Forget Breastfeeding, Focus On Attachment The need for close physical contact is more important for the development of a child

Yes, breastfeeding is important. However, attachment to another human being is crucial for the emotional and physical health of a child. Erroneously the focus is on the physical aspect of feeding without understanding the emotional aspect of breastfeeding.

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Image Source: Pixabay

Most mother’s today have to return back to work after a brief 3 months maternity leave.  They plan on how to continue giving their child nature’s goodness. Instead, they should focus on attachment and who will be feeding the little one.

Attachment And Your Baby

According to Jean Liedloff, author of the Continuum Concept in order to achieve optimal physical, mental and emotional development, human beings must be held, cuddled and held close as babies. In short, they must be securely attached to another human being, though not necessarily it need be the biological mother.

Professor Allan Schore author of Affect Regulation and the Origin of the Self has been a pioneer in the study of child development. His research on the relationship between secure attachment and its effect on brain development has shown that feeling bonded with one’s mother is the cornerstone of mental-well-being. A child’s brain develops best only when there is constant and positive interaction with its primary caregiver.

Moreover, recent studies have shown that attachment is also critical for the physical health of a child. Individuals who were insecurely attached at both were four times more likely to report physical illnesses at age 32 than those who were continuously secure early in life. Insecure attachment puts one at risk for developing chronic illnesses like recurrent ear infections, asthma, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, failure to thrive, congenital heart disease.

Children Need Caring Adults

In his book, When the Body Says No: Exploring the Stress–Disease Connection, Dr. Gabor Maté summarizes the effects of childhood trauma and adversity on later health problems. He asks his patients this very pertinent question When, as a child, you felt sad, upset or angry, was there anyone you could talk to – even when he or she was the one who had triggered your negative emotions? 

And according to him in all the years of clinical practice, including a decade of palliative work, he has never heard anyone with cancer or with any chronic illness or condition say yes to that question.

Good Enough Caring

Dr. Donald Winnicott coined the term good-enough parent. He noted that children actually benefit from mothers who fail their children sometimes.  Good enough parents do not strive to be perfect parents and do not expect perfection from their children

Hence working mothers dependent on child care facilities need to check out whether carers are good enough. Whether they respond appropriately when a child is hungry, hurt or sick. Carers need not be hovering around constantly but have to be attuned and love taking care of kids. As parents, you need to accord the person caring for your child respect and love. Remember, all relationships should have equal serve and return or else one of the parties will end up feeling exploited. You definitely don’t want your precious baby in the hands of a disgruntled person. They need someone with whom they feel loved and safe. Secure attachment is necessary for the long-term development of human being.

Further Reading

Chronic Illness and Invisible Trauma (When Your ACE Score is 0)

Early Trauma Increases Asthma (and Other Chronic Illness)

Books

Child The Family And The Outside World by Donald  Winnicott

Don’t Try This Alone: The Silent Epidemic of Attachment Disorder by Kathy Brous

2 thoughts on “Forget Breastfeeding, Focus On Attachment The need for close physical contact is more important for the development of a child

  1. The good enough parent – yes, that’s an encouraging thought for all those who are parents these days. And as Daniel Siegel states, it’s not about making mistakes (and we all make them), it’s about repair. Nice summary and I love your references – Gabor Mate’s book is one of my favorites. And thanks for linking to mine!

    1. Thanks, Veronique
      I feel it is time we give due importance to child-care and people caring for children. Mothers, day-care workers, nannies, etc. Because critical periods of development happen in the first 2 years of a child’s life. It is important that the carers are aware and attuned to our little ones.

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