The concept of the attachment bond is based on the nonverbal emotional relationship that exists between an infant and their caregiver. This article includes information on the importance of secure attachment bonding, tips for parents to establish this nonverbal emotional relationship with their infant, followed by myths and facts regarding the concept.
The nonverbal emotional relationship between an infant and the primary caregiver ensures that children acquire the best foundation for life. The success of this wordless relationship enables a child to feel secure enough to develop fully, and affects how he or she will interact, communicate, and form relationships throughout life.
Secure attachment bond and its importance
This wordless interactive emotional exchange draws the infant and the caretaker together, ensuring that your infant will feel safe and be calm enough to experience optimal development of their nervous system. The attachment bond is a key factor in the way your infant’s brain organizes itself and influences your child’s social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development.
A secure attachment bond is important because it’s an interactive and dynamic process. Both you and your baby participate in an exchange of nonverbal emotional cues that make your baby feel understood and safe. This relationship becomes the foundation of your child’s ability to connect with others in a healthy way. Qualities that you may take for granted in adult relationships—like empathy, understanding, love, and the ability to be responsive to others—are first learned in infancy.
There are a few myths and facts regarding secure attachment that parents and caregivers need to be aware of. Below are a few examples:
Myth: “My baby is attached to me because I gave birth to him or her.”
• Fact: Infants have independent nervous systems that may be different from yours. What makes you feel good may not be the same thing that makes your infant feel good. So unless you look and listen to your infant’s emotional cues, you won’t understand his or her individual needs.
• Fact: Bonding and attachment happen instinctively between mothers and babies, but, unfortunately, loving your baby doesn’t automatically result in secure attachment. Secure attachment develops from your ability to manage your stress, respond to your baby’s cues, and successfully soothe your infant.
Myth: “Always responding to their needs makes babies spoiled.”
• Fact: On the contrary, the more responsive you are to an infant’s needs, the less “spoiled” the baby will be as they get older. Bonding creates trust, and children with secure attachments tend to be more independent, not less.
Myth: “Secure attachment is a one-way process that focuses on accurately reading my baby’s cues.”
• Fact: Attachment is a two–way, interactive process where your baby reads your cues as you read his or hers.
In order to create an efficient secure attachment bond with your infant, parents need to take care of themselves as well and find ways to stay calm in stressful times. Since babies can’t communicate verbally, they are especially attuned to signs of anxiety or stress. An anxious caregiver can actually add to the baby’s stress, making him or her harder to soothe. If possible, when you are feeling stressed, try to find ways to calm down before you interact with your baby.
Parenting tips for creating a secure attachment bond
Secure attachment is an ongoing partnership between you and your baby. As time goes on, it will become easier to understand the cries, interpret the signals, and respond to your baby’s needs for food, rest, love, and comfort—try to be patient with yourself and your baby as you learn about each other.
Secure attachment bond tip #1: Learn to understand your baby’s unique Cues
As parents of multiple children know, there is no one simple formula for meeting a baby’s needs. From birth, each baby has a unique personality and preferences. Each baby’s nervous system is unique as well. Some babies might be soothed by noise and activity whereas others might prefer calm and quiet. The key is to learn what your baby needs and respond to them accordingly.
Your task is to become a “sensory detective” and find out what your baby is communicating and how best to respond.
•Watch your baby’s facial expressions and body movements for clues about sensory needs. For example, your baby may adjust body position or facial expression, or move his or her arms and legs in response to your voice, or to indicate he’s cold or needs to be held and cuddled.
•Become familiar with the kinds of sounds your baby makes and what these sounds mean. For example, the “I’m hungry” sound may be a short, low-pitched cry, while the “I’m tired” sound may be a choppy wail.
•Note the kind of touch your baby enjoys and the amount of pressure that he or she experiences as pleasurable. With almost every touch your newborn is learning about life. The more tender your touch, the more your baby will find the world a comforting place.
•Pay attention to the kinds of movements, sounds, and environments your baby enjoys. Some babies are comforted by motion, such as rocking or being walked back and forth, while others respond to sounds like soft music, or a change of environment such as being carried outside.
