In Uganda, babies are carried in a sling next to the mother’s breast daily. No diapers were used and, since the infants were always clean, Jean Mckellar, an American mother who observed newborn Ugandan babies, asked the mothers how they managed bowel and bladder movement. “We just go to the bushes,” answer the mothers. However, how, Jean asked, do you know when a tiny infant need to go to the bushes? The astonished mother replied: “But how do you know when you have to go to the bushes?” (par 1). In Guatemala, mothers also carry their new infants in that manner…. Colin Turnbull, in the book The Forest People, tells how the mothers anticipates the infant’s needs and responds before the infant gives any detectable signs of being in need. And in that statement lies the heart of the issue of bonding” (par 2), wrote Joseph Chilton Pearce, author of “Bonding of Mother & Child vs. Attachment” and Magical Child.
The bonding between mother and child occur in the prenatal time of the baby’s life. According to Pearce, “Bonding begins between mother and infant in utero. By birth, these bonds are well established, but they must then be confirmed and reestablished after delivery, to integrate the new psyche into its new surrounding…” (par 12). Doing this is the first step in putting your child on the road to a healthy child development. According to Development Psychologist Anthony DeCasper, “learning and memory occurs in the womb” also (qtd. in Pekkanen 24). Consequently, it makes sense that bonding would start in the womb too. Pearce further asserts that, “All bonding must be established before it is needed and confirmed at the time of need” (par 12); which has now proven to be a critical part of proper child development.
It is very important that a child bond with parents. This will help a child to build trust in his adult life. According to Dr. Alice Sterling Honig, author of “20 ways to Boost Your Baby’s Brain Power,” you should “Build trust by being attentive and focused. Babies who are securely attached to you emotionally will be able to invest more life energy in the pleasure of exploration, learning, and discovery” (46). In addition, a child need to bond with parents because this is how a child “develops that the world is a safe place to be, that people are reliable and loving (Erikson). This is why bonding is so important during infancy. For the child also learn to “trust his or her own [growing] body and biological urges that goes with it” (Erickson). An infant need to bond with both parents because the more people the child bond with the more trusting and secure that child feel when growing up. It also, build confident and independency in the child during his or her development years.
Contrary to what government officially would like us to believe, giving your baby a bottle instead of your breast does not stop bonding between mother and child. According to MD Larissa Hirsch “… mothers who are unable to breastfeed or who decide not to, infant formula is a good alternative…. if you feed your baby with a commercially prepared formula, be assured that your baby’s nutritional needs will be met. And you’ll still bond with your baby just fine” (par 4). It is not what you feed your baby, but rather how you feed your baby. Holding your baby close, touching and caressing him or her is what forms the bond between child and mother. This in turn secures the new found bond that the mother and child have developed during pregnancy and after birth. In addition, how you interact with your child during feeding bath and diaper chance may also help him or her to further develop a trusting and confident personality. According to Mary M Alward, author of “The Importance of Bonding with your Child,” “Bonding develops through interaction. Breastfeeding, or [bottle feeding], reading to your child or any activity where you spend one-on-one quality time with your child turns into a bonding experience….” (par 12).
The price a child pays when the parent do not allow proper bonding to take place is too great. Consequently, “If the parents are unreliable and inadequate, if they reject the infant or harm it, if other interests cause both parents to turn away from the infants needs to satisfy their own instead, then the infant will develop mistrust. He or she will be apprehensive and suspicious around people” (Erikson). This development of mistrust at an early age may affect the child’s relationships as an adult. This sometime manifests itself as jealousy. Jealousy is known to be dangerous and damaging to most relationships. According to Alward, “it has been found that the lack of bonding in infant can have a life lasting effect on a child. Infants who don’t bond are more likely to become anxious and insecure” (par 6). With these facts a parent should work harder to make sure that their baby’s developmental years are filled with love and security. For this simple act of nurture can make for successful teenage years and maybe adult. Alward further assert that “if there is no motherly bonding what so ever with a child the result is a profound negative effect” (par 7).
In addition, Alward, further asserted that, “researchers have found out that “Cortisol a stress related hormone that is regulated by the pituitary adrenal system inhibit the body’s reaction to stress by suppressing the immune system. Touch is crucial to the regulation of the stress-response system. It can affect a child motor skill and memory. During the average day the typical child’s cortisol level peaks in the morning and decreases in the evening. In children with no parental bonding … the cortisol level continue to increase during the morning and only decrease slightly by evening (par 8). Studies have found that children.... lacking a secure bond are more likely to be antisocial, withdrawn, hostile and aggressive” (par 11).
To the contrary, the need for a child to bond to his parents is underrated today. Although much has been written on the importance of bonding, parents today still harbor the false notion that, you can spoil a baby the first year or so of its life. For example, during a lecture in my Human Growth and Development class, my professor Eric Brown asked the question, “Can a child be spoiled in the first twelve months of its’ life?” (9 Feb.09) More than half of the class believed that a child can be spoiled in its first year of life; however, this is far from the truth. You cannot spoil a child in its first year of life. The concept of “spoiled child” comes from parents who think that if you do not let your child cry, or constantly attend to the child every need when it’s an infant, the child will become spoiled. However, this is one of these old myths that do more harm than good. This myth causes parent to miss out on the most crucial moment in their child’s life. Bonding with your child will define who and what your child becomes in life. As Dr. Alice Sterling Honig further asserts, “Respond promptly when your baby cries. Soothe nurture, cuddle, and reassure him so that you build positive brain circuitry in the limbic area of the brain, which relates to emotions. Your calm holding and cuddling, and your day-to-day intimate engagement with your baby, signal emotional security to the brain” (46).
A baby knows nothing on the day of birth, but what we show and teach them. I guess you could think of your child as a clean canvas awaiting your artistic creation to show on it. What we put on this canvas will be what it reflects. If you draw war and destruction then that’s all your canvas will reflect. Same thing goes for a child. What you show and teach your child from birth on is what it will reflect. Therefore, start out with a positive reflection such as, cuddling, caressing and interaction, for this will give your child the proper head start he or she needs for child development.
Alward, Mary M. “The Improtamce od Bonding with Your Child.” Suite101 Reference Pages. 18 July, 2003. 3 March 2008 <htyp://www.suite101.com/print_article.cfm/Canadian_health/100339>.
Brown, Eric. Lecture. Springfield Technical Community College. Springfield MA. 9 Feb. 2009
Erikson, Erik. “Personality Theories” Class Hand out. 1902-1994. 2 Feb. 2008 <http://webspace.ship.edu/cgboer.erikson.html>.
Hirsch, Lsrissa. “Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding.” Kids Health Reference Pages. Nov. 2008. 3 March 2009, <http://Kidshealth.orge/parent/growth/feeding/breast_bottle_feeding.html>.
Honig Sterling, Alice. “20 Ways to Boost Your Baby’s Brain Power.” Annual Editions Human Development 09/10. 37th ed. Ed. Karen L. Freiberg. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009: 46-47.
Pearece Chilton, Joseph. “Bonding of Mothers & Child vs. Attachment.” InnerSelf Reference Pages. 20 March 2008. 3 March 2009 <http://innerself.com/html/parenting/attitudes/bonding-of-mother-and-child-vs-attachment>.
Pekkanene, John. “The Mystery of Fetal Life: Secrets of the Womb.” Annual Editions Human Development 09/10. 37th ed. Ed. Karen L. Freiberg. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009:19-25.