Learning to build relationships

You can give your baby the best start in life simply by being a loving parent. When your baby’s needs are met, they learn to trust you and the wider world. By loving them, you are helping them learn to build good relationships with you and other people too. Attachment is about the key relationship that develops between you and your baby in the first two years of their life. Attachment is important for everyone who has a key role in their life, particularly parents and caregivers. Creating attachment also helps your baby’s brain to develop.

Emotional connections and attachment can start even before birth with the physical link between mother and baby. You may be thinking about:

  • what your child will be like
  • possible names – will their name connect them to the wider family, or be a new name just for them?
  • how you will manage
  • how your baby will fit in with the family and the wider world.

Attachment is important
Once your baby is born, creating attachment and a secure relationship with you sets a pattern for future relationships.

  • From the beginning, your baby is learning to trust you and the world. Trust builds as they learn that their most important adults love them.
  • They learn that their needs can be met and that the world is a safe place for them to explore. They will also be more able to cope with stressful experiences in a positive way.
  • First relationships help to build the child’s sense of who they are and what they can expect in relationships with other people.
  • As trust grows, attachment helps your baby’s brain to develop.

How does attachment happen?
The most important thing for a baby is their attachment with the key people who care for them. All the loving attention that you give your baby helps to make and strengthen the millions of connections in your baby’s brain.

Right from the start, your baby is ready to learn and you are learning about your baby. Your relationship builds with lots of time and practice. Take time to hold your baby, gaze at them, talk and sing to them, listen to them and cuddle them.

  • Your baby learns through all their senses – touch, seeing, hearing, tasting and smell. All the sensory input helps create connections in the brain. Repeating experiences over and again strengthens these connections.
  • Giving time and attention to your baby helps you get in tune with your baby. With time, your baby learns that they are loved and can trust you, and you learn to understand and make sense of their needs by reading their cues and signals.

How can I build an attachment with my baby?

  • Respond to your baby when they need to be held or when they need food.
  • Be gentle as you care for your baby and talk about what you are doing whether it is feeding, changing, bathing or putting them to bed.
  • Spend time with your baby. Make eye contact when you read, talk, sing and play with them.
  • Be loving – hug and hold your baby. Give them time to respond to you with a look, a sound or reaching out or snuggling in.
  • Try to ‘tune in’ to your baby – think about what they are letting you know about their needs. At times, they may need to be held, or for you to talk to them, or something different to look at, or maybe a quiet time.
  • Enjoy doing things together – something you can both see or touch, a book you are reading, or a game you are playing – like peek-a-boo.

Sometimes it’s hard…
All parents have times when they can be worried or tense. Caring for a baby is a big job. Your close relationship with your baby means that when you are stressed, your baby may feel stressed too.

It is important to have someone you trust to talk to at these times. New parents groups and playgroups can also be good places to share the joys and frustrations of the early weeks.


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