Now, Science Says You’ve Got to Hold Your Baby
In a new scientific study by the University of British Columbia and BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute, scientists found that a process called DNA methylation showed differences between low-physical-contact children and high-physical-contact children. This study followed 100 infants over four years.
This is a big win for the attachment parenting community. Attachment parenting is the philosophy that promotes the attachment of parents to their infants to increase parental empathy and responsiveness. Often, in early childhood, attachment parenting has shown to increase nurturing for babies and young children.
Now, with this study, we know that there’s an actual DNA process that is affected by physical touch. This is consistent with observations from other scientific studies where developmental delays were observed when low-physical-contact children were deprived of normal sensory stimulation.
There are nuances of attachment parenting that yield the greatest benefits. Here are a few notable ones.
There are many types of attachment in parent-children relationships. Most notable are the insecure attachment styles such as disorganized/disoriented, anxious-ambivalent, and anxious-avoidant.
This is why secure attachment is the most important in promoting both mental health, developmental health and physical health of children at a young age.
A secure attachment means:
- safety and security
- ability to regulate emotions
- ability to detach when appropriate from caretaker
The sign of a securely attached child is one who:
- can play independently
- shows warmth when caretaker appears
- shows distress when caretaker leaves, but recovers
- able to regulate emotions with or without help from caretaker
- shows joy and security in play
Attachment Parenting is More About Bonding
Attachment parenting in early childhood does not mean velcro-ing your baby to you at all times. It means a well-balanced approach to holding your baby, giving your baby space, and enabling your baby to explore.
Attachment parenting focuses on creating a bond between you and that child. This means that it’s more about attunement into your child’s needs, understanding, and fulfilling when appropriate your child’s needs.
There are many ways to create this parent/child bond:
- skin-to-skin contact while holding the baby
- talking to the baby
- engaging in activities with the baby
As your baby grows, the number one bonding trick should always be to create joy within the family unit so that the parent/child bond can be maintained.
Attachment parenting is More About Joy and Trust
Attachment parenting is more about establishing trust in early childhood. Then, using joyful bonding activities to increase that trust as the child ages.
Trust can be established in many ways.
One of the best ways to establish trust with your child is simply to facilitate exploration and curiosity in the child.
- take your child out for activities and adventures
- let your child have freedom in a safe environment
- establish a schedule for your child so that your child can be well-rested
- teach your child social skills
- teach your child what it means to have had healthy boundaries
- teach your child to identify and regulate emotions
- teach your child coping skills
- empower your child by reciprocating understanding
If you are a new parent, then understand that attachment parenting is all about bonding. You are the one who is defining how you want your relationship with your child to go.
The first step with your baby is to enable enough sensory experiences to promote healthy development in your baby.
Then, it’s all about establishing trust and keeping that trust going over the years.
Start by holding that baby, then you will know what to do with the rest.