation from objects like mobiles, and comfort from things like plush animals, instead of from their parents and siblings and broader kinship group. None of my kids have ever had a “lovey”, because their parents and siblings serve that function. If you think it is just as good for the baby to get attached to plastic or polyester products from the store as to their human family, just as good to be rocked by a motorised plastic swing as by a father’s arms, we simply have different worldviews.

          • Box of Salt

            Alan, re “children getting stimulation from objects like mobiles, and comfort from things like plush animals, instead of from their parents and siblings and broader kinship group. None of my kids have ever had a “lovey”, because their parents and siblings serve that function.”

            Alan, you have it wrong. The lovey is *in addition* to the parents, et al. As far as I can tell, my son considers his lovey part of the family (think Calvin and Hobbes).

            The purpose of the lovey is to help the child learn how to self-soothe – a skill which will be very important to them later in life, when their parents or siblings are no longer available 24/7.

            Perhaps you’re right that we have different worldviews. My goal is for my children to grow into self-sufficient adults.

          • My view is that “no (hu)man is an island” and that “self-sufficiency” is a myth created by a deeply misguided and selfish philosophy of individualism. So, yeah: different worldviews.

          • The idea that it has to be either/or seems a bit strange. As does the idea that there should be only one world view – yours.

            Wouldn’t have thought that one needs a world view to believe that babies need holding and cuddling – and that most of them get enough of it, one way or another.

            Never read, and never will read, Dr. Sears. Is it a baby book? Does he have views on the care of toddlers, school children as well? Teenagers? Does he ever allow for the possibility that parents can learn from their children, as well as they other way round? I always found the difference in temperaments quite fascinating myself – what works with one not necessarily universally applicable.

          • Why would you state “I never will read X”, and then ask questions about X? It’s obnoxious, frankly.

          • Well, Alan, like you I do not have much of a problem with being considered obnoxious by people I do not much care about. I will never read it, because I have no real reason to, and I imagine I would find it irritating. (I am talking about reading, not skimming. I might do that if I came across a copy – and I might find bits I agree with and bits I don’t.) But as much of the discussion focuses on the very early days, I am mildly curious as to what it has to say about older children.

            Also out of idle curiosity, do you allow anything for the Nature side of child devolopment or is it all Nurture to you?

          • My sociologist friends would laugh uproariously at that as they think I am way too far over to the nature side. In fact I think the evidence keeps showing a roughly 50/50 split.

            There are Sears books for various ages of children. You should try looking at the previews on Amazon.com sometime; you might find that it is not what you expect. (Kind of like how people think they know what Freud is all about without reading him, and then discover his writings are not so “Freudian” as they had assumed.)

          • I did have a quick look – reluctantly, as I am pretty sure that it is not AT ALL like reading Freud. I would be the first to admit that my quick fragmented scan was not exactly sufficient – but I did easily confirm my biases. Words of one syllable stuff for the inexperienced, like many baby books. I did read a few of these when mine were little, and would say that most parents who read ANY are probably fairly responsible, and just go with the set of ideas that appeals to views they already hold. Nothing wrong with that – until you start insisting that your way is the only way and anyone who disagrees is doomed to dismal failure.

            I also looked at his web site, and clicked on the section Down’s Syndrome to find out his views on disabled children. One paragraph “We were surprised and it made us better people.” I think Freud might have done a BIT better than that. Strong impression he’s good at marketing. And the superficial.

          • I disagree, obviously; but at least this time you skimmed a bit before offering an opinion, one you are perfectly entitled to.

          • Your picture of infants untouched by human hand is, as it is meant to be, concerning. But how representative is it?

            I joined in this conversation round about the time my second grandchild was born. No internet when mine were little, and on the whole I think that was a plus. Not sure I would have joined in Mommy conversations then, but I don’t think it would have helped much. I have always been interested in children in general, and very aware of the shifting fashions, but I have been completely gobsmacked to find out how obsessive and repressive things have become. I had no idea that strollers were frowned on, for instance. I was superficially acquainted with AP, having read Bowlby when mine were little – and found it’s “Everything that goes wrong is mother’s fault” approach depressing – but not for long, when I gave it some serious thought.

            There have always been clueless, neglectful mothers who do not attend to their children. Your car seat/Kool Aid brigade are the modern day equivalent of those drawn by Hogarth feeding their babies gin. Must admit that the unclipped baby carrier, while practical in some respects, doesn’t seem to me that great an idea. But, presumably, you do not follow these mothers home. Maybe some leave their infants confined – but perhaps they don’t. You don’t seem to factor the babies in much – my experience is that infants do have their own ways of voicing discontent with being confined – whether in a seat they don’t want to be in, or being carried when they want to be put down.

            I had a high needs child who needed every bit of stimulation she could get – and I believe benefited from getting it. She liked to be snuggled and held in a sling – but keeping her there too long would have been a very bad idea. We spent far more time on the floor, exploring, reaching touching. She enjoyed being out in a stroller – but would make it very clear when she wanted to be lifted out. From my point of view, strollers were convenient, and enlarged my daughter’s perception of the world – but I missed the eye contact.

