The first relationship between infant and caregiver is known as the attachment bond. The significance of this interaction cannot be overstated. It is love. Our first love.
Usually the birth mother is the primary caregiver, and therefore, the only person privy to this bond with baby. In cases where the father, adoptive parent, or other caregiver becomes the primary caregiver, the attachment bond is created with that individual instead.
Attachment bonding is of critical importance because it directly correlates to the way the infant relates to others in the future.
Secure Attachment refers to a successful bond, where both parties are “in tune” with one another. A nurturing, positive bond in infancy and early childhood generally leads to healthy, trusting relationships in adulthood.
Insecure Attachment refers to an unsuccessful bond, where communication is not “in tune.” Such a negative or negligent bond can have detrimental outcomes for the child.
The science behind attachment bond shows the infant brain is not fully formed, and there are few neural pathways because these are formed through experiences. Coinciding with the brain’s development over the first three to five years, the child is almost completely dependent on the primary caregiver, giving that person the sole responsibility of influencing the development of the child’s neural pathways through hopefully positive experiences.
Some ways to help stay attuned to your baby and create a secure bond are to hold your baby and look at your baby. Spending time with your baby, being emotionally available to your baby, and tending your baby’s needs are critical components of a positive attachment bond.
Not all caregivers are equipped to be that positive person the baby needs, but there are resources available to help those who need it. Low-cost parenting courses can help teach coping skills and outline age-appropriate behaviors and expectations so the parent can understand how to guide the child positively. Mothers who withhold affection may be suffering from postpartum depression and should be treated professionally as soon as possible.
The attachment bond is incredibly important and greatly impacts the joy you and your baby experience.