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Attachment parenting is a holistic way of life for actress Mayim Bialik

Mayim Bialik, well known for her acting roles in “Beaches,” “Blossom” and “The Big Bang Theory,” has released a new book, “Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way.”
by Heather Warlick Published: April 9, 2012

“Unfortunately, most of the available books and information give sound advice but offer little to no theory or scientific evidence to back up their recommendations.”

Bialik said that some of her research for the book was based on her doctoral thesis, for which she studied the hormones of human attachment, including oxytocin, vasopressin and prolactin.

“Oxytocin, specifically, is one of the main things that helps get the baby in and get the baby out,” Bialik said, only half jokingly.

These hormones are also largely responsible for the bonding process that happens between a mother and her infant.

The progressive parents live in a very small Los Angeles home — their one-bedroom has two mattresses on the floor on which the family co-sleeps.

The children don't have a playroom filled with the latest toys — Bialik and Roosevelt have made a conscious decision to keep their material lives simple and minimal.

“Our society's obsession with consumerism, especially in the realm of baby things, baby soaps and baby products. ... That's something that my husband and I, partly for frugality and partly for environmental reasons, have really rejected.”

The kids have plenty to keep them entertained and educated, and everything and everybody in the household gets clean, Bialik says.

“We figure everything out without spending a lot of money on that kind of stuff.”

Physical closeness

Keeping her children as physically close as possible is key to Bialik's mothering. For her babies' first several months of life, she carried them, nestled to her body, in a sling.

“For me, baby-wearing made me able to go out, kept my hands free and it kept my baby close,” she said.

Aside from also making nursing convenient and fostering a close bond with her baby, Bialik cites research that shows that cultures that keep their babies close and nurse them frequently often do not report colic.

She used a wrap-style sling that cost about $35 for both her sons. She recommends a sling that holds baby in his natural shape — not upright as many popular carriers are positioned.

Potty training

In “Beyond the Sling,” Bialik also writes about elimination communication as a form of early potty training that encourages parents to recognize their child's natural signals instead of waiting until the child is older, then introducing the toilet.

“You're basically training your child to use their pants as a bathroom and then two years later we have to turn around and do all sorts of complicated manipulations to get them to unlearn that,” she said.

She's the spokeswoman for Holistic Moms Network, a nonprofit organization of parents who share similar parenting ideals. She's planning a second book on parenting and stays busy as a full-time cast member of “The Big Bang Theory.”

But for Bialik and Roosevelt, their children are No.1. Attachment parenting may not be for all families, but for Bialik's, it's a natural.

“Most of our life is really centered around trying to be the parents we want to be.”

Mind the mind

OU's McGuinn cites an important line of work by Elizabeth Meins and colleagues in England that explores “mind-minded” parents who respect and treat their children as individuals with minds, feelings, thoughts, and beliefs of their own.

Much of Meins' research includes a focus on “how early caregiver ‘mind-mindedness' (caregivers' attunement to their infants' thoughts and feelings) predicts children's subsequent social-cognitive and social-emotional development, particularly with respect to children's attachment security and theory of mind.”

“This type of parenting has been linked to children developing more empathy and perspective-taking capacity,” McGuinn said.

“A take-home message is that kids are pretty resilient and there is not likely one perfect way to parent your child,” she said. “Allowing yourself to enjoy the experience and forgive and learn from any mistakes you make along the way is key.”

by Heather Warlick
Life & Style Editor
Since graduating from University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, Staff Writer Heather Warlick has written stories for The Oklahoman's Life section. Her beats have included science, health, home and garden, family,...
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