Key Messages about Attachment and Bonding

Bonding and attachment are different. Bonding is the binding love that a parent may feel for their infant, beginning even before he or she is born. The process of bonding refers to the intense emotional connection that the parent feels for the baby. Some parents feel this straight away and others take time to get to know their baby.

Attachment refers to the enduring ‘tie’ of affection that the baby develops towards their main carers, usually their parents. John Bowlby, a British doctor, first described how the security of the attachment that an infant makes with their parents becomes the foundation for emotional wellbeing.

  • Attachment is a process that takes place over time
  • If bonding does not happen in the first few weeks, it does not mean that it will never happen
  • A secure attachment is associated with a positive parenting style
  • The three main ingredients of a secure attachment are:
  1. Appropriate physical contact
  2. Emotional connection
  3. Safe, secure, reliable and consistent environment

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