Infants are aware of their surroundings and begin to interact from the moment of birth. They begin to experience the world through their senses and are dependent on caretakers to identify needs and nurture their survival.
Infant and toddler psychotherapy is a growing area of specialization focused on strengthening the relationship between parent and child.
Research in early childhood development has identified healthy parent-child bonding and attachment, over the first five years of life, as a protective factor, supporting children’s positive future emotional and psychological growth.
Bonding between parent and infant is a process that is “wired” to occur naturally, but difficulties or road blocks in the development of a strong attachment between parent and child can result from a variety of early factors, including:
- Post-partum complications or depression
- Infant health issues
- Developmental issues
- Disruptions in placement of young children
- Early trauma
Signs of a disrupted attachment in infants and young children may include:
- Poor eye contact with parent or caregiver
- Exaggerated startle response or appearing overly fearful
- Crying for long periods with difficulties being consoled, soothed or held
- Not responsive to surroundings or caretakers
- Significant difficulties with eating, sleeping and weight gain
- Parent reports feeling “unconnected” to child, or
- Parent reports feeling child is “not bonding” or seems “disengaged”