Attachment is the strong, long-lasting bond, which develops between a baby and her caregiver. This enables a baby to feel safe, free to explore and learn, and helps with forming relationships throughout their lives.
Providing consistent responsive and sensitive care and love during the first few months can help your baby develop. Responding to babies’ cues not only helps them to develop secure attachment but also is the beginning of two-way communication.
Unresponsive care can lead to attachment problems that can have an ongoing negative effect on your baby’s development.
Human beings are designed to connect together – we all need a secure and safe base. People, who have had strong attachments as babies develop an inner sense of security, have an ability to share the feeling with others, enjoy trusting long-term relationships and seek out support.
Over the first few months of life, babies develop attachment relationships with their main caregiver or caregivers. They can form attachments with more than one person. In fact, if there is a problem with the relationship with the main caregiver, a secure attachment relationship with another caring person can help to balance this and give the baby a positive relationship model. This can be a father, grandparent, key childcare worker or anyone who has a main role in caring for the child.
Attachment to others does not affect a baby’s attachment to her main caregiver. It helps her learn about being close to people. However, if babies have too many different relationship patterns to adjust to with different caregivers, it can be difficult for them to be able to develop secure relationships.
When baby tries to get comfort and protection from the people they feel attached to, we call attachment behaviors. This can be by making eye contact, crying, smiling and cooing, holding out their arms, crawling and following and many other signals that parents and carers learn to know.
The child is free to relax, play, explore and learn again when it gets an appropriate response, such as eye contact, a smile, a touch or a quick cuddle.
Even responding to babies’ cues helps to develop a secure attachment, also it is the beginning of two-way communication. Approaching our babies calmly and gently requires most of us to slow down. This may mean that we have to make changes to our own lifestyles in order to be with our babies at their pace that allows us to notice their signals to us.
Young babies can give signals for attention, and also signals for when the care is not quite right. It is important to respond to these signals in ways that meet your baby’s needs because this says to the baby that they have been heard and responded to.
Small babies cannot yet think about someone else’s needs, but babies will develop their own special ways of showing what they need and special patterns of interaction with their parents.
Remember you are the most important part of your baby’s life. If you are worried about your relationship with your baby ask for help.