            In short, there is no one size fits all way of dealing with the individual needs and temperaments of our babies (my second hated the sling). I don’t think being clamped to my chest for large portions of time would have benefited my daughter that much. My first granddaughter was not over keen on being held for too long, and made it plain that she liked to sleep in her cot. She loved to cruise round the bars (yes, bars!) of a playpen much more than I liked using one.

            Like you, I grieve when I see what looks like a neglectful mother in public – but try not to make too many assumptions. I would also worry about the kind of mother afraid to let anyone else hold a baby, or who believes that crying causes brain damage – but children are resilient. We are all prone to adopting pet theories, and most of us don’t do too much harm.

          • I have made it very, very clear that many–even most–of the people who most vocally speak up for attachment parenting take it too far and in some unfortunate directions. It’s a good thing I’m thick-skinned and don’t mind debate, because I have been harshly attacked on AP blogs as well, for my sceptical attitudes towards the extreme levels of crunch. But I’m honestly not just going to look to pick a fight wherever I go; I stick up for exactly the same perspective I present here, which I think is reasonable, sensible, and humane.

            I think the area where I live, the crowd who treats the baby as a sort of modular plastic-encased accessory to be clipped in and out of vehicles, carts, swings, etc. is unfortunately all too representative. I blame this in part on the never ending capitalistic drive to sell consumers more and more convenience, even if convenience is not the be-all end-all of human interaction.

            If I can convince a few more people to try to breast-feed their baby, and/or to unwrap the baby and just put him or her directly against their bare chest from time to time, and/or to snuggle baby and carry them in a sling or just in arms even, I feel I’ve done some good in the world. Not only is it nicer for the baby, it feels good! That is part of what makes me sad: knowing that those parents do not get the same sensation of contact and connection with their babies that I do. And they probably don’t even know what they are missing.

          • auntbea

            The fact that you think breastfeeding, babywearing and skin-to-skin are good is not why people are arguing with you. They are arguing with you because you somehow think it is not only your place but your contribution to the world to convince other parents they are doing it wrong. You may or may be AP, but you ARE a sanctimonious douchenozzle.

          • Now Auntbea, let’s not call names. Remember Jesus said ”do unto others as you would have them do unto you” See, I’m a
            Christian, but not one of those extremist judgmental types. It’s just that when I see somebody doing something which I suppose to be un-Christian, I assume that they are living a life of sin devoid of all morality. It just makes me so sad that they are missing out on the love of Jesus and the happiness that only comes from Salvation. If they would only accept what I tell them, they would be so much better off. I’m sure some people might think that I’m being sanctimonious or be upset that I try and convince them using ridiculous exaggerated claims and backhanded insults. But, if I can spare at least one person from the pain of an eternity in hell, I’ve done my job.

            Disclaimer: statements in this post are for satirical purposes only.

          • Lol, I got a chuckle from that. I don’t mind being insulted if it is done with panache!

          • LukesCook

            “That is part of what makes me sad: knowing that those parents do not get the same sensation of contact and connection with their babies that I do. And they probably don’t even know what they are missing.”

            Nonsense. It’s you that is incapable of understanding the bond they have with their children – one that is truly responsive to the expressed needs of their babies and not based on empty symbolic gestures.

          • CarolynTheRed

            That’s it – he connects with his babies one way. Of course, any other way can’t be better!

          • I also live in the in heartland and this has not been my experience. My experience has been that the same women who use cars seat carriers are loving, attentive and carrying mothers who do lots of cuddling of their kids at places other than the grocery store. I think you are making a lot of assumptions. Even my sister who is into A/P and does extended breast feeding, co-sleeping etc uses a carrier. Your heart would break for my niece because my sister didn’t touch her during the limited time you observed her at the store? You say you are not an extreme attachment parent but, this seems extreme to me.

          • Aha, this is informative for those who found my little tale extreme or exaggerated. Instead of objecting to it by saying “oh come on: not very many people in real life really do that”, you are saying “sure, people do that–but what’s the big deal?” Not surprised at all that you too are from the “heartland”. (I would move out of here to a more enlightened area like the West Coast if it were possible, but it is not for a number of reasons I won’t get into.)

          • I’m sorry Allen but, I don’t see the big deal with putting your kid in a carrier for 30 minutes, I just don’t. And yes, I am from the heartland. One of you posts talked about Duluth MN–I grew up there. I’m not surprised to find that you think all of us are backward hillbillies but, I assure you it’s not the case.

          • fiftyfifty1

            Let’s imagine a January shopping trip with a baby in Duluth shall we?. It’s -10 deg F.

            AP: Dress baby in snow suit. Bring baby to car and strap into fixed car seat which has temp of -10, making sure metal parts do not contact baby’s skin (you will need to remove your mittens to do this). Drive to store. Now standing in the windy parking lot, unstrap baby from seat, throw a blanket over baby and run into store. Once inside store, strip off your parka and unbutton your wool shirt. Unbutton your union suit and bare your chest. Unzip the baby’s snow suit. Unzip and remove baby’s fleece suit. Unsnap and remove baby’s cotton suit and finally remove his onesie baring his skin. Place baby’s chest against yours. Secure child to chest using Organic Ethnic Wrap Product. Attempt to button Union suit over all of this. Store baby clothes, blanket,wool shirt and parka in cart. Put groceries in cart if there is still room. After shopping, unbutton union suit, undo Ethnic Wrap. Dress baby. Dress self. Throw blanket over baby and run to car. Strap baby into -10 deg car seat while standing in the wind. Drive home. Unstrap baby from fixed car seat and run into the house.

            vs. “The Situation that Breaks Alan’s Heart” : Strap baby into clip-on car seat inside the warm house. Cover car seat with special fleece tent-type topper. Clip into base in car (leave your mittens on). Unclip in parking lot. Clip carseat onto one of the carseat compatible shopping carts. Shop. Go back out to car. Go home.
            See, this proves it. Mainstream parents are stoopid and unloving compared to AP.
            .

