Attachment: A Connection for Life

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The deep emotional bond between a baby and the person who provides most of his care is called Attachment.
Just like most parents feel a strong connection with their newborn after birth, babies also become attached to their parents.

Responding to your baby’s needs in warm, sensitive and consistent ways helps develop attachment. This is especially important when your baby is sick, upset or distressed. It also builds as you go about your daily routines with your baby.

Usually, a baby’s first attachment happens quite naturally. When your baby cries and you try to give him what he needs, as simple as a feeding, a cuddle, a diaper change, or just holding him- that is when your baby gets attached. When you respond warmly, your baby learns that he can trust you, and rely on you for comfort and safety. As you get better at knowing what your baby is telling you and at meeting his needs, your baby feels less stress and more secure.

One of the most important tips for developing a strong bond is by responding quickly to your baby’s cries as it is the best way to show her that she is safe and loved. It should not be confused with “spoiling” or “pampering”. Babies cannot be spoiled. When they’re sick, upset or distressed, they need to know that you are there for them.

Attachment can only be built when two people interact, share and connect. It is a mutual process that is- as you startresponding to your baby’s needs, your baby will start responding to you. You’ll notice that it becomes easier to soothe, that he/she wants to be near you, and reacts to you even from a distance. Holding, rocking or talking softly to your baby all promote attachment.

While a baby’s first attachment is usually with her mother, the bonds that babies develop with their fathers are just as essential. Though babies attach themselves with other adults who care for them, the bonds with their parents are the most crucial ones.

A question frequently asked is that why is attachment so important?
The foundation that lets your child explore the world and have a safe place to come back to is called Attachment. It is the first way that babies learn to organize and recognize their feelings and their actions, by looking up to the person who provides them with care and comfort. Attachment plays a crucial role in one’s long-term emotional health.

Healthy attachment helps your child handle day to day situations as they grow older, such as separating from you (starting child care or school), cooperating with other children, and developing self-control. It helps your child learn how to trust other people and hence is an important part of developing healthy relationships later in life.

Parents generally ask that how are they supposed to know if their baby is developing a secure attachment or not?
There are many early signs that show the development of a secure attachment and these are some of the greatest rewards for the parents:

  • By 4 weeks, your baby will respond to your smile, perhaps with a facial expression or a movement.
  • By 3 months, she’ll smile right back at you.
  • By 4 to 6 months, she will turn to you and expect you to respond when she’s upset.
  • By 7 or 8 months, she’ll have a special response just for you when her visual memory shows marked development (she may also be upset by strangers). Your baby may also start to respond to your stress, anger or sadness.

If your baby doesn’t respond to you or doesn’t show interest in people or make eye contact, consult a pediatrician.