The 7 Bs of Attachment Parenting

Mother sleeping with her baby

Thank you to Brian Leaf for sharing this excerpt of his book, Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi.

Parenting precepts scare me. I’m Jewish and from New Jersey, so I’m prone to worry. My neurotic mind can turn any set of precepts into another explanation of why I have failed and my children will wind up like Pee Wee Herman or Justin Bieber. Just writing about this is too much. I may need to break for some yogic pranayama.

But I have found that Dr. William Sears’ seven precepts (known as the seven Bs) of Attachment Parenting are different. Sears’s list essentially says: Trust your baby, trust your parenting instincts and get support from friends and family. This, perhaps, I can stomach.

Sears’s seven Bs of Attachment Parenting, with some commentary, are as follows:

1. Birth bonding. Take an active role in the birth you want. Educate yourself. Speak openly with your obstetrician, midwife, and/or birth attendants. Be present for the birth.

2. Read and respond to your baby’s cries. Newborns don’t misbehave. They communicate. We just need to watch and listen. And try things. Even if you misunderstand a cue — offering a nurse when all little Jimmy wanted was a cuddle — he’ll tell you and you will refine your ability to understand. This is similar to honing your intuition. That is, the best way to cultivate and hone intuition is by listening for and then following intuitions as they arise. As Malcolm Gladwell teaches in his bestseller Blink, each time you follow an intuition, your intuition strengthens. This, I’d say, is a great example of what’s meant by follow your parenting instincts. I love seeing this as a skill that, with practice, I can hone.

3. Breastfeeding. The benefits of breastfeeding are endless. Mom gets happy hormones. Baby gets antibodies. No one has to get up in the middle of the night and walk across the cold linoleum to mix a bottle.

4. Babywearing (carrying baby in a sling or carrier). Trust your instinct to hold your baby. Sears says carried babies cry less and grow more. And they feel safe and get to snuggle up to you. When I see a baby in a very crowded mall being pushed in a stroller, the baby always looks the way I feel on a roller coaster. “Where am I going? Where’s Mom? HELP! Ahhhhh!!!” That dialogue, by the way, is a direct quote from me at age thirty on Disney World’s Space Mountain. In my town, parents favor baby carriers and wraps and are embarrassed by their strollers. There’s always a qualifier: “I’d have all three boys in a carrier on my back, but I threw out my SI joint in chaturanga last week.”

5. Bedding close to baby (cosleeping). Sears wonders when and why this practice became so controversial. He has found that because it’s so discouraged in the mainstream, lots of families who actually do cosleep don’t admit to it. Plus, he reminds us that most babies the world over sleep with their parents. And that we evolved to do so, which makes pretty good sense. Historically, babies left alone would be threatened by predators. I can’t imagine ancient peoples put their baby to bed in a small cave nearby.

6. Balance and boundaries. Take care of yourself. Put on your own oxygen mask first, as they say. A healthy baby needs a healthy mom and dad. Take a night off. Hire a sitter or call Grandma. Exercise. Eat well. Dust off the Barry White LP and have some sex, for Pete’s sake. You’ll be a better parent when (at least a few of) your own needs are met.

7. Beware of baby trainers. Don’t be convinced to follow any dogmas. Ignore any advice that counters your parental instincts to nurture your baby. Turn off Supernanny. Parent from your intuition and your heart.
I love that the seven Bs of Attachment Parenting are not dogma but a call to empowerment. They are a call to wake up to my instinctive parenting wisdom: being alert to each moment, assessing what is needed with clear eyes and an open heart. Intuition. Flexibility. Mindfulness . . . If nothing else an excuse to keep doing yoga and meditation, now that there’s really no time for it.

Originally published on Mothering in May 2014

Brian Leaf is the author of the parenting memoir, Misadventures of a Parenting Yogi: Cloth Diapers, Cosleeping, and My (Sometimes Successful) Quest for Conscious Parenting. You can find him online at

18 thoughts on “The 7 Bs of Attachment Parenting”

  1. I wish people would stop talking about the benefits of breastfeeding so glibly. I see new moms being surprised at how much work it takes and that it’s a full time job in the beginning. And then they feel guilty if they run into latching problems or can’t supply enough milk or don’t want to pump every 2 hours when they have a job. Yes, breast milk is amazing. But it’s not free, unless a woman’s time is free.

    1. I have a full time corporate job and I am still breastfeeding and pumping at work. The benefits are stressed so much because of how mainstream “formula” has become. I feel obligated to push others to Breastfeed. It’s how nature intended things to happen.

      1. Surely there is a balance between these two opinions? I breastfeed my baby of a month old and it is going very smoothly.

        A complete opposite to my first kiddo who was a preemie, had two tongue ties, and who never successfully transferred milk. No one out seeing me feed my kiddo a bottle knew this about him. Or that I pumped exclusively for 6 months until my marriage couldn’t take it any more, and still felt like a failure.

        In my opinion, if a woman has not had a baby with latch issues or difficulties nursing, I’m very happy for you, and jealous, and intimidated by you. I also don’t feel you have very much room to relate to or opine about those of us with difficulties, or have an idea of the emotional devastation of being surrounded by breastfeeding success and propaganda.

        And I love the work of Dr. Sears and his wife and sons, and check their blog (and parenting books regularly).

    2. Thanks so much for your post Nadine! It completely resonates with me. I’m a new Mom-just finished breastfeeding my three week old son. Nothing about this has been easy, but it comforts me to know that some people appreciate and understand that.

      1. Thank you Nadine!

        Kris Just keep doing your best. Your best, not a one else’ best.