          • Dr Kitty

            Alan, you wouldn’t know from seeing my child and I together that I have a spinal condition and my kid hated slings.
            But you’d have felt comfortable judging us, because she was in a carseat on my shopping trolley.

            Good for you.

          • CarolynTheRed

            You forgot trying to get the wrap from A to B without dragging it in the slush/snow/salt at least once a day.

            We’ve managed without the bucket seat in the cold, mostly by making most shopping trips baby-free adventures. Personal choice, since I’ve got a baby who’s heavy enough without a car seat, and who is a champion at “frequent pee and poop, with audible distress not relieved by any stay-dry technology”

          • As with all things there is a continuum, but I don’t understand leaving a baby for that length of time without being touched or held.

          • Sullivan ThePoop

            See, you started to have me thinking you were reasonable until this post. Your writing style makes the situation seem worse than it is, other than the silly kool-aid comment. Infants do not get stimulus from contact alone. It is good for them to get out and see things too. There is nothing wrong with a baby in a carrier going to the grocery store. That is just what I do with my twin nephews. In the store I have contact with them more times than I could count in the time it takes to shop and speak to them constantly. I have never in my life given a baby anything but milk/formula or water in a bottle. Your assumptions are just your way of bolstering your own ideology. If you need that much encouragement, you might be doing something wrong.

            The whole kool-aid story is nothing more than me saying how I always see people with Escalades and fancy clothes using food stamps. I have seen that, maybe twice.

          • Lynn

            I’m from the same town as Alan, and it is sadly not uncommon to see babies with koolaid in bottles, or even soda for toddlers. I’ve even seen two fathers carry children in carseats into the library, not bucket carseats with handles, but actual convertible seats, awkwardly propped against their hips, because that is how you carry a baby around here. It’s an interesting place to live, full of parenting contrasts.

          • Hi Lynn!

          • I don’t have a creative name

            Are you his wife?

          • No. My wife is lurking, but she is not as thick-skinned as Lynn and I are and is therefore reluctant to enter the fray. Perhaps I could prevail upon her to do so if y’all promise to play nice with her and save your most acid commentary for me?

          • Amy Tuteur, MD

            You’re also from the same IP address, which means that you are Alan’s wife or … Alan himself who knows so little about the internet that he thinks he can create a second identity to agree with the first and that the rest of us won’t figure it out.

          • Hah, I saw Dr. Amy’s comment before she deleted it, accusing us of having the same IP address before apparently realising her oopsie. Comedy gold!

          • Leica

            I don’t know where Alan lives, but when I was working as a nurse in rural Kentucky, soda in baby bottles was disturbingly common. We’d try to educate the parents over and over again with little effect.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            I can tell you something. Grocery shopping with the kids when they were in their carriers sitting in the shopping carts was not only not harmful to bonding, it was actually for me one of the best bonding times I had with the kids. I LOVED grocery shopping with them when they were babies. We had so much fun together. No, we weren’t touching, but in their carrier in the shopping cart, they are looking right at you, and you are looking right at them. We made contact with our eyes, not by touch, and it was intense. We laughed, we played games, we sang songs, we shopped.

            This was far, far, far, FAR more bonding than when I carried them around in a snugli doing “baby wearing.”

            I still like to go shopping with the kids, even now that they are older (although its better with one as opposed to both). We have a blast. It’s play time for us. We usually leave mom at home.

            If you think this is harmful, you are clueless. It’s that simple.

          • JC

            I completely agree with you, Bofa. I put the kids in the cart in their carrier, facing me. I talked to them and they cooed back at me. I, God forbid, fed them the occasional bottle. But I was engaging with them almost the entire time. A child separate from the parent’s body is not always a child not being loved. Yes, there are parents who seem distracted at the supermarket with their child in a carrier in the cart. But don’t assume you know anything about these parents or what they are like at home. I live in the “heartland” as well and I shop at Wal-Mart (to save money because I am a SAHM) and I have never seen koolaid fed to a baby in a bottle. I am not saying it never happens, just don’t act like it happens all the time. And when a baby is fed milk in a bottle, don’t assume it’s formula. It could very well be pumped breastmilk, which is not easy to do and is certainly not the sign of a lazy mom.

          • I said it was infrequent, but not rare enough, that’s all. I have seen it at least a dozen times over the years, and I have never seen anyone in an Escalade using food stamps. This is a distraction though from my main point. The point about the bottle is not so much what is in it (although if it is the mother feeding EBM, that is not only silly but helps undermine other mothers from feeling socially supported in BFIP) but that it, like the seat and its handle, means parent-baby contact is mediated by hard plastic that does not even indirectly transmit touch and warmth.

          • JC

            It’s “silly” to feed a baby breastmilk in a bottle? How, Alan, do you breastfeed in Wal-Mart while grocery shoppying? Seriously, are you even listening to yourself? I see many, many moms brestfeeding in public in my city. I have never seen a dirty look or a harsh word about it. Many moms pump so that they can do things like grocery shop and feed the baby. Many moms pump so dad or another family member can feed the baby sometimes. This is what irritates me about AP … it is all or nothing. So if the mom breastfeeds 90% of the time she can’t pump and go out by herself occasionally? She can’t pump so the dad can feed the baby. And “hard plastic” is separating the mom and baby? Yes, for 30 minutes so she can shop! I stay home with my kids and never used baby carries. But I was home almost all the time with them. I was sitting on the couch while they slept on my chest, walking around the house doing things while they slept in my arms, etc. Just because I wasn’t “wearing” them doesn’t mean I wasn’t close to them. People like you make me glad I am not an AP parent. So judgmental and know-it-all.

          • JC

            And when I say I never used baby carries, I mean wraps and slings. I used the carseat while grocery shopping because it was easy and convenient. I tried a sling with my first and she hated it.

          • It’s silly (at the very least) for the MOTHER to feed pumped breastmilk. I hardly think it’s silly for the father to do so, since as a SAHD I do it every day!

          • Michele

            I exclusively pumped for 10.5 months. Kid has several more months worth in the freezer now that I’ve pump-weaned. But you got me, all those hours hooked up to a pump were just so I could undermine other mothers from nursing in public and be silly.

          • LukesCook

            My son couldn’t bear a sling. It was one of the few things that distressed him. And no, he wasn’t a fussy baby. So I always feel a little sorry for those babies I see squished permanently against their parents’ bodies, especially in 30C + heat.

          • Bombshellrisa

            Now, to me, you just described a how a sensible, organized person would handle taking a baby to a grocery store. It’s hard having a little one in a front carrier (or even one of those backpack type carriers) while attempting to grocery shop once they start grabbing at things (or me) while I try to shop and get done with the task at hand as quickly as possible.

          • Again, it’s very interesting to me that some people insist I’m describing something extreme that rarely happens, while others like you see it as the obvious, normal way to go shopping.

          • I don’t have a creative name

            I think it’s pretty silly to let your heart be “broken” by what is nothing more than a brief glimpse into a family’s life and dynamics. Just because they find a carrier more convenient for the grocery store (how do you know they don’t have a bad back, epilepsy, or something else that would make it not feasible to baby wear?) doesn’t tell you ANYTHING about how that child is treated at home. Likewise, you might smile and nod approvingly at the woman with her baby in a moby wrap, not realizing that she goes home and plays WoW for 6 hours at a time while her baby languishes in its crib. You just don’t know other people truly live, but a tiny glimpse makes you THINK you do, for some weird reason.

            I use the carrier without apology, when my babies are small. It makes life easier. They are not ignored. There is eye contact, smiling, chin tickling, etc. And sometimes I use the moby or ergo, if I think it will be easier for the situation. (interestingly, it’s much easier to have eye contact and interaction when I’m using the carrier) If you want to feel sorry for my kids, be my guest. They won’t notice over all the ruckus and chaos of tickle fights with Mom and tag with Dad. We are happy. You should save your sympathy for the children who desperately need it, who are abused and mistreated – not who have loving parents who just do things a little differently than you.

          • “Breaks my heart” was hyperbole, admittedly. How about “makes me sad to see”? And if you are chin tickling, you are not one of the parents I am describing.

          • LukesCook

            No, you’re the only person special enough to have achieved the average.

          • What comment does this refer to?

          • A major problem that always confronts those who wish to study scientifically the effects of socialization upon human development is the limitations of retrospective studies. In such studies, it can be difficult or impossible to untangle correlation and causation. Thus the gold standard is a prospective study where an experimental variable can be randomized in trials. But this quite often involves ethical dilemmas as concerns human subjects. Even if the ethical issues can be resolved, it is often more expensive and time-consuming to do prospective research.

            Still, I did find a few interesting cases where randomised interventions were used, and which bolstered the case for elements of attachment parenting including one I see as especially key, eschewing seat carriers for slings and the like:

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2245751

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14561562

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16802896

          • Esther

            You’re conflating responsive parenting with AP, but the truth is that you can do follow all the AP tenets and be an unresponsive-to-cues parent, and vice versa. As for the babywearing study, it’s a small study conducted in low SES mothers, and the authors themselves were not sure their results would translate to other groups of mothers.

          • How would one “follow all the AP cues” and be unresponsive?

            And so what if the results did only apply to low SES mothers? My wife is a special ed teacher, and believe me: improving conditions in low-SES households with small children can pay more social dividends than almost anything else we could do.

          • Esther

            The AP tenets, not cues. Breastfeeding (or bottlefeeding, for that matter) while posting responses all day long on a blog or messageboard isn’t what I would call responsive parenting. As would be ignoring a baby’s objection to the slings, or not responding to the baby’s need for regular sleep past a certain age by hauling them around everywhere because skin to skin!

            I might add that AP can also predispose some parents to cross the line into what is termed ‘intrusive parenting’ – eliminating the evolving personal boundaries between parent and child and making the child dependent on the parent for actions s/he should be able to handle him/herself – which can actually promote insecure attachment.

            As for the study, it’s a small one with less than 50 participants. It may or may not apply to all low SES parents at all, and even if correct, it isn’t evidence for the beneficial effect of slings in the general population (and the overwhelming majority of those who AP in the US are not low SES, in any case).

          • I agree, but it should be explored as a possible intervention to be taught in MSW programmes, to promote at WIC appointments, etc.

          • Esther

            Could be. But that’s a far cry from Dr. Sears’ claim that children who are ‘worn’ (along with his other prescriptions for parenthood) are immune to becoming schoolyard bullies.

      • Spiderpigmom

        I was under the impression that pacifiers are emphatically non-AP? Like, the source of all soothing for a baby must be his mother’s boob and anything else is evil? At least, that’s the vibe I got from my brief brushing with AP (until I decided the whole thing was demented).

        • We didn’t use pacifiers for my older two for that reason. But then for the younger two we did because the AAP was recommending them for SIDS prevention. But we had the opposite problem most people seem to: they would spit them out and showed little interest, so with both kids we tried for a little while, got sick of picking them up off the floor and washing them off, and gave up.

    • JC

      I regretted not breastfeeding longer (about 3 months total between 2 kids and most of that was pumping). But now, looking back on it, I wouldn’t change a thing. My husband absolutely loved being able to feed the babies. We took shifts at night. I would do the first shift and he would do the second. (It was tougher when I was still pumping though.) We both got some decent sleep, and I think we were more patient parents because of it. At 6 months old, our kids were allowed to sleep over at my in-law’s house, and they absolutely love their grandparents now. My husband and I get 2 nights a month to ourselves to go out or just stay home and watch movies. It has helped us maintain a very solid relationship.

      I couldn’t agree more that it is very, very beneficial for the mom to have other people be able to feed and soothe the kids. It gives you a break, and it lets the kids see that other people are capable of meeting their needs. My kids slept in a crib or bassinet in our room until about 1 year old but we never did cosleeping. They both have absolutely not trouble sleeping in their own beds in their own rooms now.

      I used to feel guilty that I didn’t do AP parenting since I stay home with my kids. Now I realize that my husband and I did what worked for our family and I wouldn’t change a thing. Despite the evil formula, my kids are healthy and happy. I know this is not everyone’s experience, but I have so many breastfeeding friends whose kids have tubes in their ears after numerous ear infections. One of my kids has never had an ear infection and the other one has only had 2 in 2 and a half years.

      To me, if AP practices truly work for you and your family, great! But it saddens me to think there are women out there doing it because they feel they have to do it in order to be a good mother. The guilt surrounding not breastfeeding, cosleeping and babywearing is just ridiculous. I hope that more parents realize they have the wisdom to choose what works for them and not just listen to all the “experts” out there.

      • fiftyfifty1

        “I used to feel guilty that I didn’t do AP parenting since I stay home with my kids.”
        I personally think you are very smart and self-aware not to fall into the “expanding your work to fill the time” trap that Amy (and Friedan) described.
        (I’ll even be more celebratory when a SAHM can actually use the words “I did it the way I WANTED” and doesn’t have to couch it in the terms of “I did what worked for our family”.)

        • auntbea

          Really? Almost every stay at home parent I know (my husband included) did so because they like it better than their other job.

          • fiftyfifty1

            Oh I didn’t mean the decision to stay home in the first place. I mean the choices regarding feeding, sleep arrangements, hiring babysitters etc.once you are already staying home. I think there is pressure on SAH moms to do everything the hard way or the “best” way because they have the time. I will be happy when SAH parents don’t have to justify their home choices beyond “I felt like it”. This will benefit all women.

          • Jessica

            I will take this one further – I think when parents don’t have to justify their choices beyond “I like it,” women will benefit. I was really stunned a few weeks ago when, in the course of a conversation with my MIL, it became apparent that she thought the ONLY reason I work outside the home is because we cannot afford to lose my income. She had not considered the possibility that I LIKE my job, quite apart from the income it brings in, and that I find it personally rewarding. She had believed (and maybe still does) that women who work outside the home even if they don’t “have to” often aren’t really good mothers, and of course that good mothers would stay home if they could afford it.

            I did my best to disabuse her of that notion, but who knows…

          • S

            THIS STAY-AT-HOME MOM LOUDLY AGREES

            Seriously… it bothers me terribly when people give bullshit rationalizations for doing the same things i do (cloth diaper, breastfeed, all that stuff). I can’t stand martyrs or dishonesty, and also, it feels like they’re putting me down, like, why isn’t it good enough that i can and want to do these things?

            I don’t think the “better for our family” line is always a rationalization, though. Sometimes i do compromise for my husband’s sake.

  • Kristine

    I am OHLA case # 10-6148 and #11-6423. I had often thought about how my midwife was an attachment parent with an 8 month old daughter during my failed birth center attempt. At one point her daughter was there and the apprentice midwife held her in front of my face as I was on all fours trying desperately to ease my pain. I found it unprofessional and distracting. So she was “trying” to be my midwife, care for her baby and care for another mother who showed up and delivered a baby, while I labor next door. How many nights can a midwife be on call? I was at the birth center from 7 pm until 11 am the next day. The midwife did not sleep. Basically you can not be an attachment parent if you are pulling all nighters with other families during deliveries. You actually have to be with your baby to do attachment parenting. I felt she was distracted and I ended up in the ER for an emergency C-section due to her negligence and lack of education. I also found out what happened in that same birth center 15 days prior to my son’s birth, which was a baby born not breathing and now has cerebral palsy. The midwife seemed uninterested in my labor and delivery, probably because she had an injured baby 15 days prior, failing at attachment parenting and sleep deprived. This midwife came back to work shortly after her own home birth, praising attachment parenting, even calling Dr. Sears book her “bible”, yet she was not even practicing what she preached. This whole movement praising vaginal, cervical, uterine mommy powers…is completely full of shit.

    • Lisa from NY

      And she probably doesn’t vaccinate either, which makes her whole family carriers of fatal diseases. Her baby might be contagious as we speak and puts everyone at risk.

      • R T

        That’s a little dramatic. I doubt they are all carrying around “fatal” diseases!

        • Lisa from NY

          True, I admit. However, babies at 8 months are still developing their immune systems and I don’t think it’s fair to expose them to the newborn babies.

        • LukesCook

          Almost every disease is potentially fatal to someone, newborns being a particularly vulnerable group.

        • anon

          Whooping cough is pretty fatal for a newborn.

    • Bombshellrisa

      There are so many doulas right now that offer their services with the disclaimer “I have an infant/baby/toddler/child/children I also bring with me to every birth, as I do not wish to be separated from my children/I am breastfeeding/I do not wish to leave my children in the care of anyone else”. There would be nothing worse for me than being labor with someone trying to comfort me while breastfeeding or wearing a fussy little one.

    • suchende

      “Basically you can not be an attachment parent if you are pulling all nighters with other families during deliveries.”

      There are very few professional jobs you can pull off while APing, birth-related or otherwise.

  • Sophia

    Well said!
    Can we rename it attachment mothering since it doesn’t seem to make the same (ie ANY) demands on fathers?

    • Anonomom

      My husband, I feel, was also shortchanged by AP. he could have been so much more involved and closer to the kids during their infancy. There were many times he desperately and futilely tried to soothe them while I rushed home from much needed breaks.

    • Sue

      Or something more descriptive, like “co-dependency”…

    • AmyM

      One of my husband’s pet peeves is the alienation of fathers. All of the parenting magazines and most of the books are aimed at women, and there is a total double standard. If Dad is spending time with the children, sometimes people around look for Mom. Other times, they’ll comment about what a great father he is, even though he is doing the same thing that Mom would do/the other Moms on the playground are doing. Or,

      sometimes women think its “cute” that Dad is “babysitting.”

      My husband and I are about equally involved with our children. For the last several years, he was home with them over the summers (teacher), and heard everything I mentioned above at some point. Once, a woman moved her daughter away from him and left the playground…he was clearly there with our sons, and she had no reason to fear him.

      And there is also the common assumption that Dad is taking care of children just because he lost his job. I believe the number of SAHDs is growing, and though there is likely some economic reason for it, Dad can still be looked down/un-masculine if he is a SAHD by choice.

      • Exactly! My husband hates when people suggest he’s babysitting! “It’s called parenting.”

        • An Actual Attorney

          I wigged out once at a friend when he said he was babysitting. I was at work. He was a co-counsel on a case. When you meet your legal obligations, it’s not babysitting, it’s not committing a crime of child neglect. Probably not a coincidence that his wife is super AP and home birthing. Really, I should say former friend. We’ve drifted.

          • Sue

            I hear this from colleagues all the time. I always respond “It’s not called babysitting when they are your own children!”
            or alternatively
            “Does your wife call it babysitting when she looks after them?”

          • LukesCook

            I do…
            We often make arrangements with each other about which of us is on “on duty” or “babysitting” while the other goes to a movie or to play chess or even just sleeps in.

      • JC

        My husband has gotten stares and dirty looks (mostly from younger moms and older women) when he takes our 4 year old daughter places by himself. One day he had to take her out of a store screaming and crying because he had told her she could not get a toy. He says he swears a woman was about to call the cops because she thought he was kidnapping his own daughter! It is so sad that society sees fathers alone with kids so infrequently that people assume they are kidnappers or pedophiles.

        • Gene

          My husband has the opposite problem. He takes the kids out and people start commenting on what a GREAT father he is. Women will hit on him. It’s bizarre. Unless he is at the park…then he is a creepy child molester until proven otherwise.

  • Elle

    I agree with this to a point, but there are many women who make motherhood a full-time career who do not feel the need to subscribe to the “attachment parenting” label. Saying things like “while discouraging them from having actual careers” is insulting. Might as well tell me I’m not a “working” mom.

    • me

      This. It’s like telling a mother who WOH that she is letting someone else raise her kids. It is extremely insulting. There are those of us who choose to stay at home because we actually want to (and are fortunate enough to be able to). Not because we *have* to in order to be “perfect” mothers.

      • fiftyfifty1

        “It’s like telling a mother who WOH that she is letting someone else raise her kids. It is extremely insulting”
        Or maybe it isn’t insulting. There have always been other people along with me raising my kids: my husband, the grandparents, the daycare providers, the wonderful foreign-exchange student who lived with us for a time. Now that they are older, their school teachers. And yep, I’m allowing this to happen. Say it all you want, it’s not insulting. It’s true. And it’s what I WANT.

