Infant Attachment

Secure Attachment Between Infant and Caregiver<br> Makes the Child Feel Safe, Secure & Loved

Secure Attachment Between Infant and Caregiver
Makes the Child Feel Safe, Secure & Loved

Can attachment between infant and caregiver be stronger than that with the parent? My baby has developed deep attachment to his professional caregivers.

He was born with a very large tongue, which along with associated health issues demanded prolonged hospital care. He was released after 10 months and yet needed to be fed through a tube passed down his nose. The other medical problems also needed constant attention.

For lack of available nurses, it took me good 2 months to organize 24 hrs. skillful nursing services at home. During this period I took care of all my son’s needs. But then I had to get back to my work.

I am grateful for the help.
I have resumed my job, and my son is doing well under the care of the professional caregivers. He is playful and happy. At 16 months he is walking holding on to furniture, and has passed swallow study, but is still unable to eat much because of the large tongue.

The problem I am having is the attachment between infant and caregiver. One day, when the caregiver came to work, he was with me, even then he cried and cried until she picked him up. He hugged her and pretty much told me who was important here.

The caregiver tells me that it happens with a lot of children, but I feel this has happened because I am not around as much.
What would be the best way to deal with this situation Doc?
Thank you.

The Expert, Ren Chats Answers

Don’t be.
Your son needs to be cared for, and you need to be free to go to work. Both aspects are being well looked after by the caregivers.

Failing infant mother attachment?

Attachment to the mother begins in the womb. If for any reason the function of this relationship breaks, the infants seek solace and comfort from their caregivers. Early life attachment between infants and their caregivers is a dynamic bi-directional process: The caregivers provide protection, which infants complement by their fondness for them.

Since birth, the professional caregivers have been necessary for the survival of your son. The healthy attachment between him and the caregiver is a blessing. It makes him feel safe, secure and loved – see the diag. given above. He also gets the necessary sensory stimulation essential for his social and emotional development.

This, however, does not diminish your role as the parent. Parenting is the labour of love. More you do, deeper is the attachment. Nurturing an infant has several facets. Protection is one of them. Presence is an essential aspect of protection, and protection is crucial for the survival of an infant, especially for one who is in so many ways dependent on the caregiver.

Infant attachment

It is neither the food nor the play that contribute to the initial emotional bond between an infant and the caregiver. Infants’ attachment figure is that secure person to whom they can reach in times of threat, distress, and illness. To win their confidence, one has to be genuinely involved in the infant care activities.

Does this mean that your son is not attached to you?

Thoughtful motherly approach always results in gratifying bonding. Effective interaction between a mother and her child is the key to mutual happiness. Surely, you must be somewhere on the ladder of hierarchy of his chosen caregivers.

Hierarchy? How do infants determine that!

The determinant of infant attachment is care and responsiveness. Infants set the hierarchy of their caregivers depending on:
1. The amount of time they spend in the care of each person.
2. The quality of protection and comfort each person provides.
3. Each caregiver’s emotional investment in the child.
4. Social cues provided by the caregiver.

This way the infant not only ensures self-protection but also brings about reciprocal hierarchical bonding with the caregivers.

Most infants are attached 3-4 caregivers, of whom they choose the one who attends to their needs most readily and constantly to be the principal attachment figure. They take their time to choose the one who provides them with a secure base, from which they can venture out independently to explore their environment and be able to return to safety at all times.

Indeed, one of the vital functions of the principal attachment figure is the regulation of fear in the infant. When the child is frightened, she should be able to provide prompt protection and affection. She should be readily available to soothe infant’s ruffled feelings.

Secure attachment is the core of child’s personality development

It is the secure attachment with their caregivers during early childhood which helps children socialize happily with rest of the people in their environment; not only in infancy but throughout their lives - see the diag. given above. Secure attachment between infant and caregiver brings about healthy social and emotional development of the child. This is what makes attachment between infant and caregivers a lot different from the relation children have with their peers and adult companions.

Temper tantrum like behaviour

The desire to reach to his secure attachment figure is only natural. His crying and other actions were indeed to let you know that the caregiver was his primary and secure attachment.

Although temperament may influence child’s behaviour, it does not really determine the type of attachment child develops for each caregiver. Less time child spends with the mother, more is the risk of an insecure relationship between the mother and the child. Vice versa, more time the child spends with the caregiver, more secure is his bond of attachment to his caregiver.

Should you bring a change in the primary caregiver?

Emotional security during the first 2 to 5 years is crucial for the normal psycho-social development of the child. Attachment is not developed overnight. Both the infant and the caregiver need time to adapt to each other’s needs and responses. They need to learn to decode each other's cues and behaviour. Only then can they have a secure affectionate bond. And only thereafter would the caregiver be able to provide the child with the required sensory stimulation.

Emotional insecurities in the mother

Mother’s own unresolved fears, hurt and pain, create contradictory clues for the child. Rather than being the provider of support and comfort, the mother then becomes the source of child’s distress.

A child seeks safety from an attachment figure whose behaviour he finds scary or distressing. In such cases, secure attachment between infant and caregiver would preserve child’s emotional, social, and intellectual well-being.- For more click "Parenting With Maternal Depression Risks Childhood Development".

Would attachment between infant and caregiver hamper his development?

Professional caregivers generally have secure attachment to the infants they care for. They, on the basis of urgency, give precedence to the needs of infants. They are quick in relieving distress and slow in showing their disapproval for the behaviour and shortcomings of an infant.

It is better to have a secure attachment between infant and caregiver than no secure attachment at all. A secure relationship between infant and caregiver, in face of disruption of parent-child relationship, predicts a better social and emotional adaptation than having no secure attachment relationships at all.

Comments for Infant Attachment

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Aug 12, 2017
by: Anonymous

This was very helpful and informative explaination

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