Attachment is a deep, lasting bond that develops between a caregiver and child during the baby’s first few years of life. This attachment is crucial to the growth of a baby’s body and mind. Babies who have this bond and feel loved have a better chance to grow up to be adults who trust others and know how to return affection.
What You Might Be Seeing
• Have brief periods of sleep, crying or fussing, and quiet alertness many times each day
• Often cry for long periods for no apparent reason
• Love to be held and cuddled
• Respond to and imitate facial expressions
• Love soothing voices and respond to them with smiles and small noises
• Grow and develop every day
• Learn new skills quickly and can outgrow difficult behaviors in a matter of weeks
What You Can Do
No one knows your child like you do, so you are in the best position to recognize and fulfill your child’s needs. Parents who give lots of loving care and attention to their babies help their babies develop a strong attachment. Affection stimulates your child to grow, learn, connect with others, and enjoy life. Here are some ways to promote bonding:
• Respond when your baby cries. Try to understand what he or she is saying to you. You can’t “spoil” babies with too much attention—they need and benefit from a parent’s loving care, even when they seem inconsolable.
• Hold and touch your baby as much as possible. You can keep him or her close with baby slings, pouches, or backpacks (for older babies).
• Use feeding and diapering times to look into your baby’s eyes, smile, and talk to your baby.
• Read, sing, and play peek-a-boo. Babies love to hear human voices and will try to imitate your voice and the sounds you make.
• As your baby gets a little older, try simple games and toys. Once your baby can sit up, plan on spending lots of time on the floor with toys, puzzles, and books.
• If you feel you are having trouble bonding with your infant, don’t wait to get help! Talk to your doctor or your baby’s pediatrician as soon as you can.
The best gift you can give your baby is YOU. The love and attention you give your baby now will stay with him or her forever and will help your baby grow into a healthy and happy child and adult.
This tip sheet was created with information from experts in national organizations that work to prevent child maltreatment and promote well-being. At http://www.childwelfare.gov/preventing/promoting/parenting you can download this tip sheet and get more parenting tips, or call 800.394.3366.