When to Seek Support for the Attachment Relationship

There may be times when you may have questions about your baby’s developing attachment or social-emotional development. If you have concerns, it may be helpful to talk with your pediatrician, a trusted early childhood educator, or a mental health provider who specializes in working with infants and young children. These individuals may be able to offer you support, education, information, psychotherapy, or referrals to community resources. Oftentimes, challenges to the attachment relationship can be greatly helped by getting the help needed for both you and your young child.
You may want to seek support if you notice or are aware of any of the following:
If your baby:

  • Does not appear to respond to you when being held
  • Does not make eye contact or, at appropriate ages, smile in response to your efforts at “back-and-forth” communication
  • Does not seem to show interest in people’s faces or voices
  • Shows little or no interest in exploring the environment
  • Appears to show little or no preference towards any adult caregiver

If your toddler:

  • Persistently resists or fears exploring new environments
  • Persistently and intensely fears leaving parents
  • Displays little or no fear or awareness of danger

If you:

  • Have a hard time knowing if your baby is hungry, tired, in need of attention, or sleepy
  • Have questions about parenting or are worried about creating a relationship with your baby, especially if you grew up in a family where parenting was handled differently than how you would like to parent
  • Often feel tired, sad, overwhelmed, or worried, and these feelings do not go away or improve
  • Do not enjoy spending time with your baby
  • Have an untreated mental health issue, such as depression, bipolar disorder, or anxiety disorder. Taking good care of yourself is one of the cornerstones for a healthy and secure attachment relationship.
  • Have a history of abuse or neglect. With parenting, memories or unresolved trauma may resurface. This can impact the developing attachment relationship. If you have suffered abuse as a child, it is important to find yourself a caring, nurturing, supportive environment so that you may begin or continue to work through the issues related to your history.

Links & Resources »

Bowlby, John (1956) “The growth of independence in the young child.” Royal Society of Health Journal, 76, 587-591.

Bowlby, John (1988) A Secure Base: Parent-Child Attachment and Healthy Human Development. London: Routledge.

Lieberman, Alicia (1993) The Emotional Life of the Toddler. New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc.