How Infant Attachment is Formed Between Baby and Caretaker

by | Aug 19, 2020 | Infant, New parent, Newborns, Pregnancy


Infant attachment is the deep emotional bond between a baby and the caretaker (most especially the Mother). This attachment becomes even more apparent when the caretaker responds to the baby. For the attachment to begin on the infant’s side, they will initiate a grimace or make different faces. Newborns are beautifully equipped to smile unknowingly.

The very first attachment that babies create with their caretakers happen when the caretaker responds to the baby’s needs warmly and consistently. Whether it’s feeding, a diaper change, or a cuddle, the responses that the baby receives during times when comfort is needed determines the amount of trust that the infant can give to the adult. Parents don’t need to be worried about spoiling the baby as this concept is not something they’re familiar with yet. When the baby is given enough attention and comfort, caretakers will be quick to notice that the baby can be easily lulled to sleep or soothed whenever they cry. 

Read more about bonding with your baby and helping them grow

The value of infant attachment to the primary caretaker

They will smile and when they do, it elicits a response from the people around them. While it’s a natural reaction for adults, when we smile back, giggle, laugh, or many any appreciative noises around the baby, it creates a mirror response within them. These responses are usually in the form of giggles and smiles. Once the exchange of reactions becomes constant, it becomes part of the baby’s early habits. This exchange is called, “serve and return”. It can be compared to a tennis game. One person serves and the other returns. But in this scenario, it’s an exchange of smiling and smiling back. This back and forth communication between the caretaker and the baby cements the bond and attachment shared between the two. 

Intentional ways babies communicate

From zero to three weeks of age, the baby communicates unintentionally through smiles, giggles, and the faces that they make. While adults find it charming and funny at times, babies don’t do this on purpose at all. The only explanation for this is that they’re just brand new babies. They’re getting used to life outside the womb. But after about four weeks, babies begin to smile intentionally as a response to the adult interactions they have on a daily basis. They’ve learned by the adults’ response that when they smile, the adults smile back. It then creates this fun and exciting interaction between the baby and the adult. And so that’s how it all begins.

It’s very interesting how a series of initial interactions with a baby marks the beginning of their language learning journey. Because, that is where language and conversation stems… talking back and forth with the other person. And so, even though it’s not entirely the beginning of verbal language, it helps in forming the foundation of language development within the baby in a way that they can uniquely understand the cues given to them by adults.

Meet Ann

I'm a child development specialist, parent coach and teacher trainer. I've cared for countless babies in child development programs, plus 3 kids, 3 grand babies and 5 foster babies! I LOVE babies and would come hold yours if I could. ❤️

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