Meeting your baby's basic needs can be more than enough work for any parent. After all, adhering to your baby's feeding and sleeping schedule alone is a more than full-time job. That said, it's still crucial to check in on your child's emotional development as well. Paying attention to the signs your baby has an avoidant attachment style may point to potential behavioral concerns, but there's always time to form a strong bond with your child.
To begin, it's important to understand the four infant-parent attachment styles. As explained in a 2004 piece from the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, attachment theory recognizes four types of attachment: secure, avoidant, resistant, and disorganized. As you might guess, the secure form of attachment is characterized by a sensitive, loving quality of caregiving. On the other hand, the latter three types of attachment are characterized by insecurity. Although each of the types could command an entire book's worth of material, the focus now is on the avoidant style.
Children with an avoidant attachment style tend to refrain from crying or other outward expressions of emotion, as noted by PsychAlive. In babies, for instance, an avoidant attachment style may show up in the form of infants who actively resist contact with a parent, as further explained by PsycheAlive. Basically, these children learn to act as though they don't have any emotional needs, and they may display signs of independence from a very young age, as noted by Psychology Today. Although self-reliance and emotional stability are both worthwhile traits, young children do require a strong emotional connection with caregivers.
With that said, most parents are doing their best to raise happy, healthy kids. Even if your little one does seem to show the budding signs of an avoidant attachment style, you can review these tips for building a strong emotional bond with your child. And as always, if something about your child's behavior is especially concerning, don't hesitate to bring it up with your pediatrician.
1. Pay Attention To Your Baby
Simply spending time with your baby can do a lot for your bond. As noted in Parenting, paying close attention to your baby's expressions, responses, and moods can strengthen your bond. Maybe you two have the same taste in dessert foods.
Granted, it will be a while before your baby can hold a real conversation. But according to Baby Center, by looking into your baby's eyes while you talk or sing, you can help establish strong communication from the get-go. Plus, it's actually pretty fun to narrate all the actions and feelings of your day.
3. Accept Your Child's Current Dependence
Sure, it would be nice if kids could more or less get their act together before preschool. Unfortunately, your little one is pretty dependent on you for the next 18 years or so. Until then, you're in for a lot of teachable moments.
4. Address Negativity From Your Own Childhood
If you had a crappy childhood, and you're worried about repeating the same mistakes with your kid, then find someone to talk to ASAP. A trusted friend, relative, or counselor can help you make sense of the past and ensure a better future for your own kid. And, for what it's worth, you'll probably feel better, too.
5. Make Skin-To-Skin Contact
Sometimes bonding time can be as simple as a loving hug. As noted by WebMD, making skin-to-skin contact with your baby may help you both feel closer. You'll probably fall a little more in love with your baby with every cuddle.
6. Use Facial Cues
Not all communication is verbal. Simply making facial expressions for your baby to imitate is a great way to bond, as noted by KidsHealth. How silly can you get?
7. Practice Tummy Time
Your baby can work out arm muscles and feel closer to you at the same time. As noted in Babble, tummy time helps your baby learn that you'll keep her safe and sound, even when she's facing the world in a totally new way. What's more, most babies enjoy tummy time as a part of their regular play routine.