Fostering A Healthy Infant Attachment Bond

fostering-a-healthy-bond-with-your-infantAs I count down the days for my baby girl to arrive, I am preparing in many ways. I have a co-sleeper crib next to my bed, a rocker in my room, new clothes washed in baby detergent and folded neatly with her new baby blankets. My hospital bags are packed and my family is on standby for the final call. And me, well, I’m preparing my heart and my mind for all that goes into having a new baby…the amazing and the challenging.

With all this preparation, which some may call nesting, I’m reminded of all that I know about the early months of a new baby’s life. There are medical issues to be on alert for, feeding and sleep schedules, developmental milestones to record, and the list goes on. But what about all that information is most important for my new baby?

What does she need most from me more than anything else during her first several months?

Lucky for me, it’s so very simple: love, love, love! Baby will need plenty of nurturing to build a secure attachment (bond) to me, her dad, and eventually in her future relationships in life. Early attachment is so important that I am constantly reading new research to back up the importance of building these healthy attachments as infants and the struggles of children and adults who did not form these attachments as infants.

According to Helpguide.org:

secure bond provides your baby with an optimal foundation for life: eagerness to learn, healthy self-awareness, trust, and consideration for others. An insecure attachment bond, one that fails to meet your infant’s need for safety and understanding, can lead to confusion about his or her own identity and difficulties in learning and relating to others in later life.

When babies develop a secure attachment bond, they are better able to:

  • Develop fulfilling intimate relationships
  • Maintain emotional balance
  • Feel confident and good about themselves
  • Enjoy being with others
  • Rebound from disappointment and loss
  • Share their feelings and seek support

I’ve added several links at the end of this post where you can read more about infant attachment theories and research.

So how do you ensure you are giving your baby what they need to develop a healthy attachment bond?

  1. Get to know your baby: Pay attention to their facial expressions, likes and dislikes, how they respond to you and other stimuli, and what they are trying to communicate to you. Many moms learn pretty quickly the different cries of their baby and what they mean.
  2. Respond to your baby:  This is a key component to building healthy attachments. We want our baby to develop a sense of security that their needs will be met and you will be there when they need you.
  3. Maintain consistency with your baby: Your baby will learn to trust their world and believe they can count on others through your consistency. This means being reliable when they need you to meet their basic needs, as well as needs for emotional connection.
  4. Play with your baby: Talk to your baby. Listen to your baby. Laugh with your baby! Through your positive interaction, they are learning more about you as well as developing a positive perspective of this big, new world they have entered.
  5. Hold your baby: Give your baby plenty of snuggle time. Caress their baby fingers and toes and rock them close to your heart. This closeness helps to create an everlasting bond with your baby and encourages healthy emotional and physical growth.

I have condensed a huge topic into a very small post, but I have included what I feel are some of the most important points of early infant attachment. I encourage you to continue to read more on the topic of early attachments with the resources I have listed below. As a reader, if you have any other suggestions or comments on this subject, please share!

Further Reading:

Zero To Three National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families

About Attachment Theory

Secure or Insecure Attachment in Infancy Largely Shapes Who We Are Today

Attachment Parenting International

Attachment Security in Infancy and Early Adulthood: A 20 Year Longitudinal Study

 

Originally posted 2012-06-26 06:23:48.

  • Kim, I’m so excited for you!!

    I did most of the things on your list. The one I’m not sure I did was to study my baby and learn his cries. They all sounded the same to me haha. He was a loud crier (still is) and it wasn’t until he was a bit older that I could tell his cries apart (whimper, complaining, frightened, etc.).

    I read Baby Brain Rules too and thought it was good, especially that the best thing pregnant women can do should be to do nothing (e.g. rest!).