Infant attachment is not a new idea; it is simply another way to describe maternal bonding. Bonding is the powerful attachment that occurs between parents and the baby. It is this feature that makes parents want to offer profuse care, affection, and feed and protect the infant. Bonding is what makes parents get up at 3 am to change the diaper or feed the baby. For decades it has been known that infant bonding is essential for a healthy and loving relationship between the infant and adult parent.
Doctors continue to learn about bonding and insist that a strong connection between a parent and baby provides the child with a role model of what an intimate relationship is. This helps to create a sense of security and positive self-esteem in the growing child. It is the parent’s reactions and responses to the infant that eventually affect the infant’s physical and emotional well being.
Experts in childhood claim that infant attachment is a very important phase in the healthy growth of an infant. Infant attachment is a process that takes months. The attachment or bonding period starts soon after the birth of an infant and continues until the infant starts to become independent.
The process of bonding starts with feeding, eye-to-eye contact, comforting and sleeping close to the baby, understanding the baby’s cries and laughs, and playing with baby.
There are no mandatory infant attachment criteria because some women may not have time or may prefer not to breastfeed the baby. However, it is the quality of time spent with the baby that is vital. There are always variations in the life of a baby or a parent; so no set of rules are universal. However, irrespective of the variations caring of the baby should be done with love and affection using long periods of touch and eye-to-eye contact.
Most babies have an ingrained idea about bonding, but this is not so with some parents. Some parents seem to think a few minutes of holding the baby soon after birth is enough for bonding. Sometimes bonding may be delayed especially if the newborn is ill and in a hospital setting. All parents should understand that bonding is a dynamic process that matures with time. Bonding has its roots in how parents respond to the newborn baby. Some parents have no idea about bonding until they see the newborn smile or giggle.
For new parents the process of bonding may take time. Experts recommend that bonding can be started by touching or some type of skin-to-skin contact. Babies are very sensitive to skin contact and feel safe.
Even at young age, babies do understand eye contact and can follow objects with their eyes. Babies can tell from facial expression what a parent is feeling and may even mimic similar gestures. But most of all babies love the human voice and enjoy some type of communication on a daily basis. Most parents do not realize the importance of conversation as they feel that babies cannot speak; but remember babies can hear very well.
There is no magic bullet for bonding and there are no formulas. All a parent needs to do is meet the baby’s need with regular love and affection.
Infant Attachment to Parenting Skills