The koala parenting style focuses on nurturing an emotional and physical bond between mother and baby. Koala parents view the physical, mental, and emotional growth of children as all equally important parts of development.

According to New York Family, “The name koala parenting comes from the idea that parents who practice attachment parenting frequently hold their child, similar to how mother koalas hold onto their children".

While the term koala parenting may be new, the guiding principles are in line with the attachment style of parenting. The attachment parenting style is a research-based method of promoting a secure bond from birth.

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What Is Attachment Theory & How Does It Apply To Parenting

What Is Attachment?

Father and child laughing and cuddling

According to Verywell Mind, a secure attachment is formed based on the responsiveness from the caregiver. When a child can rely on the caregiver to respond to their needs, this creates a sense of security within their world.

John Bowlby, the founder of attachment theory, described attachment as a "lasting psychological connectedness between human beings."

His research was pivotal in understanding that an infant's needs go beyond just physical demands. The response from parents or caregivers has lasting effects on a child's development.

7 B's Of Koala Parenting (AKA Attachment Parenting)

Mom holding son close in a carrier

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Pediatrician Dr. Bill Sears expanded on the attachment theory by giving new parents 7 tools to promote the bond between mother and baby. Per Ask Dr. Sears site, these aren't meant to be taken as rules, but rather tips to help you find your own parenting style while responding to your child's needs.

  • Birth bonding. Physical closeness (skin-to-skin, snuggles, affection) is encouraged from birth and throughout childhood.
  • Breastfeeding. The WHO recommends infants be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life. At 6 months, they should be offered safe foods "while continuing to breastfeed for up to 2 years and beyond." Koala parents will likely let the child guide the weaning process.
  • Baby wearing. Baby carriers and slings are a popular baby registry item for new parents, with many carrier styles lasting well into toddler or preschool years.
  • Bedding close to baby. Dr. Sears promotes bedsharing as a way to connect with infants, it helps all family members get more rest and makes breastfeeding through the night easier. It should be noted, the AAP recommends that "parents sleep in the same room – but not in the same bed as a baby, preferably for at least the first six months." As always, talk to your child's pediatrician about a safe sleep plan for your child. Koala parents may continue co-sleeping into preschool years, or until the child shows readiness for independent sleep space.
  • Belief in the language value of your baby's cry. Koala parents believe in responding to their child's cries to build trust day or night. They are firmly against "cry-it-out" and other popular sleep training methods. Outbursts or tantrums of toddler and preschool-age children are also seen as a form of communication. Koala parents recognize the emotions that may be causing the negative behavior and respond with empathy.
  • Beware of baby trainers. Dr. Sears encourages parents to lean into their own understanding of their child's needs, rather than taking the advice of rigid parenting styles. Koala parents are flexible and follow their child's cues for eating and sleeping needs, rather than a set schedule.
  • Balance. Don't get so caught up in caring for your child that you forget the importance of taking a break. When mom's needs are met, she will find herself in a better position to give to others.

Benefits Of Koala Parenting

Father and daughter smiling and hugging

Research shows responding to a child's emotional needs and forming a secure bond from birth has many lasting benefits. According to Healthline, children with parents who practice attachment-style methods can better regulate emotions. When parents are highly responsive, children have less exposure to stress which can positively affect brain development. They are also over two times more likely to develop language skills than children who did not experience this style. As their child enters preschool years, koala parents will use positive reinforcement and a gentle approach to discipline.

Things To Consider

Mom holding emotional son
Credit: Unsplash

Koala parenting may have some drawbacks for families. When there are needs of multiple children to consider, working parents, and busy schedules to balance, some of the Baby B's tools may seem impractical. Attachment parenting can be demanding of parents, so it's important for families to put systems in place to prioritize their own physical, emotional, and mental health.

Remember there is no one perfect parenting style, but there are many ways to raise happy, healthy children. Focus on finding what works for your child’s individual needs and your family’s lifestyle. If that includes being in tune and highly responsive to your child's emotional needs you just might be considered a koala parent.

Sources: New York Family, Ask Dr. Sears, Healthline, WHO,

A Verywell Mind, AAP