Does Daycare Affect Attachment?

by Autumn Jones

The majority of working parents spend a great deal of energy thinking about child care, because there are a lot of aspects to consider. Will you choose in-home chid care or a daycare facility? How many hours a week will you be apart from your child? What quality of care can you afford? While these are all important considerations, the question that weighs heavily on many parents' mind is whether or not daycare affects attachment? Moms and dads want to know their child will still share a bond with them, even though they spend many hours apart from one another each day.

It's not out of the ordinary for parents to have these thoughts. After all, the desire to feel close with your children is natural, and the concern that leaving your baby in the care of others will threaten that closeness makes sense. However, that worry may also be linked to the rumor that non-parental child care has negative effects on kids and their relationship with their parents. According to Psychology Today, science just can't seem to prove the affects of daycare on children — or at least there are no consistent findings. Over the years, different studies have produced different results, some finding undesirable behaviors linked to daycare, while other studies show children in daycare to be more resilient. But some researchers are discovering that there are other factors influencing the outcomes.

A study conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Youth Development found that family life has more impact on mother-child attachment than daycare. One of the most significant findings was that "cognition, language, and social development at ages 2 years, 3 years, and 4½ years showed almost no evidence suggesting that child outcomes were related to whether or not the child experienced routine child care." So what did seem to make a difference? The quality, frequency, and consistency of the interactions between mother and child.

This means that creating and nurturing a bond with your child strengthens the relationship between the two of you, and should ease your worries about daycare dismantling what you've built. To foster that bond with your child, Psych Central suggested various ways to create a secure attachment with your child that will make all the difference in the long run. Showing affection, responding when your baby is distressed, and keeping a predictable routine are just a few of the ways you can feel confident that the relationship between you and your child is meaningful and connective.

Understanding how parent-child connections are formed should offer some hope for those parents fretting over starting their child in daycare. Instead of focusing on the possible negative outcomes, try staying focused on all they ways you can maximize your together time. Hopefully, spending quality time with your child, and knowing the facts about this common concern, will help both you and your child feel more confident about the transition to daycare.