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Bonding With Infants
May 31, 2020
Four out of ten infants do not form secure attachments with either parent.
Bonding is one of the most important things for parents of a new baby. Babies do not come to the world with an instruction manual. On the contrary, they come as dry sponges ready to absorb anything from their caregivers (mostly mothers). Even though we may not understand what is going on in the world during this critical period, our inborn instincts tell us whether we are safe or in danger.
Children are born programmed to bond with one significant person. In his study, John Bowlby argues that babies have an inborn need to make emotional attachments. Immediately after birth, they start bonding with the mothers through breastfeeding. This early bonding is very implemented in the early stages. As breast-feeding is only a bond afforded to some parents let’s explore other ways in which caregivers can bond with their infants. Other important bonding activities include:
- Giving them a massage
- Helping them calm down when upset
- Playing with them
- Talking to them and especially when feeding and changing diapers
- Reading a book to them
- Showering them with praises
Not all Infants form Secure Attachments
Even with the many ways of bonding with infants in this critical period, some parents still fail to bond with their children. A study by Princeton University indicated that forty percent of infants do not form secure attachments with their primary caregiver. Infants that are insecurely attached mostly develop distrust and fear towards caregivers. This may stay with your child as they develop and they may find that later in life they may have issues finding love.
In her Tedtalk, Hellen Pearson notes that children with secure attachments tend to do well at school later on. Our secure attachments also help us to:
- Feel safe
- Learn how to manage our feelings and behaviors.
- Effectively deal with stress
- Develop high self-esteem and self-reliance as adults
- Form successful social relationships
- Experience comfort and security in our relationships
Imagine having a glass labeled “love” that is only half full. Since the caregivers were uninterested, preoccupied, or even unaware, you have been half full from your infancy stage. Your parents denied you unconditional love, a sense of belonging, and self-esteem that could necessarily fill up the glass.
So, you carry your half-full glass with you, holding it high and hoping that someone will see and fill it. You relentlessly search for a kind of relationship that will overlook your shortcomings and compensate for the loss. Even with the willingness to give out love, your fear that people will not love you back overrules.
This glass will remain half full since the other half could only have been filled by the caregiver’s unconditional love during the infancy stage. With a motive to fill the glass, many adults hop from one relationship to another and end up getting frustrated. Such is afraid of intimacy since opening to another person is to risk rejection.
The time we send with family is worth every second
The best for your baby
It is shocking to know that approximately a third of the United States parents are unaware of what to expect from their newborn. Is there anything that can be done to change this blurry future?
Research is clear about the effects of insecure attachments and simple ways in which caregivers can bond with their infants. A large majority of infant attachment issues are due to the parent’s ignorance about development. This is why it is important to arm ourselves with all of the tools that will set our children up for success. Bonding with your baby can be fun and often times is one of the most rewarding parts of the parenting journey. Try the above tips, and you will bring up children with high self-regard and esteem.
Written by Perfect Agnes
Perfect Aggy is a Kenyan writer with over 6 years experience writing on mental health topics. She has a Masters in Psychology and a Bachelors Degree in Substance abuse counseling.