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Because family life matters

Looking at attachment

A close and enduring bond

When parents and carers respond to a baby’s needs to be fed, comforted, kept warm or stimulated, the baby learns that they are loved and lovable. Even though they can’t put it into words, they understand their parent is a source of comfort and security. They miss their caregivers and feel relieved when they return. So when babies cry after a brief separation from their caregiver and actively seek to be close to them when they are reunited, it shows that they are securely attached.

What difference does it make?

With a strong emotional foundation of trust, children can grow into self-assured, competent, caring adults. Securely attached children are more positive, friendly, confident, and eager to learn at school. Young people are less likely to engage in anti-social behaviour, have fewer mental health problems, and cope better with the physical and emotional changes they are going through.

Without a secure attachment as babies, in later life people can experience feelings of loss and anxiety, poor self esteem, and an inability to trust others and form positive relationships. The kind of relationship they have with parents and carers becomes a template for their future interactions and friendships, so a strong, loving relationship is important.

Love, comfort and baby talk

As well as meeting their physical needs, we also need to meet their emotional needs – such as their need for affection or encouragement. Expressing affection and tuning in to our infant’s feelings to give comfort when they are crying or distressed are practical ways to build these connections. Babies also love looking at faces, and our eyes are our most powerful bonding tool. A loving expression goes straight to the heart! Every time we smile and look animated, ‘happy’ hormones are released which help our infant’s brain develop healthily.

Helping new parents build the strong bond

Small things done consistently matter more than the occasional big effort, so in Care for the Family’s new resource TotSlot we ask mums and dads to identify something they can say or do with their child in the coming week that will build up their relationship.

A secure attachment is no guarantee that there will not be storms in life, but it does help our children to remain rooted in love, be secure in their worth and able to live healthy, independent lives as adults.

Totslot is a series of ten minute talks looking at the key principles of bonding and attachment and helping parents explore how to develop a close bond with their children. It is presented using flashcards in an A3 presentation folder and is ideal for running in a local setting such as a baby or toddler group.

For general enquiries or questions about Totslot please email learning@cff.org.uk