A secure attachment with your baby matters because attachment styles influence how your child handles social and emotional relationships in adult life.
When is secure attachment established
Preattachment (birth to about 6 weeks)
Your baby will act the same if they are left around strangers.
Attachment in progress (6 weeks to 8 months)
Your baby will not show a clear preference between parents and strangers, but will react differently/uniquely towards parents.
Clear attachment (6 months to 18 months)
When you are separated from your baby, they might begin to fuss.
Reciprocal attachment (18 months to 2 years old)
Your baby will begin to understand you will come and go and will try to negotiate with you to get you to stay with them for longer.
Early signs of secure attachment
Starting from 4 weeks, you will begin to notice some actions that indicate secure attachment:
- Responding to your smile with some facial expression
- Smile at you
- Respond when you are upset
- Create a unique response for you
- Gets upset by strangers
Building secure attachments
Understanding your baby’s unique cues
Fulfilling your child’s needs plays a large role in building a secure attachment. When babies cry and fuss, they are communicating with you. From birth, babies have preferences and unique personalities so it might be difficult to decode what your baby is signalling. Don’t worry though! Parents only need to pick up on roughly one third of their baby’s signals to form a secure attachment.
- Note facial expressions and movement that signal their sensory needs
- Listen to the sounds they make to further pinpoint their needs
- Pay attention to what type of sounds, environments, motions, and touch your baby enjoys
Appropriate eating and sleeping frequency
Many of your child’s signals are about their need for food or sleep. Being more attentive to these signals can help your baby stay energized and ready to interact and strengthen their attachment with you for longer periods of time. Although feeding and sleeping schedules change based on development, it is still a good idea to keep track of your baby’s signals.
Have fun and interact with your baby
Talking, laughing, and playing with your baby are just as important as proper sleep and nutrition. During these moments your baby is taking in information about tone, body language, emotions and learning more about you. Of course, babies will have preferences of activities and games so you should try a variety of activities to see what works best. Babies can often get overstimulated easily after bursts of play so don’t be too surprised if you only have their attention for 5 or 10 minutes at a time.