Mother, Baby and Safe Attachment

Mother, Baby and Safe Attachment

Attachment is a natural need, and we all unwittingly develop this emotional bond with our primary caregiver, especially from birth to age two.
After that we have now formed a binding figure. Although usually a mother, she can also be a caregiver for a different family member or caregiver who actually cares.
The extent to which this figure meets the needs of the baby determines the style of attachment. (Bowlby, 1969)
Considering that our attachment style determines our relationship with friends and especially our romantic partners in the future, we can say that these first two years have a critical importance on our personality (Scharfe & Bartholomew, 1994).

What is Attachment Theory?

Attachment Theory is the theory that connects the baby and the caregiver, especially in the first two years of life.
This theory was put forward by John Bowlby (1958) and argues that the mother's response to the physical and emotional needs of the baby is the main factor that enables attachment.
The theory is developed “Strange Situation” Mary Ainsworth (1978). This experiment was conducted in a structured laboratory environment based on maternal and infant observation and provided an analysis of 3 basic attachment styles.
Then, with the work of Main and Solomon (1986), the 4th attachment style was added to the literature.

Strange Situation Test

Ainsworth (1978) devised an experimental set-up called Strange Situation to describe attachment styles, and its main purpose was to observe the baby's reactions when the mother left the room and the mother came back.
In the Strange Situation experiment, the laboratory is designed as a hall and toys are placed in it to attract the attention of the baby. The purpose of this is to measure how much the baby explores the outside world in the presence and absence of the mother. The baby's responses are then observed in different combinations as follows.

  • Mother with baby alone
  • A stranger arrives with mother and baby
  • When the mother leaves and leaves the stranger alone with the baby
  • Leaving the stranger, leaving the baby alone
  • When the mother comes again

Attachment Styles

Safe connecting babiesIt was found that while the mother was in the room, she could easily explore the environment and even interact with her when the stranger came.
However, these babies became uneasy when the mother left the room, and even often cried and followed her towards the door after the mother. When the mother arrived she was happy and calmed down in a short time.
Insecure and avoiding attachment it is observed that the baby is not very eager to discover and in general the presence or absence of the mother does not make much difference to the baby.
The baby usually remains unresponsive at the mother's return. The third style is in anxious and conflicting attachmentas in insecure attachment, there was little tendency to explore.
However, unlike insecure attachment, the baby showed anger to the mother instead of being unresponsive when the mother arrived, and did not calm down easily. He seems angry with the mother for abandoning him, and in addition, the presence of the stranger makes him very uneasy.

The fourth style that I added later is irregular attachment. Irregular connection anxiety and mayhem dominate the baby. It will show the characteristics of avoided and anxious attachment as mixed. (Main & Solomon, 1986)

These four attachment styles have been shown to affect the individual's approach to close relationships in the future (Scharfe & Bartholomew, 1994).

For securely fastened babies the mother has been a safe base for recognizing the world, and when these babies grow up, they become individuals with high self-worth and positive attitudes towards the world.

Insecure ones, As they will be known, they turn into individuals who do not trust the world, prefer loneliness, find relationships unnecessary, uninterested and indifferent.

Worried connecting It was observed that babies are adults with low self-esteem, continuous self-criticism, need for approval from others and weak individuality.

Irregular bonding, It is seen in children who have been subjected to trauma such as violence and neglect during the attachment process. As a result, individuals begin to isolate themselves from their emotions from early childhood. As soon as they feel the emotional intimacy in adulthood, they move away from those relationships. Many also have personality disorders.

As I mentioned earlier, it is very decisive in how attachment the mother meets the needs of the baby.

  • Precision and responsive mom'screates a secure environment and promotes healthy attachment. When it comes to how secure attachment occurs, what is important is how much the needs are answered and how the baby is understood.
  • Parents avoiding attachment when it does not meet the needs and when emotionally cold emerges. Therefore, the baby learns that their needs are not met when necessary and becomes indifferent to the mother. It is for this reason that the presence of the mother does not make a difference in babies who are insecure in the Strange Situation Experiment.
  • Your mother's inconsistent In other cases, the baby develops an anxious attachment style when he / she sometimes meets the needs of the baby and sometimes does not. He is not indifferent to the mother as in insecure attachment, but is usually angry and resentful towards the mother.
  • As I mentioned, the last style is, neglect and abusecauses traumatic effect on individuals.

