Bonding & Attachment

You felt your baby kick, prepared your baby’s room and imagined how life would be with a new little person in it – even before your child was born, the bonding process was happening. Your newborn already recognised your smell, knew your voice and found comfort in your warmth and the rhythm of your heart. Bonding between mother and child happens instinctively, but an emotional attachment only develops over time as you slowly get to know each other and start forming a close relationship.

Secure vs. insecure attachment
The nature of attachment between you and your little one will make a lifelong difference to their experience of the world. If you respond consistently to your toddler’s needs, have firm but fair boundaries and take pleasure in their company, they’ll grow up feeling secure and loved. Neglect and constant criticism will result in an insecure child who distrusts others and believes they are essentially unlovable.

What strengthens attachment?
Spending one-on-one time with your toddler is the best way to get to know each other. Your little one’s desire to be close to you 24/7 confirms that you’re their favourite person in the whole world – their “go-to” person when all is not well. Hug your toddler, say “I love you” and tell them you believe in them. Knowing that they’re your priority will give them the confidence to venture forth without you.

There are a host of fun bonding activities for parents and child that you can do with your toddler to bring you closer. Music and dance are creative and relaxing ways of expressing yourselves. Exercising together is energising and encourages healthy habits. You can find some fun game ideas in our Games and Activities for Toddlers.

Rituals such as family mealtimes or picnics in the park provide a sense of anticipation. Reading a bedtime story is ideal for cuddling up and can be part of a soothing bedtime ritual .

Being aware of your little one’s natural temperament helps you to figure out how best to support them. Parenting a moody toddler requires more patience than an easygoing child. Be sensitive to your shy child’s need for quiet time or your sociable toddler’s need for stimulation. When your little one feels that you truly understand them, their self-esteem will blossom.