        I had perfect nuring relationships with both babies but It was hard as heck! I didn’t love it but I still did it.i nursed both for a little over a year and STILL heard comments from the extended nursers. I followed Attachment Parenting because it felt natural but we were not purists. I never thought a baby looked scared in a stroller, gimmie a break man ! I think Supernanny is spot on most of tbe time…she is dealing with out of control families, not balanced families. I don ‘t take patenting advice from people whom I have not observed how their kids bahave. You can blah blah blah all day long BUT HOW DO YOUR KIDS ACT? I have spent a whole lot of time with other attachers and so much of the time the parents step in too much and facilitate success too often because they don ‘t want their child to feel any discomfort. Crying as a newborn is one thing but at 8 months old you can learn a bit from figuring yourself out. Crying does not always mean you need to rescue them.

        It tripps me out how hardcore people can be.

      2. With my first child (many, many years ago), I purposely read nothing about what I was supposed to do. I wanted to rely on my own instincts and I did. Breastfeeding was a natural thanks to Le Leche League and the only thing I read was one quote that said, “Just love him up!” and I thought, “I can do that.” And I did. Very smooth sailing. I did have the time to do everything because I chose to stay at home and only focus on baby. Was amazing and I still miss those days.

    3. Breast milk is, indeed, one of the last “free” things in life. Given the health benefits, and the emotional benefits of the attachment of baby to mother, and vice versa, we should be PAID to nurse our babies! Just a thought, and a dream of mine…….A breastfeeding mother does not need to pump every two hours to maintain her milk supply and provide enough milk for her baby: pumping every four hours is adequate. I was a home care nurse when I was nursing my baby, and I had located many public restrooms with handy electric plugs where I could pump my breasts, sometimes right in front of the sinks! I got a lot of questions from curious strangers, none of which were rude or nasty. This gave me an opportunity to educate quite a few women on the benefits of mother’s milk, which is our species-specific food, which I believe is taken for granted and seen as some sort of luxury that most women are not smart enough or gifted enough to learn how to do. To me, this is a tragedy of our modern, “I’m in a hurry” world………

  2. Well done, Brian. This is exactly the advice I got from La Leche League in 1976. It is the best parenting advice there is, and I am/was a much better parent to my infants than I would have been, so clueless prior to joining LLL. Thank you. Will share.

  3. Why doesnt anyone talk about the ‘b’s’ for older children? Babies becomes chdlren, and then older children. None of what you said applies to them.

    1. Maya and Lillyola,
      As a mom of three, I find those B’s do apply to older children quite a bit, actually. If you meet their needs, they become those confident, independent young people that everyone yacks about. Some kids are “high need” (Dr. Sears has a great book about those kids too as his own daughter Hayden was a high need kid) and respond better to some extra coddling as it nurtures their need for security. Even co-sleeping can apply to older children, although, unfortunately you might have to take a lot of crap from family and friends if you do allow your older children to sleep with or near you. Some kids just need things longer. Good luck! Keep using your parenting instincts and think about those 7 b’s – you’ll be fine and so will your kids. :)

  4. I’ll just comment that I found this article and the advice in it very helpful.
    I think as a parent you have to be flexible and develop your capacity to be in tune or well attuned to your baby as he or she grows and develops. Your intuition is a great tool in enhancing your ability to read your child’s cues and communicate effectively with them.

  5. Nice read. Attachment parenting has its challenges, mostly in the form of nonsupporters, but it’s oh so worth it. I find my children to be way more friendlier and well adjusted than those of parents who put less thought and/or affection into parenting. Many don’t want to sacrifice convenience, income or status to parent closely and that is their choice. I judge not but I do choose these 7 Bs for myself and my children. Great article. :)

  6. Such a good point Maya! I’ve often wondered that too- how do the 7 B’s translate into parenting big kids??
    Also, I am
    Always a bit saddened when I read a defensive opinion about how “hard” breast feeding is and that people speak “glibly” of it. My thought is “here’s another one who’s struggling with the guilt of giving up”. No one said it was easy, but everyone does agree that it’s best.

    1. Absolutely some of us feel defensive and guilty. It is hard not to. Per my post above to that same comment you mention, sometimes it does feel glib, because sometimes the ‘hard’ includes medical problems, marital damage, time away from other children, etc. For myself, I do believe in attachment parenting, and breastfeeding benefits, and am grateful I am able to nurse my second son. But it is hard not to have a visceral and angry reaction to anyone who does not know the journey my family took to feed my first son. And any family could be having equal difficulties, so to say ‘no one ever said it was easy’ feels a lot like a blanket ‘you just didn’t try hard enough’.

      1. Because that is exactly what she meant to say. Text book superiority complex.

        Na’ama you speak for us. You have a kind heart.

  7. “Be present for the birth” umm is there any other way to give birth? It’s not like you can pass pushing a baby out of your body onto someone else lol
    also, I would never cosleep my baby…just a personal choice.

    1. If you have to have a c-section and need anesthesia instead of an epidural, then you would not be able to “be present” for your birth. I had a partial placenta previa that (thankfully) moved up. However, if it didn’t, I would have had to deliver via c-section. And due to another health issue, I cannot have an epidural. Therefore, being present was going to be a challenge. I discussed these challenges with my ob and my birth coach (hubby) and we developed a plan where my husband would assist me in the bonding process. He would advocate for our wishes of delayed cord clamping, no bathing of baby and getting baby as much skin-to-skin contact with me and him as possible. Thankfully, we will be able to try for our natural child birth plan now, but we have a plan for unexpected issues just in case. I hope this answers your question. Be well.

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