This article on Epainassist.com has been reviewed by a medical professional, as well as checked for facts, to assure the readers the best possible accuracy.

We follow a strict editorial policy and we have a zero-tolerance policy regarding any level of plagiarism. Our articles are resourced from reputable online pages. This article may contains scientific references. The numbers in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.

The feedback link “Was this Article Helpful” on this page can be used to report content that is not accurate, up-to-date or questionable in any manner.

This article does not provide medical advice.


Understanding Secure Attachments : The Health Benefits of Healthy Parent-Child Bonding

Secure attachment and bonding are deep emotional bonds between babies or children and their parents or anyone who provides the utmost care to them. Many of us have heard about attachment and bonding. However, only a few are sure exactly what they mean. Holding your baby close to you encourages secure attachment, responding to their cries or laughter also forms a bonding or a secure attachment. Secure attachments and bonding are extremely crucial for the development of a healthy parent-child relationship and also for the children’s mental and physical health.

In this post, we will learn more about secure attachments and bonding, explore the differences between the two, know the signs of children with healthy attachments, and also discover some of the most important health benefits of parent-child healthy attachment.

A Short Note on Secure Attachments and Bonding

Attachment is a process that begins with the baby’s birth and is expected to occur in almost every child.(1) Two different terms have been described in this regard, and that is “bonding”, which is the interaction and attachment of the mother with her baby, and “attachment”, which is the attachment of the baby to their mother.(2)

The attachment bond is the emotional connection that is formed by nonverbal communication between a baby and their parent, caretaker, or others. The form of communication affects the way your child develops physically, mentally, emotionally, intellectually, or socially. The mother’s level of attachment to her infant influences the attachment between the two. The presence of early interaction between the baby and the caregiver affects the cognitive and socio-emotional development of the baby. With this effective influence, the baby might adjust its familial, social, and romantic relations positively or negatively in the later phases of life.(3)

Although attachment occurs naturally as you, the parent, or caretaker of a baby take care of the baby’s needs, the quality of attachment and bonding varies. There are mainly two types of attachments, namely, the Secure attachment bond and the insecure attachment bond.

  • A secure attachment bond makes sure that the child feels secure, understood, and calm enough to experience optimal development of their nervous system. Their developing brain organizes well itself to provide the children with the best foundation for their lives. They grow with trust, love, healthy self-awareness, and empathy.
  • However, an insecure attachment bond fails to meet children’s need for understanding, security, and calm, thus preventing their developing brain from organizing itself in the best possible ways. This can make it hard for them to develop physically, mentally, and emotionally.

According to the Georgia Department of Human Services (GDHS), it has been stated that infants who are healthily or securely attached, have learned they can trust others to take care of them.(4) These children tend to react well to stress, form stronger intrapersonal relationships, be superior problem solvers, and be willing to independently try new things.

Difference Between Secure Attachment and Bonding

There are some major differences between secure attachment and bonding. Let us take a closer look at these differences.(5)

Secure attachment refers to the child’s emotional connection with their parents or caregivers that begins at birth and continues developing throughout life. However, bonding refers to the sense of connection that a parent or caregiver offers to the child. This begins before birth and usually develops quickly after the baby is born.

In a secure attachment, you, the parent follow your child’s slower pace and take the time to decipher and respond to their nonverbal cues that communicate. However, in the case of bonding, you maintain your usual adult pace while attending to your child.

In the case of a secure attachment, your child initiates and ends the interaction between you. For example, you want to take a cute picture of your child, however, you pick up on your baby’s nonverbal cue that they feel sleepy and need rest; so you postpone taking a photo. In case of bonding, you as the parent, initiate interactions with your child. For example, you want to take a cute photo of your baby, so irrespective of knowing their nonverbal signs, you play with them.

Parents who share a secure attachment bond with their children stay “in the moment” and listen, talk, and play with their children while giving them their full attention. However, parents sharing bonding with their children or infants usually focus on future goals, for example, trying to do everything that they can to have the healthiest and smartest child.

Why is a Secure Attachment so Essential?

A secure attachment teaches the babies to trust their parents, to communicate their feelings with them, and eventually to trust others as well. As babies and parents are under a secure attachment bond, babies learn how to have a healthy sense of self, and how to become empathetic, loving, and caring.

