It is emotionally vital for babies to form a strong attachment bond with their main caregiver, but there are many myths surrounding emotional cues and attachments. Here's the truth behind some of the common rumors, along with advice that might help you bond with your new baby.
Why is attachment so important?
John Bowlby's pioneering work on how infants attach to their caregivers shows that when a baby's needs are met, the baby is more likely to feel cared for and understood, growing up into a happy, confident child. In contrast, babies and young children who have insecure attachments to their caregivers learn the lesson that they cannot expect their needs to be met and may experience difficulties relating to others in life.
Is love enough?
Many parents think that as long as they love their children, a secure attachment bond will necessarily form. However, your baby responds more to your behavior than your emotions in early life, so love alone is not enough. You need to look for your baby's cues, respond to their needs and keep your own stress under control (as babies are observing your cues while you observe theirs). This can sound like a tall order, especially for mothers suffering from the baby blues, but you may be surprised by how quickly you learn how to read your baby's signals. Look at their facial expressions, remember the noises they make when they are hungry or tired, and keep track of types of touch and movement that seem to soothe the baby.
Do you have to pick up on all of your cues?
It's natural to worry that you might not understand every single one of your baby's cues and that you might therefore facilitate the development of an insecure attachment. Thankfully, you can maintain a strong and loving bond with your child be responding to the majority of their signals and by always attempting to repair any disconnect that you notice. Being a perfect parent is not required. Just be responsive, attentive and willing to self-monitor.
How can parents calm themselves in stressful times?
Since stress responses are a key part of secure attachment bonds, it's vital for parents to spend time taking care of themselves in order to manage their negative emotions. For example, make sure you regularly get some time off to rest or pursue your other endeavours, as constantly working to care for your baby can result in a short temper. It can also be meaningful to spend time away from your baby choosing new clothes or toys, or visiting an ornament shop where you can pick up treasured mementos. The trick is to know when you need a break and to take measures to ensure you get that break. If you feel upset or angry while caring for your baby, try to take slow, deep breaths and get your mood on an even keel before you actively interact with the child.
Amanda Meeks is a stay at home mom and avid writer. She enjoys covering a variety of topics to post on the web. You can read her interesting articles on many websites and blogs.