        • That’s an interesting perspective to have! Maybe you’re right.

        • Lisa from NY

          Exactly.

          Caregivers can provide adequate attention to our kids, although it’s never the same as a parent. However, sometimes as humans we need to share the task with caregivers.

          My sil and bil are still caring for their daughter in their 20s who is retarded and needs 24 hour supervision. My bil is constantly complaining how difficult it is. Yet, I do believe that they can put her in a home and the care will be adequate. She will be spoon-fed and diapered as needed. They will not starve her or let her sit in soiled diapers for hours.

          But my sil and bil believe that no one is good enough. So all they can do is complain about their miserable lives while caring for their daughter.

          Do you agree with their decision?

          • fiftyfifty1

            Caregivers aren’t the same as parents. And I think that is a terrific thing a lot of the time. Our caregiver had much more experience than we did in many areas including potty training, discipline techniques, ideas for games, teaching kids large motor skills etc. Our current afterschool nanny reinforces the kids’ second language in a way we never could. And is teaching them how to cook (and does the laundry).

            In regards to your family members, hard for me to say if I agree. I have some patients with serious disabilities requiring spoonfeeding diapering etc and their parents tell me the care around here is NOT always adequate. I would have to look into it more.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa

            Caregivers aren’t the same as parents. And I think that is a terrific thing a lot of the time. Our caregiver had much more experience than we did in many areas including potty training, discipline techniques, ideas for games, teaching kids large motor skills etc.

            I loved having our kids in daycare because it was an opportunity for them to learn things from someone other than us.

            Our older was more than a year old before he started daycare, and we realized that everything he knew was what WE had taught him. He needed new experiences and other people to teach him what THEY knew in order to broaden his life. The last thing we wanted was for him to be limited to our experience.

      • DiomedesV

        I’m not insulted by that. I genuinely like my kid’s caregiver. It really warms my heart to see her kiss her caregiver when I drop her off in the morning. I want her to be able to form attachments with people I trust.

        • me

          With the implication that you are not actually raising your kids? The implication of telling a SAHM that she doesn’t do “actual” work is to devalue what she is doing. Just like telling someone that they don’t raise their own kids, but rather they pay someone else to, is BS.

          It’s great that you like your kid’s caregiver. It is great when extended family/friends help out. But none of them is “raising” your child.

    • Are you nuts

      I don’t think Dr. Amy intended to denigrate stay at home moms – from what I understand, one of the reasons she left her practice was to parent her children.

      I think what she intended is that AP tends to prevent women from choosing to do ANYTHING other than nurse and keep their children less than a centimeter from their bodies for more than two minutes: whether that be to go to work, volunteer or take a shower! If a woman wants to stay home to raise her children, it should be because she wants to, not because a parenting philosophy has convinced her that they will turn into deginerates if they’re not worn in a baby harness for the first 5 years of their lives.

      • JC

        I stay home with my kids and I didn’t feel this post was anti-SAHMs. We are barely fortunate enough to do it. I truly hated my job when I became pregnant, but I was making as much as my husband when I quit so we literally make half as much now as we did before. But, it’s been a blessing because we have cut so much unnecessary stuff out of our lives. I never imagined I wouldn’t stop for Starbucks every other day or buy all the magazines I like or go out to eat and to the movies all the time. But we cut those things and I honestly don’t miss them. As hard as it has been to make staying home work, I would do it all over again in a second. But NOT because I feel like other people couldn’t take care my kids, but because I didn’t want to be in a job I dreaded going to every day while other people watched my kids.

        I have a bachelor’s and a master’s degree but I just haven’t discovered my passion in life. I know I will go back to work when my kids get older. I want to go back to work. I have even considered it with a 2 and 4 year old. But the daycare, after-school care, gas, clothes, etc., truly would be at least one paycheck a month. It’s just not worth it to me at this point to pay out half of my earnings for all that. Of course if I had a career I loved and/or I made really good money, it would have been a much tougher decision.

        • Lisa from NY

          You sound like a wonderful mother.

          • JC

            Thanks! That’s so nice.

      • mimi

        I’m a SAHM, not offended by this piece in the least. Being a SAHM is hard work, but it’s not for everyone.

        The women who HATE being home with kids all day all night, but have bought into the whole AP philosophy are the victims here, as well as women who work (for money or self actualization) that have absorbed this philosophy and feel unnecessary and damaging guilt.

        You are allowing your insecurities to color your reaction to this piece. That is called “butthurt”

        • JC

          I know a former SAHM. Her husband made more than enough for her to stay home (which is not really my situation). But she hated it. She said playing with her kids was like torture and she couldn’t wait for her husband to come home. I admit that I am ready for my husband to come home so someone can bring a fresh perspective on the play time, but it’s not the same as hating it. She was a teacher and her husband said she didn’t make enough to go back to work and if she did, he wouldn’t support her. But she WANTED to go back to work and was unable. I can definitely see where women are damned if they do and damned if the don’t. People constantly ask me if I have a part-time job, when am I going back to work, etc. But I still want at least one more kid. Why should I feel the need to go back to work if I like being with the kids. But many people don’t see that you enjoy it or want to do it. Many times it is the easy or lazy decision. It was by far the hardest thing I have ever done. And since my husband doesn’t make a ton of money, it has made me see the importance of the intangible things in life. Owning a large, beautiful home and expensive things is so much less important to me. And I don’t think I will ever go back to that mindset.