However, when evaluating these four attachment styles, it should be noted that a laboratory environment and a special situation are created. That is, observing your baby's behavior when you go to a different room in the house, or when you go into hospitality, is not a way to determine the attachment style. (Ainsworth, M. D., Blehar M. C., Waters, E. & Wall, S., 1978)

The formation of a secure attachment style depends on the mother's ability to meet the needs of the baby continuously.
But here it is very important to distinguish the concept of attachment and dependence. As Bowlby (1969) touched upon, dependence means needing someone to survive.
Although this is true for a newborn baby, it is a problem that the child is not autonomous when the appropriate age range is reached. However, attachment will always remain a need.
Therefore, dependence with connect should never be considered equivalent. While strengthening the bond between them, it is an important difference not to train dependent individuals.

There's no need to be perfect parents to ensure secure connectivity.
Winnicott's (1971) term anne being a good enough mother cak will set things right. So much so that listening to your instincts will often lead the mother because there is a genetic harmony between the baby and the mother.

An example of this is the studies on crying. For example, it is observed that there is more activation against baby crying in certain brain regions of parents compared to women and men without children (Witteman et al., 2019).
It has even been concluded that some of these regions are responsible for planning and carrying out motor movements and, accordingly, the parent to react.
Another study showed that the brain focuses only on crying by deactivating some regions (Seifritz et al., 2003). In babies, it was observed that the mother's voice increased activation in the brain. (Abrams et al., 2016)

While meeting the baby's physical needs is effective for both survival and attachment processes, processes that reinforce emotional intimacy, such as sensual contact, heat of the skin, and pheromones emitted by the mother, are of particular importance.

In 1958, Harry F. Harlow published his experiments based on his experiments, revealing the importance of these shares.
Harlow runs his work with baby monkeys and sets up two mother monkey-like devices to stand side by side with the monkeys. One device consists entirely of wires, but contains a bottle for the monkey to drink milk, and one device consists only of feathers and gives heat.
In the experiment, it is seen that the baby monkey goes to the bottle as soon as it enters the cage, but after taking a few sips of milk, he immediately goes to the furry arrangement and hugs. Then he repeats it a few more times and stays in the last hairy device.
When Harlow calculates the monkey's total time spent in the devices, he sees that the baby monkey is not in a big difference, but in a furry and warm mother.

So there are many ties between the mother and the baby ready to make things easier. As long as the mother chooses to adapt, let the baby be there when she needs it and listen to a little drink.

Moreover, if there are mothers who think that they cannot do this, and say that I am late for secure attachment, they should never forget that they are never late. Luckily, the brain has neuroplasticity; that is, it can constantly develop new neural bonds and the old neural bonds may lose their strength.
Although it is more sensitive in early childhood, it is a feature we always have.

Then we can say that children and babies, including us, always have the chance to get out of bad experiences and get better and be happy. Providing an environment where the baby is loved and meeting the needs will be the key methods.
Thus, a secure, strong bond will form between you and will last for a lifetime.

Referance list

Abramsa, DA, Chena, T., Odriozolaa, P., Chenga, KM, Bakera, AE, Padmanabhana, A., Ryalia, S., Kochalkaa, J., Feinsteina, C. & Menon, V. (2016) Neural circuits PNAS, 22, 6295-6300.

Ainsworth, M. D., Blehar M. C., Waters, E. & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange situation. New York, NY: Psychology Press

Bowlby, J. (1958). The nature of the child's tie to his mother. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 39, 350-373.

Bowlby, J. (1969) The attachment and loss. New York City, NY: Basic Books

Harlow, H. F. (1958). The nature of love.American Psychologist, 13 (12), 673-685.

Main, M., & Solomon, J. (1986). Discovery of a new, insecure-disorganized / disoriented attachment pattern. In Duschinsky, R. (2015). The emergence of the disorganized / disoriented (D) attachment classification, 1979-1982. History of Psychology, 18, 32-46

Scharfe, E., & Bartholomew, K. (1994) Reliability and stability of adult attachment patterns. Personal Relationships, 1, 23-43.

Seifritz, E., Esposito, F., Neuhoff, JG, Luti, A., Mustovic, H., Dammann, G., von Bardeleben, U., Radue, EW, Cirillo, S., Tedeschi, G. & amp; Salle, F. (2003). Differential sex-independent amygdala response to infant crying and laughing in parents versus nonparents. Society of Biological Psychiatry, 54, 1367-1375.

Winnicott, D.W., (1971) Playing and reality. London: Tavistock Publications Ltd

Witteman, J., Van IJendoendo, M. H., Rilling, J. K., Bos, P. A., Schiller, N. A., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J. (2019) Towards a neural model of infant cry perception. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 99, 23-32.

Psychologist Maide Çelikarslan