Infant Attachment


Infant Attachment

Your relationship with your baby starts the day they are born. Over time, babies will become attached to their parents and the love and care they provide.

Baby in Lap

What is attachment?

Attachment is a special relationship that develops over time as you and your baby get to know and trust each other.

Why is attachment important?

Building this attachment is important to your baby “secure base” from which to explore the world and a safe place to come back to for support when things are hard. Their relationship with you shows them how all relationships should work and what to expect from others, and it will help your baby feel safe when difficult things happen or feelings get hard to manage.

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Remember, safe, stable, nurturing relationships not only help children thrive, they are protective, too!

How do I form a secure attachment with my baby?

Babies are not born attached, but they are born ready to become attached to the people who care for them. Attachment is a two-way process. Babies signal their needs in ways that are meant to get your attention: through sounds (crying), movement, and facial expressions at first. Over time, you will learn what their different signals mean and how to respond to them in predictable and consistent ways.

Secure attachments develop through all the little things you do every day to care for and comfort your baby. Babies can’t comfort themselves or take care of their own needs. Remember, you won’t spoil your baby by responding to their cries and doing the things they don’t know how to do. By helping them when they are upset, you are teaching them to trust you and to feel safe telling you when they need you. 

In the beginning, caring for your baby may seem very hard because they aren’t great at signaling their needs. Every parent makes mistakes. With time, you will learn what they like and don’t like and when they are happy or upset. They will “tell” you when something isn’t working. Your job is to notice when that happens and try another approach. Soon, you will get to know and understand each other, and everything will get easier.

The good news is that babies are very resilient. They won’t remember the few times you didn’t get to them quickly or didn’t understand exactly what they wanted. They will remember the hundreds of times you were there when they needed you!



Building a relationship with your baby

Attachment is different for every parent and child, but there are a few things you can do to help build a secure relationship with your baby:

  • Respond to your baby every time they cry. Over time, notice if different cries signal different needs.
  • Provide comfort when they need it: hold your baby, use a soft voice when you talk to them, use gentle touch, etc.
  • Look for and learn individual cues and respond effectively.
  • For example: How much eye contact do they enjoy? Notice when they look away and come back for more. Be there to join in the interaction when they are ready.
  • Be as consistent as you can in your responses.
  • Take advantage of the time your baby is in a quiet, alert state to get to know one another.
  • Take care of yourself! To be most available for your baby, you need to have some time for you, too.
  • Try to get some sleep; sleep when your baby does.
  • Ask for help from others in your family/friend circle for things like shopping or
  • laundry or cooking meals.
  • Schedule some short times away by yourself, even a long bath or a walk around the block alone.

Building a secure relationship is hard work. If you feel like you are having problems, talk to your doctor, a counselor, or your baby’s doctor to get some help.

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Research shows that if you respond consistently to distress and their cues for attention when they are happy, they will not cry as much in the future as babies who had those signals ignored!


Additional Reading

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Common Health Issues

Get answers to some of the most common questions you may have as a new parent.

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The Sound of Your Voice

It’s never too early to start talking, singing, reading, and playing with your child.

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Tummy Time

Learn about a great way to help your baby strengthen and learn new skills.

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