    • Durango

      I did the SAHM thing for years. Not offended by this piece at all. I love it, in fact, as I too hate the pervasive view that we moms can never do enough, but we must nearly kill ourselves trying. And trying to start a career this late sucks. I wish I had started years earlier. I love working and I love earning a paycheck. And a little separation from my kids was good for everyone.

    • LukesCook

      SAHMs might work hard (although I know a fair number who don’t), but that doesn’t make being a mom a job or a career. When I play with and care for my son in the evenings or at weekends, I don’t see that as my second or part time job, and if I were to do the same thing on week days I wouldn’t see it as a job either. Not everyone chooses to do paid work and the value of whatever they choose to do instead doesn’t need to carry the label “job” or “career” to be worthwhile.

      • Elle

        It doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. It just has to do with what women choose to invest their time into. I think some women who work outside the home get upset when SAHM’s refer to themselves as “full-time parents” because it implies other mothers aren’t, which is just wrong. Having an outside career does not make you any less of a parent. But it goes both ways. SAHM’s don’t like being told that they have less of a job because they don’t get wages or days off.

      • Charlotte

        If I were my children’s nanny instead of their mother, and did the exact same things with them, no one would question whether I had a job and many would even go so far as to say I had a career in childcare. Just because SAHMs don’t get paid doesn’t mean it’s not their job. I give as much attention and effort into caring for my kids as I did my career before I had them.

        • Sue

          To me it comes down to this: you get paid for services you provide for OTHER PEOPLE. Things you do for your own family are part of contributing to the family.

          This is not unique to “women’s tasks” or even to parenting. Men can have a job doing other people’s gardening or cutting their lawns, fixing their cars – both they don’t expect to be paid for doing those things at home – it’s part of contributing to the function of the household. People can have a job cleaning other people’s homes, but they don’t see their own home cleaning as a separate “job”. Nothing magical about it – it’s whether the labor contributes to your own family, to to someone who is willing to pay you for it.

    • anonomom

      Calling SAHM a career really ticks me off. You can label yourself a full-time “cook, chauffeur, teacher, professional orientation counsellor, therapist,…” etc etc untill you’re blue in the face. I agree with you that all this represents a lot of work, and that it can bring complete satisfaction to a lot of women.

      But it’s work that doesn’t come with any wages, health insurance, chances of climbing the ladder, or retirement benefits. There is no opportunity to economically better yourself in any way. Even worse: it significantly weakens your economical position in every measurable way. It makes your whole family completely dependent on your husband’s lifelong willingness and ability to generate an income for you. How is that a career?

      • Elle

        For women who work outside the home and entrust their children to someone else, this should mean forming trust with these care-givers. They’re taking care of your children who are extremely valuable and precious to you, so I would think trust is a must! For women who have chosen careers in the homemaking sphere, this means forming trust with your husband in a similar way, though obviously without any kind of employer/employee relationship. My husband and I are a team, and I don’t need wages to take care of my own child. The intangible benefits are worth it to me. Life isn’t all about money.

        • anonomom

          There is some trust involved with professional caregiver whom you pay to look after your child in a controlled environment. But, as a rule, these people are trained for their job and have undergone a very thorough background check. Children being mistreated by such caregivers are extremely rare, which is why these cases receive a lot of media coverage.

          What is NOT rare, however, is divorce. What’s the statistic these days? 50% of all marriages? More? I’m sure most of the people involved in all these divorces didn’t mistrust their spouses right from the start. If you’re a SAHM and your husband either leaves you or becomes disabled, you lose your income, your health insurance, probably your home, you’ll be struggling to provide for your children and you’ll be poor in your old age. That’s a whole lot more trust than what I have in my daughter’s daycare provider. I love my husband to bits, but I am aware that he isn’t infallible or immortal.

          • thpixiechick

            Have to agree with you anonomom. The great thing about being a woman/mother is that you are judged no matter what you do. If you work you are judged for “letting someone else raise your kids” and if you don’t you’re judged for not working. I have to say that I need to work for the reasons you describe. Obviously I don’t want to get divorced but it is always a possibility and I wouldn’t want to be in the situation where I was suddenly on my own with kids and no work or relevant work experience. I wouldn’t want to be in a crisis situation and have to try to get back into the workforce on top of that.

      • DiomedesV

        That’s not why it’s not a profession. It’s not a profession because there are no standards governing who can do it, practically anyone with the means can do so, and almost nobody gets fired.

        Being a daycare worker is a profession for all of the above reasons. In fact, for all the trashing of childcare workers because they’re “not parents”, they actually meet much higher standards in their training and their work than any SAHM.

  • auntbea

    It is not true that the products of the feminine mystique were within reach of all women. The movement, like homebirth, was largely restricted to fairly well-educated, fairly well-off white women who were married to men who could support them. There were at that time, like at all times, women who could not afford to be worried about the quality of their housework because they were too busy taking part in other work.