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Attachment in Practice – attachment in the making

A look at attachment in the making from 2 to 8 months including: Understanding the baby, developing preferences and emotional regulation.

Good for looking at

  • Gradually developing preferences
  • Synchronising responses
  • Regulation of emotions
  • 5 month old baby happy to be left with stranger
  • 6 month old baby with child minder
  • Reunion behaviour with mother
00:05
Hiya girl, you getting out then?
00:07
Here's Laila, who is 5 months old
00:09
with her Mother Jess.
00:12
shall we go downstairs and see Jamie?
00:13
During the next few months,
00:15
more complex patterns of interaction
00:17
with the carer will become established,
00:19
and the baby will beging to show preferences
00:21
for particular people as attachment starts to develop.
00:27
There are now lots of subtle signals that the baby uses.
00:30
There you go.
00:31
Mothers usually respond almost without thinking
00:34
synchronizing their response to the baby's signals.
00:37
Yeah.
00:39
Laila flaps her hands excitedly,
00:42
and Jess responds.
00:42
Oh, Oh, put your leg down,
00:46
put your leg down, there you go, that's it,
00:52
buttons, oh, oh.
00:56
Laila makes a noise and Jess acknowledges it.
01:01
Mm-mm, Ah-ha.
01:04
As if to say "I know what you mean."
01:06
Put your leg in,
01:08
a bit hard to get on these aren't these, a bit small.
01:16
There you go.
01:17
Laila grizzles and is unhappy
01:19
and Jess empathizes straight away.
01:23
Oh, what's wrong?
01:30
Oh Laila, Laila, what's the matter?
01:35
Nearly done, there you go, all done.
01:43
That better?
01:44
Put the nappy in the bin.
01:49
Oh what's the matter?
01:51
What's the matter eh?
01:53
The skill sensitive, responsive parents have
01:57
is something that you call mind mindedness, or mindfulness.
02:01
Some people call it reflective function.
02:03
And what it is is essentially the ability
02:06
to put yourself into the baby's head and work out
02:10
"What is he thinking, What is he saying?"
02:13
and so on.
02:16
Often, there are two kinds of signals, one is
02:20
"Calm me down, comfort me, soothe me.
02:22
"If I'm distressed I don't care what you do,
02:25
"whether you need to change me, whether you need to feed me,
02:28
"whether you need to burp me, but please do it
02:31
"and do it as quickly as you can, because I'm dying here."
02:35
Is in a sense what the baby I saying.
02:37
And once the baby is calm and alert,
02:41
and perhaps you know, not sleepy and just wanting to nod off
02:46
but ready to interact, that's what the baby's saying,
02:49
"Play with me, I want you to imitate me,
02:57
"I want you to stick your tongue out at me
02:59
"if I stick my tongue out at you,
03:08
And if you do, as a parent, babies love it,
03:11
they absolutely love it.
03:26
Whilst Jess is doing other things,
03:29
Laila watches her carefully,
03:36
because Jess has responded quickly and sensitively to her
03:40
Laila's learning what's called emotional regulation.
03:43
Instead of getting very distressed
03:45
and reacting immediately when something's wrong,
03:48
her past experience tells her that she can wait a bit.
03:52
She's learning that someone will come and comfort her
03:55
and sort things out.
03:57
Juice on the floor.
04:01
Jess is becoming the safe base
04:03
from where Laila will be able to explore the world.
04:08
At five months Laila is beginning to have a preference
04:11
for Jess, although she's still generally sociable
04:14
with other people.
04:15
How you doing?
04:17
And is happy to smile at them,
04:18
even at strangers.
04:22
Oh that's a nice smile.
04:25
That was a lovey smile.
04:31
Yes I'm pleased to see you as well.
04:34
She turns to Jess, for reassurance.
04:37
Although not yet fully attached to Jess,
04:39
her preference for her is obvious.
04:42
I'm just eating toast, yeah I am.
04:45
Good old Mam.
04:48
And when left with another stranger,
04:50
Laila is a bit wary,
04:54
but doesn't object to being picked up.
04:57
Pick up, yeah?
05:00
Do you want picking up?
05:01
Hello.
05:06
Oh, hiya, hiya.
05:12
Hello.
05:14
I'm not your mummy am I?
05:22
Laila's now six month old
05:23
and Jess is going back to work.
05:24
Come in.
05:30
So she's chosen a child minder for Laila.
05:32
Laila greets Jess very positively
05:33
when she comes to pick her up.
05:34
Hey Laila.
05:35
Who's that?
05:37
One of the signs that she's developing
05:37
There's mummy.
05:39
We've a had a lovely day haven't we?
05:43
We've had a lovely day, very chirpy.
05:47
Don't you go waking up in the middle of the night.
05:51
Babies often have to be left with child minders
05:54
or at nurseries and it seem that,
05:56
if the infant is given a special person,
05:58
who's sensitive to their needs and knows them well,
06:02
then the child can develop a real relationship
06:04
with another attachment figure.
06:08
For the infant to feel secure, the same interactions
06:12
as with their main carer are important,
06:14
sensitivity, empathy and love.
06:21
So Laila can have more tha one attachment figure,
06:25
but there'll be a hierarchy of preferences,
06:27
and Jess will remain the most important.