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Introduction to API's Eight Principles

Introduction to API's Eight Principles

Your parenting* journey is both unique to you and your family and a shared and timeless human growth process.

Your parenting journey is formed moment by moment, choice by choice and accumulates into a general relationship pattern that serves as the template your child will use to interact with the world, in turn, over time.


API's Principles encapsulate some of the most Universal Parenting Routines  - like sleep, feeding, and guidance - as well as the essential resources that parents must have available - the ability to prepare and learn themselves, balance needs and respond sensitively. All of this is necessary for child flourishing and the research-based Principles offer you the information and support that helps keep your own internal parenting compass updated and pointing in the right direction.


Each Principle is related to the others and each one is a different entry point for you to learn about different aspects of healthy parenting. 


If you're an expectant family, we encourage you to find out how to get support to practice the built-in baby basics of breastfeeding, breast sleeping or co-sleeping and babywearing. We offer resources and support for every family in every kind of practice while also supporting these baby basics as the portals through which sensitive responsive caregiving is most effortlessly initiated and developed. That's because these built-in baby basics are intrinsic  - built-in - expectations between parents and babies. They remain parenting norms for the majority of human cultures today, even as they are often diminished and devalued practices in western cultures obsessed with spending to treat illness rather than promote health.  

Parents, babies and young children are biologically primed for these practices, regardless of a biological relationship. We have consistently supported parents in using these practices and work to help parents find the support to make them as effortless to do as they are beneficial.


Of course, these are not the only ways to activate and form healthy parent-child relationships and we share supportive information that all parents can use, regardless of specific choices and circumstances. And we welcome all parents to find support for these practices regardless of your child's age. Co-sleeping and babywearing can be important and healthy parenting practices for children beyond infancy.  


Every family will find different ways to learn and use the Principles and the common thread is a shared priority on healthy, supportive relationships and the parenting practices that lead to it. At our core, we're interested in helping parents learn about effective, healthy parenting for family and child flourishing. 


So follow what draws your attention and affirms you while also guides you to grow and learn. Explore, build, discover and share what works for your family. Find a group to join and discuss and share all that you're learning and wonder about. The Principles guide us to the parenting that helps children grow and flourish at every age.

Reduce and buffer parenting stress, share, discuss, learn: connect with a group.


Click each Principle for a Summary and Resources:


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Nourish Your Parenting Knowledge with these resources

The Principles below offer resources centered around Universal Parenting Routines. Parenting that allows you to follow your child's lead with delight, recognize and appropriately comfort their distress, avoid frightening them and focuses on guiding them for growth compose the essence of healthy parenting interactions.


Practice what you learn

Connect with a group to talk through situations, effective skills and break them down into manageable, realistic goals. Focusing on what your child is working on learning and how you can support that, while keeping everyone safe and needs met is the guiding perspective. Keep track of your goals and your success over a couple of weeks and share what you've learned. Practice is progress and failing better each time is practice - and progress.   


What makes the Principles different from other parenting techniques? 

  • Not techniques, or one-size-fits-all behavior quick-fixes. The Principles are not formulaic or narrowly based on changing child behaviors. This makes them less simplistic but also more effective over time because we dont have to keep learning and applying a new set of rules. We aren't aiming to "fix" normally occurring behaviors. Instead, we're using a broad range of development and cross-cultural research to understand what children are attempting to learn and how we can adapt to guide them towards growth while keeping them safe and ensuring needs are met. Consistency in helping children learn is not the same thing as formulaic rigidity, but nor is chaos the only alternative. Our work is to understand what is needed so our boundaries and structures are related to our child's needs and our own while being warm and kind.


  • "Grow with you." The Principles meet you wherever you are and help you parent your best. There's room included for mistakes and support to learn how to make healthy course corrections, recoveries and repairs. All of this is a natural part of learning and growth on the job that we parents do while raising small humans. 


  • Focus on "active ingredients" to promote positive strengths, growth and reflection. The Principles give us aim, help us learn to see and strengthen the healthy links between our child's behaviors and our responses and unlearn our less helpful, knee-jerk reactions. learning to build on positive feedback is the power source that helps us recognize and work on challenges. 


  • Are especially beneficial for parent group sharing and discussion. Parenting was never supposed to be an individual, or couples-only, sport: our biology expects it to be a group enterprise. When we reestablish the group setting around parenting, we regain benefits of shared knowledge, experience, perspective and emotional resources that we might not even realize we're missing. The Principles guide the group to focus on what we know works for children. Join an AP Group or another great group in your area or explore our leader guidelines to become a parent leader in your community. 


Additional references:

These resources will help you understand how age-nomrative child behavior is also influenced by individual biological variations. When we seek to guide a child's behavior toward positive growth and learning, starting fromw a more complete understanding allows us to choose the parenting skills that are most likey to truly support learning and flourishing.


The Eight Principles of Parenting:

  1. Prepare for Pregnancy, Birth, and Parenting

  2. Feed with Love and Respect

  3. Respond with Sensitivity

  4. Use a Nurturing Touch

  5. Ensure Safe Sleep, Physically and Emotionally

  6. Provide Consistent and Loving Care

  7. Practice Positive Discipline

  8. Strive for Balance in Your Personal and Family Life

*references to parents, family, mothers refer to all primary caregiving adults who actively love and care for children in ongoing, health-giving relationships. These individuals include fathers, partners, guardians, non-parent caregivers, teachers, coaches and others. We embrace all family arrangements and structures that nurture children.