What are Attachment Behaviors in Babies?

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Attachment behaviors are when babies and toddlers try to get comfort and protection from the people they feel attached to. This can be by smiling and cooing, crawling and following, holding out their arms, crying and many other signals that parents and caretakers learn to know.

When the child gets an appropriate response, such as eye contact, a smile, a touch or a quick cuddle, and feels safe, the child is free to relax, play, explore and learn again.

If the response is not sensitive to the baby’s needs, for example if the baby feels ignored or punished, the baby continues to feel anxious or afraid and continues the attachment behavior. So, for example, if the parent thinks a toddler should be brave and urges her to leave the safety of being close before she is ready, the child is likely to respond by feeling more afraid and clinging more. Some babies or toddlers who are very afraid eventually give up trying.

Helping children to feel safe first is the best way to encourage them to be brave.