This week my focus will be on attachment. I will describe in simple text what this means and the importance of it for your child.
Attachment – Pre-birth
Babies are totally dependent on those who care for them to keep them safe therefore they need to make attachments to survive.
Attachment can be described as a special kind of relationship between a baby and his/her primary carers. Each person in this relationship experiences emotional ties to the other and develops an ‘internal working model’ which means the way they behave with one another. This internal working model then influences a child’s behaviour and relationships with other people for the rest of their life. It also lays down the foundations for them to feel safe and secure.
Your baby’s needs are met by forming a close relationship with you. Before your baby is even born people are developing a relationship with it, or BONDING.
Bonding before birth
Your baby can hear you from at least 16 weeks, and perhaps earlier.
Babies hear their mother’s voices most clearly, but anyone can talk and sing to them – your baby will love to hear from anyone.
This helps your baby:
- to get to know voices, which will help them feel safe and secure
- tune their hearing and get ready for when they will eventually talk
Talking and singing to your baby is also good for their development.
- Find a quiet time when you and your baby can focus on each other and use a tuneful, sing-song voice.
- It doesn’t matter what you say it’s about the sing-song voice you use. Babies, even when they are born, can’t pick up adult speech patterns but can tune into the rhythm of your voice. This is why we talk in a sing-song way to babies. Don’t be self-conscious about it, you are helping your child’s development.
- Try singing to your bump, it doesn’t matter what music or song – if you like it, so will your baby. (never put headphones on your tummy though, as it’s too loud for your baby.)
- If you feel a bit silly talking to the bump, don’t worry – lots of people do. If you can’t think of anything to say, just chat about the day or share a story.
When you give your baby responsive care and lots of attention, it will help them manage their feelings and have safe and healthy relationships in the future.
Babies need their carers close at all times. Staying close to your baby will help you notice when they’re trying to communicate with you.
Remember you can’t spoil a baby, no matter what people try to tell you. Now, toddlers, they’re a different matter but we will come on to them later. But a baby needs YOU. This is how it works in simple terms.
- Baby has a need, it may be hungry, tired, uncomfortable and need to move positions, be bored and need interaction. You will soon learn what those different cries mean.
- Baby lets you know he has a need, the only way he can at the moment by crying.
- An adult responds to the baby, usually verbally as well as physically. You may pick him up and often tell him why he is crying. You say “you’re tired” or “you must be hungry” by doing this you are acknowledging the baby’s feelings, letting him know you understand him and that you are going to help to meet his needs.
- You then feed him, cuddle him, change his nappy or whatever you think he needs. Sometimes you have to try everything as you are still learning too.
This pattern repeats and repeats for weeks and months to come. But if the pattern your baby learns is consistent, like steps 1 to 4 above, he will learn that he doesn’t have to cry so urgently, he will trust that you will be there to help him and you will notice that his cry changes. This takes about 6-8 weeks from birth. You have probably all noticed a can recognise a new born cry and that it is different to an older baby.
5 Cries of a Newborn Baby
- Neh – The “neh” sound means “I’m hungry”. As a baby’s sucking reflex kicks in and the tongue is pushed to the roof of the mouth the sound that comes out is a “neh” sound.
- Owh – The “owh” sound is made in the reflex of a yawn which means, “I’m sleepy”.
- Heh – the “heh” sounds (similar to “neh” so be careful that you hear the beginning /h/ sound) means discomfort. This particular of the newborn cries is to let you know that the baby is uncomfortable – cold, itchy, need a clean nappy, need a new position in which to lie, etc.
- Eair – The “eair” sound means lower gas. It’s a deeper sound that comes from the abdomen. It is a bit more difficult to distinguish than the rest but is usually accompanied by a newborn pulling his/her knees up or pushing down and out with his/her legs. Baby’s body, not only his/her face, will look uncomfortable.
- Eh – The “eh” sound means that a baby needs to burp. It is similar, again, to “neh” and “heh” but remember that you are listening for those beginning sounds, not the ending sounds. When you hear, “Eh, ehhhhh” your newborn is telling you “wind me, please”.