You probably remember Mayim Bialik as a child star of the popular TV series, Blossom, or you know her as the neurobiologist, Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler, of the sitcom, The Big Bang Theory. However, what you might not have known is that besides being an actress, Mayim Bialik is also a neuroscientist in her real-life, and she is a proud advocate of attachment parenting. In fact, she has also published a book about her unusual parenting style called Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way.
So what is the attachment parenting? It is a parenting method that promotes the attachment of the mother and her baby by different methods, including the continuous bodily closeness, maximum maternal empathy, and numerous other parenting rules that most of the parents would probably find highly unusual. However, we’ll get a closer look at these methods as we discuss 15 unique parenting rules Mayim Bialik follows to raise her kids.
And while Bialik believes she has chosen the best possible approach to raise her kids, the public hasn’t been supportive of her parenting philosophy all the way through. In fact, she had to face some pretty harsh criticism, especially after she published her book. We’ll let you decide what your opinion on the subject is.
15 Birth Bonding
When you choose the attachment-parenting method, there are certain rules you have to start following from the moment your baby is born. The first rule is the book is called birth bonding. Researchers have concluded that for humans, just like for some types of animals, there is a so-called sensitive period that happens right after the birth, where mother and child are biologically programmed to be together to bond. The women are also advised to abstain from pain medication during the childbirth because they can medicate the child as well and interfere with the bonding process during the period right after birth when a mother and child are supposed to be together. Mayim Bialik believes that by bonding with your child this way, you make it easier to continue developing quality mother-infant bond later on.
14 Extended Natural Feeding
Besides providing a child with all the nutrients they need, breastfeeding is also important for strengthening the mother-infant bond because it triggers the oxytocin release in the mother’s body. This is the hormone that has an important role in social behavior; people even call it the hormone of love, as it is responsible for creating our bonds with other human beings. Mayim Bialik has decided to breastfeed her children for as long as possible because she believes breastfeeding is equally beneficial both for the mother’s and child’s health. She also believes feeding the child is an act of love and it helps her to better monitor all of her baby’s needs. And while some people disapproved of her decision to breastfeed her youngest son until he was 4 years old, she is convinced it was the best decision ever.
13 Babywearing In A Sling
Mayim Bialik advises mothers to be in a physical contact with their babies as much as possible. Babywearing is a very important part of the attachment parenting, and it basically means that the mother wears the infant on her body by simply holding it or carrying them in a sling. According to Bialik, this practice keeps the child happy and satisfied while it also helps her monitor the child’s need, as well as involve them in everything she does. According to some research, babywearing helps exercising the child’s sense of balance, it is beneficial for the language acquisition, it calms the child down, etc. Some studies have also shown that infants whose parents wore them on their bodies have cried significantly less during the day compared to the other infants.
12 Sleeping With The Baby
Co-sleeping is another very important part of the attachment parenting. It is considered the ideal sleeping arrangement and it is basically the nighttime version of babywearing. Since attachment parenting is all about keeping your child close to you as much as possible, it is only logical that Mayim Bialik decided to share her bed with her children. She believes it strengthens the bond between them, it prevents separation anxiety, and it makes the child sleep longer and better, as well as makes breastfeeding more convenient, etc. However, the downside of co-sleeping can be that it can make very difficult for a child to get used to sleeping in their own bed, especially in the other room, once the child grows older. However, Mayim Bialik is not concerned about that and she believes family bed is truly beneficial for the child.
11 Preventing And "Reading" When A Child Cries
Crying is an infant’s most important form of expression so parents have to learn how to “read the crying” in order to determine what is it that their child needs. However, one of the attachment-parenting rules that Mayim Bialik follows is to not only read the crying when it happens but to actually try to prevent the child from crying in the first place. What that means is that the parent has to learn how to read the early signals that point to the fact that the child is about to start crying, react immediately, and calm the baby down. Numerous other methods also help to prevent the crying, such as babywearing, co-sleeping, breastfeeding, etc. So while some parents believe the children have to learn how to calm down by themselves, Mayim believes the child should never be left crying.
10 No-Sleep Training
Sleep training is a process to help your baby fall asleep easier and faster, staying asleep for as long as possible, hopefully, through the whole night. However, Mayim Bialik decided not to sleep-train her children, as she believes this process can actually be quite traumatic for them and, instead of falling asleep peacefully, the children become apathetic instead. This kind of apathy is also known as the shutdown syndrome that sometimes occurs when the parent leaves the baby to cry themselves to sleep. Mayim believes that the babies will thrive better without sleep training, as they will be calmer and more satisfied than the babies who undergo this traumatic experience. On the other hand, no scientific research actually confirms that this is actually beneficial for children and most parent still find sleep training the most efficient way to establish healthy sleeping habits with their children.
