What is Attachment?

Simply put, attachment is the emotional connection between child and parent/caregiver. Parents have a vital role in shaping baby’s attachment. It’s their nurturing response to baby’s signals that help shape attachment. When baby’s needs are met, they feel safe, secure, and comfortable to explore their environment. It’s the safe and secure attachment that babies have with their parents/caregivers that predict how well they will be able to form healthy attachments as adults. The attachment you have with your baby helps them form a healthy attachment to you, however, you feeling a strong attachment to your child doesn’t necessarily mean they feel the same strong attachment to you.

In other words, attachment is about baby’s relationship with you, NOT your relationship with baby. However, as the parent, it’s your responsibility to help baby develop a secure attachment with you. Baby can’t do it by themselves. The good news is that there are many ways to become a safe attachment figure for you baby.

Here are some ways to foster a healthy attachment for your baby:

  • respond to baby’s cries
  • fulfill their need (feed, diaper change, etc)
  • comfort baby when they are sick, hurt, tired, etc
  • play with baby
  • know when to support baby and when to let baby struggle a bit as they learn knew skills
  • keep age-appropriate expectations
  • set reasonable limits and boundaries
  • use positive discipline
  • repair any damage that was done to the relationship (it’s the adult that has to reunite with the child, not the other way around)

Attachment is ongoing but what you do in the early years will set the stage for what kind of adult your child turns into. Fostering a healthy attachment to you as a baby, supports your child in growing into an adult capable of forming healthy, trusting relationships with other people. Then when they have children of their own, they will hopefully foster secure attachment with their children.