How to help your baby feel secure

As we discussed in my last article, secure attachment enables your baby to grow learn and thrive in every area of their life including close relationships.  So let’s focus on how you can enable your baby to develop this “secure attachment”.

Dr John Bowlby was asked by the World Health Organization to define what facilitates healthy, resilient children who thrive in all areas of their lives.  He surveyed top professionals worldwide, across a range of health disciplines, and came up with this statement: “A first three years of unbroken mutually enjoyable relationship with the primary attachment figure”.

 Let’s break that down:

(1) We are focusing here on motherhood and infancy so that covers the first three years

(2) Unbroken suggests things like separations that may occur due to illness or hospitalizations which are not usual.

(3) Mutual enjoyment; let’s talk about that!

 Finding ways to enjoy being with your baby as much as you can be, really being the KEY to your baby developing a secure attachment to you.  As a new mum, this can be challenging.  Some new mums tell me they feel anxious or worried whilst others say they feel distant or unable to connect with their baby.  Some new mums can identify what these feelings originate, for instance in their own relationship with their parents, but others have no idea why they are feeling this way.  Either way, feeling anxious or distant or any other negative feeling like frustration or guilt can get in the way of enjoying the experience of being with your baby right now, moment to moment.

Understanding that you are not alone in these feelings and that many other mums experience these feelings too, is really important.  Also, give yourself permission to feel what you’re feeling and if possible try to share these feelings with your partner or a trusted friend – get support from other relationships where you feel safe and valued.  Some mums tell me they find journaling their feelings really helpful in working out where they come from.  Journaling is a useful tool and it’s like therapeutic time alone with yourself.  The more you take care of yourself and your own feelings, the better you will feel in your SELF, in your own skin.  This “feel good state” will flow through to your baby.  Your baby will respond to you. If you’re feeling ok your baby will feel ok.  You will be able to focus more on the enjoyable feelings and interactions with your baby and maximise the bonding and attachment experience between you.

Another tip is to focus on being in the moment, right here, right now with your baby.  Tell yourself there is nowhere else you need to be and nothing else you need to do that is more important than being here with you precious baby right now.  Give yourself permission to enjoy this time with your baby.

The key takeaway message from this article is:

  • Maximise the positive moments and feelings – try to repeat them as often as you can.
  • Acknowledge negative feelings that you experience. Journaling and sharing your feelings will help you bounce back. 
  • Give yourself permission to be in the moment. Be creative in finding ways to take care of yourself!! Remember if you are feeling ok, baby will feel ok too.