How to Create, and Keep, a Secure Attachment to Your Baby
By Director of School-Based Mental Health Melissa Bradley, LMHC
Attachment, quite simply, is having an emotional bond with another person. The earliest bonds are formed between children and their primary caregivers. This bond has a tremendous impact on a child’s life – it’s usually the most important one he’ll ever make.
At birth, a baby is helpless and dependent on his caregiver to meet his needs. Without the caregiver, the baby would not survive. In a healthy relationship, a baby forms a secure attachment with his caregiver, and in doing so, the baby feels comfortable showing his true feelings and trusting that the caregiver will respond to his needs. For example, when a baby is scared, he may cry. When the baby is comforted by his primary caregiver, he may stop. Pretty simple huh?
So why is something so seemingly simple, so important? A securely attached baby will grow up to have trust in his world and in the people around him. He will have higher self-esteem, and he will learn to develop strong relationships with others. Not to mention he will be much easier to parent because he will be comfortable letting you know exactly how he’s feeling.
So how do you ensure you are forming a secure bond with your child? Here is a list of 5 things you can start today:
- When you feed your baby, take the time to make eye contact, stroke his hair or hand, and talk to him. Tell him about anything you want. He won’t judge you. He just likes hearing the sound of your voice.
- When your baby is crying, try to soothe him, think about creating slow and steady rhythms such as humming or singing, rocking, or rubbing his back in a slow and steady motion.
- When your baby is happy, smile with him and try to mirror his expressions. Copy the faces and sounds he is making. You’ll find that he will love it and it will keep going back and forth. This is connection!
- When your baby is exploring his environment, give him just enough help so he can accomplish the task on his own. Refrain from doing it for him. As a head’s up, this can require a lot of patience.
- And the last one, well this one’s about you. When you’re feeling tired, irritated, worried, or angry. Set your baby down in a safe place and take a time out for YOU. Take 5 deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth, and say to yourself, “I am a great parent. I’ve got this!”
You see, creating and keeping a secure attachment with your baby requires tuning in to the feelings of both people in the relationship. You guessed it, that’s both you and your baby. This attunement will be felt on a deeply emotional level and will have a great impact on your health and mental health for years to come. Parenting is tough, but attaching doesn’t have to be.