For the past few years, the only time Mayim Bialik's name popped into the news was because people were criticizing some of her parenting choices. I never paid much attention, but when she was added to the cast on The Big Bang Theory and more and more people started noticing her and choosing to judge her choices, I started listening a bit closer, especially now being a mom myself.
Beyond the Sling is Bialik's explanation of what attachment parenting is and why she and her husband choose to practice it. The book is informative, covering everything from the science of their choices to their own deductive reasoning (as one would assume would be included from a neuroscientist). It's written in a down-to-earth, yet matter-of-fact tone. Though she knows her choices are not necessarily conventional and may even be controversial (no vaccines, no antibiotics, no medications), she doesn't apologize at all and I totally appreciated that.
Though our family doesn't/won't practice a lot of what is talked about, I respect the decisions this family has made and they've been explained in a manner that convinces me of their choices. I understand why they're doing certain things, even if they aren't right for our my own family.
Family beds: It was discussed long before a child actually came into our home that our bed would not have a child sleeping in it. My husband was adamant, I was fine with his reasons. The times that Elliott needed comfort or his mama close by, we moved to a chair in the living room and I'm sure that's what we'll continue to do. Works for us.
Elimination communication: It's not happening. My kid is wearing diapers, end of story.
Medication: Their children have never had a single antibiotic or any form of medication, even over-the-counter. They don't vaccinate and they don't go to the doctor unless absolutely necessary. They all had H1N1 and didn't go to the doctor! I'm a worrier and we'll probably be at the doctor a lot over the next few years, but I'm also rational. I don't want unnecessary medication and I won't run to the doctor for every cold or bruise (we already successfully battled E's first cold ourselves). We have chosen to vaccinate and again, that works for us.
Breastfeeding: I wanted this to work SO BADLY, but it just didn't. After having 2 babies and struggling to pump any amount of milk at all for months with my first, I was finally diagnosed with a duct disorder after having Elliott and working with a lactation consultant 3 hours a day for 3 weeks. I can make milk, but it doesn't come out. Frustrating, but not my fault.
My biggest disagreement with Bialik...and one that actually produced multiple eye rolls...had to do with play. She doesn't believe we should "teach" our children anything before age 5. Meaning, no ABC song, no counting, no colors. Most books they read do not have pictures. She wants them to enjoy being kids, figuring things out on their own. I think it's taking away a whole lot of fun and imagination time from them, especially with the books! Elliott is 5 months old and LOVES when I sing the ABC's to him! Oh and she doesn't teach sharing either...that's just one other issue.
I did love her explanation of why they chose to wear their babies and we do that a lot around here too. Elliott loves his sling and his Moby wrap and isn't so fond of "structured" carriers, like our Chicco one. He wants to be curled up and close and that's great! The wraps are more comfortable anyways.
I'm also into the "less is more" philosophy when it comes to toys and things. He doesn't need a lot to play with, he needs us, books, and a couple of toys. The less plastic, the better, in my opinion. We're already planning his first birthday party to include a "donation" to Toys for Tots instead of birthday gifts. With it being so close to the holidays, what a great way to still let people bring a gift, but not have it stay in my house :)
We also won't be letting Elliott watch television until he's much older, though we won't be total freaks about it and whip his head away if he so much as glances at it. Just our personal choices.
Overall, I enjoyed the tone of the book and that no apologies were given for their beliefs. I may disagree with some things and I may not practice most of them, but I did enjoy reading about another family's way of parenting their children. It not only inspires ideas, but helps to solidify what I'm doing right!
Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way
Mayim Bialik, PhD