Feeding and Attachment
While the importance of what we feed our children cannot be underestimated, from an attachment perspective it is how we feed them that is most important. Each feeding is a moment that can easily be overlooked, but these moments of loving interaction string together to form the basis of a lifetime of security.
Too often the focus is on what we feed. From both a physiological and psychological perspective breastfeeding is the optimal choice for babies. Breastfeeding encourages close contact, skin to skin touch and smell, eye contact and closeness. Oxytocin (hormones) flow freely and inhibits the negative impact of stress.
A mother that cannot breastfeed can still evoke the warmth and responsiveness implicit in a healthy breastfeeding relationship.
This involves the following:
· Establish yourself as the primary feeder. Do not assume anyone can do the feeding. Baby needs this time with you.
· Look at your baby while feeding.
· Feed your baby with skin to skin contact whenever possible – allowing your baby to smell your skin activates the basic attachment system and allows oxytocin levels to increase.
· Feed your baby on demand not on a schedule. Responding to his signals of need will fortify his sense of well being and strengthen his trust in you.
· Be aware of potential distress when a baby must wait for a feed due to preparation time. If possible hold your baby and provide cuddles.
It is in the everyday relationship that attachment is formed.