When Attached Babies and Kids Grow Up

Megan at SortaCrunchy wrote about the payoff of attachment parenting recently on her blog. She described traits she is noticing in her daughter as a result of her breastfed, babyworn, gently disciplined upbringing.

I left a comment over there sharing something that happened with my oldest son recently, and thought I would post it here for some more discussion.

When attached babies and kids grow up...

When attached babies and kids grow up…

The other week me and the kids were eating dinner at a restaurant with some friends – a married couple and their two kids were there. When I was finished with my meal and while the mom ate, I held her toddler. He is 11 months old and going through a hitting stage (very typical for boys at his age!) and while he adores me, he hit me a couple of times.

I took it in stride  – my oldest went through a phase like this at this age, and I didn’t freak about it. It was just a little slap to tell me something. I’m not sure if he was trying to get me to focus on him or wanted a change of position…. but before I could figure it out, his Grandmother slapped him on the hand.

My son was so upset by this. In fact he started talking about how wrong it was for her to hit him when he was just a baby and didn’t know what he was doing. I could hear him saying this and the Grandmother started to tell him that she disagreed – that the todder did know exactly what he was doing and that she had to communicate that him hitting me was wrong.

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I heard my son use the word “stupid”… he was becoming visibly upset by this whole scene. I went over to him and tried to smoothe things over with him. I didn’t want him to say something disrespectful to the grandmother (who happened to have raised 7 kids herself, plus as an older person I expect him to show her respect), but I wanted to acknowledge his feelings about the matter.

The mom asked her mother to stop – she is not a spanker and didn’t like what her mother did. Then she took my son aside to talk with him about it. She (the mom) was not happy about the slapping and said so openly to her Mom.

I was proud of my son at this moment. I am not here to sit in judgment of the grandmother, but I don’t believe in hitting a baby’s hands to teach him not to hit. And apparently, neither does my son. 🙂

This child, who tested me as if my fire with his high need ways, was attached to me – literally – until he was 18 months old. He was fussy and the only time he seemed happy was when he was nursing. So, we nursed. And nursed. And nursed. All night long, most of the day. I discovered babywearing more out of desparation – I did have to go to the bathroom sometimes! or wash dishes!  – than out of any philosophy.

This is the chid who did not sleep unless he was on my body. He STILL has issue with sleeping and if he had his way, would still be sleeping near me.

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He is also the young man who has no interest in girls, but who has declared that if he ever gets married, his wife WILL breastfeed their baby. 😉

I have pointed out that he wouldn’t be able to force his wife to do anything, and his response? Well I’ll ask her before we get married!”

This child also cannot bear to hear a child cry. He is his baby sister’s protector and comforter. He can often be seen picking her up and rocking her in the rocking chair when she is having a fussy evening and mom is trying to get dinner on the table. I have several pictures of him wearing her in a sling. I also have shot pictures of him breastfeeding his toys as a toddler – including one particularly cute one with him nursing a dinosaur. LOL!

He is also very in tune with my emotions. If I am having a bad day, he will often surprise me with a cup of hot tea. Or he will make breakfast or offer to brush my hair (I’m a sucker for that!).

I don’t know yet how attachment parenting has made my other kids different, but in my oldest it’s very obvious.

What do you think? What happens when attached kids get older?


About Carrie

Happy wife, homeschooling mom of many, autodidact, best-selling Amazon author, blogger, head chef and barefoot walker. Residing just outside Atlanta, usually found reading a book while sipping a hot beverage.


  1. What a thoughtful, caring son you have raised. How old is he? It sounds like he is going to make a wonderful father someday.
    Stumbled this. 🙂

  2. Thanks Amy – Caleb is 10. 🙂

  3. Elizabeth Ashe says:

    Oh, Carrie my mom is a a big believer in spanking and if I go somewhere with her in public. And one of the kids do something she does not approve she is quick to hit.

    That is why I never leave my kids w/ her for an extended period of time even if she is my mother. She does not believe in gentle discipline and brings up the proverbs scripture w/me about spare the rod spoil the child.
    ‘I hope I got that right” lol.

    Anyhow she fails to realize that discipline is all about teaching and not just hitting under every circumstance.

    But thank goodness, I did not get that many spankings when I was small from a mother that did spank alot. I think she might just have saw how sensitive I was.

    However, it can be heard to hold your tongue, when someone is older and has their own kids. At least the daughter did speak up some and voiced her opinion.

  4. What a sweet son you have – I so hope my little ones have a heart like that.

    We have to walk that fine line of dealing with different generations’ methods of childrearing and our own as well. So frustrating sometimes.

    My 3-yr-old is very much into nursing her stuffed animals right now, and while my husband is a little creeped out about it (in a funny way), I think it’s so sweet and adorable.

  5. Elizabeth Ashe says:

    That’s so funny, because my little boy (3) now will not go to bed unless he feels someone breasts lol….. thank goodness his dad lets him harass his breast.

  6. Mine is only 2 so I hesitate to say anything, lest it come back to haunt me…but I’ve already noticed a few things.

    Everyone compliments her on how good she is in public, at restaurants, etc. And I laugh when they say I’m lucky to have such a mellow child. Mellow? The kid tests me constantly–she’s full of fire. But through consistency and gentle discipline and routines, she’s learned to trust me and that goes a long way.

  7. I learned about AP by accident and there are a lot of things that I love about it. My daughter, who will be 4 this Nov, is very aware of other peoples feeling. She is usually the first one at her preschool to comfort a kid when they get hurt. I love this about her, she is a community child and a great big sister to kids at school. I hope that this continues as she gets older.

  8. My kids are all well behaved, gentle and make friends easily. I read about an ap toddler who was a “problem” because he’s always trying to hug other kids. My toddler is exactly the same. i used to get embarrassed about this cause the other kids sometimes got scared. Has anybody else observed this with their ap kids?

  9. absolutely! My kids also LOVE to approach nursing moms and make all over the babies. LOL I think it freaks them out sometimes but mine are such lactivists

    I am forever asking mine to stop touching other people’s babies without asking because some moms get freaked out when another child touches their baby. I never did.

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