9 Feeding The Child On Demand
Not only did Mayim Bialik decide to breastfeed her children for as long as possible, but she also embraced the rule of feeding the children on demand. While most parents try to establish some sort of feeding schedule and feed their child at approximately the same time every day, Mayim allowed her kids to set the timing of feeding however they wanted. So how do you do that? Well, it’s simple. You basically just feed your baby whenever they signal they are hungry, usually by sucking on their hands of crying. Since Mayim tried to be in the contact with their children as much as possible, it wasn’t hard for her to notice when it was the time to feed them, and she stuck to this principle both in her home and in a public space.
8 No "Thank You," "Please," And "I’m Sorry"
While most of the children are thought from very early age to say "Thank you," "Please," and "I’m sorry" in situations where those are the appropriate responses, Mayim Bialik guides her children not to use those words at all. She also had a talk about this with her friends and family who have been spending time with her children so that they did not to expect those kinds of reactions or teach them to her children. She believes that natural expressions of appreciation are way more important and that when you constantly repeat the words like "Thank you," "Please," and "I’m sorry" to your kids and teach them to use them, they might completely lose their meaning to them and become just some generated words in their vocabulary.
7 Diaperless Potty-Training
Who likes changing their baby’s diapers? Well, probably nobody, but the disposable diapers have made it way easier than it was in the past when all you had was a cloth that you had to wash over and over again. However, Mayim Bialik doesn’t have these kinds of problems with dirty diapers because she uses diapers at all—neither the disposable, nor the non-disposable kind. Instead, she decided to go for diaperless potty training, which is based on the idea that every baby naturally signals when they have to go. She claims that once you figure your baby’s clues, all you have to do is position them over the potty and make some kind of a cue (for example some sound) that they will eventually respond to by doing their business.
6 The Positive Discipline
Mayim Bialik is all about positive discipline and incorporating a highly-developed, sophisticated type of communication between her and her children. What that means, basically, is that there will be no spanking, yelling, time-outs, or scolding. Instead, she will try to explain everything to her children in a calm manner by using arguments that the children can understand. The basic rule here is to treat your child the same way you want to be treated— as an equal. It is all about the mutual respect instead of causing the children to fear you. Discipline must be empathetic and loving and it shall not weaken the emotional connection between the mother and the child in any way. The ultimate goal here is to help the child eventually develop self-control and self-discipline.
5 Home Birth Is A Must
Mayim Bialik wanted to be as relaxed during her birth as she possibly could so she decided to give birth to her second child right in her living room. She believes that the more relaxed she was, the better it would be for the baby so she didn’t want to give birth in a hospital, but in the most comfortable place in the world— her own home. She had a midwife who helped her get through it, she didn’t want any pain medication because she believes it is better for the baby and for developing the connection with the baby right after the birth. And one more interesting detail is that her older son was right there in the room while she was giving birth. She thought it would be a valuable experience for him to see the miracle of childbirth.
4 Homeschooling The Children
Mayim Bialik doesn’t like the idea of her children being held to some standard of what kids are supposed to be doing so she decided to take things into her own hands and homeschool her kids. She has a Ph.D. in neuroscience, while her husband has masters in Political Science. She believes they are more than competent enough to teach their kids all they need to know. They also enjoy the flexibility because they like to travel and not to be held to some strict schedule so homeschooling is ideal for that. However, according to Mayim, they never thought their kids stuff like colors and shapes until they started showing interest in them. Since their boys are still young, they haven’t used any specific curriculum or workbooks yet.
3 Limited Media Access
Even though Mayim Bialik is a TV star, her children don’t really get to see her on TV because there is a media access rule in place at her house. Her kids aren’t allowed to watch movies or TV because she wants them to avoid the typical peer pressure of the media. She doesn’t want the things kids see on TV to shape their personality, to affect their self-esteem, or to promote certain commercial stuff to them, etc. She chooses the things her sons will watch so that she can be sure that they aren’t exposed to any negative effects of the media that other children might be in the contact with. Of course, they aren’t allowed to use the internet at all, at least for now, at this early age.
2 Books Are Your Child’s Best Friends
Since Mayim Bialik limits her children’s access to technology and TV, she has other methods of keeping them busy and let them have as much fun as possible. She encourages them to play outside in the yard, he buys interesting toys that are supposed to help them develop certain skills but, above all, she reads a lot of books to them. According to her, reading to a child is great because it allows the parent to spend time with them and it helps the kids developing their imagination and their love for books. She recommends books such as Esphyr Slobodkina's, Caps For Sale, Norma Simon's, Why Am I Different?, and Arnold Lobel's, Frog and Toad series, etc. She chooses the books that promote good personal values and teaches them about different people, emotions, situations, and the like.
1 No Playroom In The House
Mayim Bialik doesn’t believe that a child needs a bunch of expensive toys in order to be happy so there is no playroom in their home. According to her, our society is overly obsessed with consumerism, especially when it comes to baby products and toys, which she has completely rejected, partly for environmental reasons and partly for frugality. She buys her children toys that can potentially help them develop some of their skills but she prefers to play with them instead of just letting them do their own thing and get some time for herself. That is actually a big part of attachment parenting since the whole point is to stay as close to your child as possible at all times. For all those reasons, her children have neither the playroom nor their own bedroom since they sleep in the same room as Mayim.