Why Bonding with Your Baby Matters So Much
By Meri Levy, MFT
Attachment to one or more caring adults is the most important developmental task your baby will complete during the first three years of life. If this attachment is not achieved, a child will likely have lifelong problems in forming relationships.
Luckily, babies are very good at teaching us how to help them become attached. Their cries, their coos and smiles, and later separation anxiety help us to see how much our children want to be attached to us. Meeting a baby’s early attachment needs is what allows him to venture forth into the world and learn to be a separate human being, secure in the knowledge that he is loved and cared for.
Our attachment to our children is what causes the anxiety and worry about being a good parent and the drive to maintain our baby’s well-being. If a couple is arguing about the best way to care for their baby, it is a sure sign that they both are firmly attached to their baby, which is a good thing.
Attachment with your baby can bring up different feelings in different people. It can feel stifling or overwhelming, or is may be blissful and heart-warming, depending upon your own feelings about attachment. It’s helpful to be aware of these feelings and to recognize that by staying connected in a responsive way to your baby, you help him or her develop the ability to love others and nurture their own children when they grow up.
Our attachments to loved ones, including family, spouses and friends, are the fuel that helps us nurture our children. Make sure you don’t neglect your own attachment needs now that you’re a parent. If you are having difficulties in your adult relationships, focus more attention on those connections. Making your relationships with loved ones strong, and getting coaching or counseling if needed, can help maintain your own mental health and well-being as well as the well-being of your children as they grow.