Sometimes babies will be fussy no matter what you do, as when teething, sick, or undergoing a big developmental change. When this happens, keep up your efforts to communicate with and soothe your baby. Your patience, love, and care benefit your baby even if he or she continues to fuss. By learning what it takes to calm and soothe your baby, you initiate trust, and your baby begins the process of learning how to self soothe.
Secure attachment bond tip #2: Eating and sleeping provide important opportunities
Many of your baby’s early signs and signals are about the need for food and proper rest. Increasing the frequency of feedings or adding in some extra time for rest where appropriate can make a big difference in your baby’s ability to engage and interact when awake.
Without proper rest, a baby cannot be calm and alert and ready to engage with you. Babies sleep a lot (often 16-18 hours a day in the first few months), and your baby’s sleep signals will come more often than you might expect. Often, babies who are overtired can act hyper-alert and move frenetically.
Schedules are helpful, but growth spurts and developmental changes may cause your baby’s needs to change every few weeks so it is helpful to pay close attention to your baby’s unique signs and signals.
Secure attachment bond tip #3: Talk, laugh, and play with your baby
The importance of having fun, playing with, holding, and sharing happiness with your baby cannot be overstated. Smiles, laughter, touch, and interaction are as important to a baby’s development as food or sleep. Your body language, tone of voice, and loving touch are all important ways of communicating with your baby.
When you see signs that your baby wants to play, try to relax and then enjoy exchanging smiles, funny faces, and happy coos with your baby. If you feel uncomfortable or unsure about how to play with your baby, keep trying. Any discomfort or embarrassment should go away when you experience the joys of interacting with your child.
Secure attachment bond tip #4: Let go of trying to be the “perfect” parent
You don’t have to be a perfect parent all of the time in order to bond with your baby. Just do your best, and don’t worry if you don’t always know what your baby wants. What makes attachment secure, rather than insecure, is the quality and responsiveness of the interaction with your baby and a willingness to notice and repair a missed signal.
Secure attachment bond tip #5: Dads can be primary caretakers, too
In households where the mother is the breadwinner and dad stays at home, it is equally important for the father—as the infant’s primary caretaker—to connect emotionally with his baby.
Dads, as the primary caretakers of their baby, can share activities that include:
•Bottle feeding: Dad can form a special bond with his infant when handling feedings and diaper changes by looking into his baby’s eyes, smiling, and talking.
•Talking, reading, or singing to your baby: Even though your baby doesn’t understand what you’re saying, hearing dad’s calm, reassuring voice conveys safety.
•Playing peek-a-boo and mirroring your baby’s movements.
•Mimicking your baby’s cooing and other vocalizations.
•Holding and touching your baby as much as possible: Fathers can keep baby close by using a front baby carrier, pouch, or sling during daily activities.
•Letting baby feel the different textures of dad’s face.
Challenges to creating a secure attachment bond with your baby
Ideally, a secure attachment bond develops without a hitch. But if either you or your baby is dealing with a problem that interferes with your ability to relax and focus on one another, a secure attachment bond can be delayed or interrupted.
Challenges in babies that can affect secure attachment
Most babies are born ready to connect to their caregivers, but sometimes babies have problems that get in the way of secure attachment. These include:
•Babies with compromised nervous systems
•Babies who experienced problems in the womb or in delivery
•Babies with health problems at birth or at a very early age
•Premature babies who spent time in intensive care
•Babies who were separated from their primary caretakers at birth
•Babies who have experienced a series of caretakers
The sooner more challenging problems are identified, the easier they are to correct. For help, you can turn to your pediatrician, an infant mental health specialist, or someone trained in early intervention.
Challenges in parents that can affect secure attachment
Parents who themselves did not experience a secure attachment bond when they were infants may have trouble emotionally connecting with their babies. Other challenges that can get in the way of your ability to bond with your baby include:
•Depression, anxiety, or other emotional problems
•Drug or alcohol problems
•High levels of stress (from financial problems, lack of support, overwork, etc.)
•An abusive, neglected, or chaotic childhood history
•Living in an unsafe environment
•Mainly negative memories of your own childhood experiences
In order to learn more about the types of attachment, please refer to the information in this link.
This post was the summary of the article , How to Build a Secure Attachment Bond with Your Baby.