There are a couple of books on the subject at my library. I haven't checked them out to review them, but since I've already reviewed a number of things related to attachment parenting, I thought now would be the time to give an overview of the concept along with my usual commentary.
Dr. Sear's coined the phrase based on the theory generated by John Bowlby. The Attachment Parenting Institute (API) came up with 8 principals derived from these ideas.
1. Preparation for Pregnancy, Birth and Parenting
2. Feed with Love and Respect
3. Respond with Sensitivity
4. Use Nurturing Touch
5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally
6. Provide Consistent Loving Care
7. Practice Positive Discipline
8. Strive for Balance in Personal and Family Life
These principals don't encourage parents to use certain parenting techniques but rather use these ideas as a guideline. Most parents associate things like child wearing, breast feeding, infant/child message, co-sleeping, homeschooling, unschooling, nudism, eating organic foods, and natural health as being part of attachment parenting. But this is not necessarily the case.
The first principal is very basic. It believes that parents should inform themselves about eating right and what types of child birth work for them. Some people this means things like water births, silent births, and home births. But having a natural child birth at a hospital is perfectly within the realm of attached parenting.
Feed with love and respect encourages parents to breast feed or bottle feed. It believes that weaning should be a gentle process and that the introduction of solid foods should be slow and deliberate. See blog on breast feeding
Responding with sensitivity encourages parents to soothe their children and to try to work out temper tantrums. This is an entirely differently philosophy from the way our parents grew up which was to let children "cry themselves out."
Using nurturing touch encourages infant message, kangaroo holding, and child wearing. All of these principals are known to help children deal with stress and cue parents into stress faster. See blog on baby wearing
Ensuring safe sleep encourages parents to co-sleep or sleep with the child in the same room. The Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to have the child in the same room but does not encourage children to sleep in the same bed (bed-sharing). Many people think that bed-sharing and co-sleeping are synonymous. Bed sharing is sleeping in the same bed. Co-sleeping is sleeping in the same room or on a separate surface next to the bed. I'm all for co-sleeping (which I plan to do until the baby outgrows the bassinet) and switching to him sleeping in his own room for space reasons.
Providing constant loving care is being able to work with care givers to ensure that your child continues to be in a safe loving environment away from mom and dad.
Practicing positive discipline is important. Techniques like redirection or preventative discipline (meaning put something away so they won't get into trouble) are important. I have another book on the subject of discipline and I will be exploring this topic in more detail. But here is the list of techniques that API suggests using.
Maintain a positive relationship
Use empathy and respect
Research positive discipline
Understand the unmet need
Work out a solution together
Understand the child's developmental abilities
Create a "yes" environment
Discipline through play
Change things up
State facts rather than making demands
Make requests in the affirmative
Allow natural consequences
Use care when offering praise
Use time-in rather than time-out
Use time-in as a parent, too
Talk to a child before intervening
Don't force apologies
Comfort the hurt child first
Be sensitive to strong emotions
Consider carefully before imposing the parent's will
Use logical consequences sparingly and with compassion
Use incentives creatively with older children
And here is some of my thoughts on discipline although I am open to trying anything that doesn't resort to me loosing my temper. See discipline
Striving for balance is a fav of mine. Parents all need a little time away to feel refreshed and recouped. We all need to take care of ourselves in order to be great parents. I heard someone once say that we need to give to ourselves first before we can give to others. Otherwise we just keep draining ourselves without refilling. How can you teach your child that exercise and play is important if you don't model that behavior? How can you teach your child to schedule wisely if you don't say "no" sometimes yourself?
Anyway I like the concepts of AP because it's not restrictive. The idea is to try and be a loving and nurturing parent and use different techniques to keep your child from hitting melt down mode. But there are other parenting techniques out there. The great thing about knowledge is you try a few things and see what works for you. If it doesn't, then try something else. It's better to have more in your arsenal.
Oh and for more info on AP look at the Natural Child Project.