The fourth principle of attachment parenting is Use Nurturing Touch.
Taken directly from the API website, the basic premise is this:
Needs and the Benefits of Nurturing Touch
• For the child, nurturing touch stimulates growth-promoting hormones, improves intellectual and motor development, and helps regulate temperature, heart rate, and sleep/wake patterns.
• Babies who receive nurturing touch gain weight faster, nurse better, cry less, are calmer, and have better intellectual and motor development
• Cultures high in physical affection, touch, holding or carrying, rate low in adult physical violence
For most people, this is probably a gimme. For us, this principle manifests itself in a number of ways.
Breastfeeding is, of course, a big player, since she has been having that time with me since birth. Unfortunately she needed to take a bottle of expressed milk when I was at work in the beginning, but when I was off, she rarely had one. Additionally, she nursed through the night until 15 months or so and she’d be able to snuggle up to me whenever she needed and we had a lot of skin-to-skin, snuggling time that way. Early on, when she was still adjusting to us and had some fussy nights, my husband would take his shirt off to snuggle her against him instead of having that barrier of clothing between them.
Baby wearing is also another excellent practice for keeping our babies close. We really only have used a stroller when one of us, (yeah, not me), takes her jogging. At nearly two, she still rides on our back in her structured carrier or even occasionally on my hip in the ring sling. When she younger, I used the ring sling on nearly a daily basis and she would sit on my hip as I worked around the house. I now have a stretchy wrap which I will use for the new baby in his or her early days.
Massages are a really common way of using nurturing touch, although it’s not something that we’ve practiced often. We did when she was very little, but it didn’t take long for it to seem more like a comedy sketch in our house. My daughter was always a little too high powered to want to relax that way, but I continue to rub her back or head when she’s dozing off to sleep.
Overall, touch your kid. Hold your kid. Play with your kid. I think most parents, within and outside of the API spectrum, adhere to this principle in many ways.