Secure attachment causes the parts of the baby’s brain responsible for emotional and social development, communication, and relationships to develop in the best possible way. This also helps the babies connect with others healthily.

Signs that Tell Your Child Has Healthy Attachments

Check out some signs that tell your child has healthy attachments.

  • Your child prefers your company to that of strangers. Although your child can spend time with others, they look to you for support and comfort.
  • They look at you to be comforted. Your child trusts you and feels secure with you.
  • Your child welcomes you with a smile and a positive mood after a period of separation or after an absence.
  • Your child gives, takes, and also shares. These actions are key signs that social skills in your child have well developed because of their healthy attachments with you.
  • Your child is highly responsive to discipline. Healthy attachment with parents facilitates trust and children trust you to teach them how to behave properly. Over time, they become wiser and more disciplined.
  • A child who has a healthy attachment to their parents is confidently independent. This is the beauty of a healthy parent-child relationship that promotes feelings of safety, trust, and confidence in the children.

Health Benefits of Parent-Child Healthy Attachment

Parent-Child Health Attachment Inoculates Children Against Toxic Stress

The stress of unmet attachment requirements can manifest in a child’s behavior. It can also derail children’s mental, social, emotional, and physical growth and development. Toxic stress is the kind of stress that begins in infancy when the pressures or stress of being a helpless infant is not eased by the comfort of a parent or caregiver. This is because, it creates pathways in the baby’s brain that keep the child on high alert for danger, thus making it hard to concentrate on learning.

Parent-Child Healthy Attachments Keep Children on a Healthy Developmental Track

One of the major health benefits of a healthy parent-child attachment is that it keeps children on a healthy developmental track. The stress of unsent attachment needs can put a child under stress not just in infancy, but throughout their life. A landmark 30-year study at the University of Minnesota which was initiated in the mid-1970s has found long-term patterns between secure attachment and certain aspects of their development.(6)

It was found from the study that children around grade four who had a history of secure attachment had fewer behavioral issues when their families were under major stress than those who did not. It was also found there were links between insecurity and later psychological issues. Researchers of the Minnesota study found that children whose parents were unavailable emotionally for comfort had more conduct disorders in adolescence, and children whose parents resisted letting them explore the stress, were more likely to have anxiety disorder as they grew up as teens.

The developmental path in a child is filled with tasks for your baby to do, capacities to develop, and skills to learn. Secure attachment plays a major role in many of them.

Children Learn to Regulate Emotions Well

Babies or newborns cannot handle intense or stressed experiences of emotions all by themselves. However, a major goal of having a reliable parent or caregiver is to get assistance with infant distress.

First, the parent or the primary caregiver regulates the emotions of the baby from the outside, by soothing their cries, singing lullabies to them, rocking them, smiling gently at them, and so forth. As baby learns and trusts that someone can help make hard feelings manageable, they turn out to the parent or caregiver in times of need, and this slowly helps them to learn to soothe themselves.

Ultimately, the child learns to regulate emotions pretty well. Such children can also turn to others for co-regulation throughout life when they need to. This ability to coregulate emotions is a big part of intimacy that plays a crucial role in the later part of life.

Healthy Attachment Frees Their Mind to Learn

Having a free mind helps in better learning. Children who are brought up feeling safe and supported, learn better when compared to those who are brought up with enormous stress, due to lack of support and comfort.

A secure attachment or a healthy parent-child attachment is the first social connection that aids your baby start learning. Children start seeking assistance with learning from parents, and a pleasant interaction with their parents makes the learning process much easier.

Parent-Child Healthy Attachment Helps Children Establish a Healthy Sense of Self

Secure attachments help children establish a healthy sense of self. Babies who share a healthy attachment with their parents recognize that they are separate individuals and they become more aware of themselves. Secure attachments to a caring parent or adult give babies all the support that they require to become separate individuals.

Healthy Attachment Builds Confidence and Self-Reliance

Healthy attachment also builds confidence and self-reliance in children. However, those without a secure attachment can end up having problems relying on themselves when they grow older, or they can end up without relying on anyone else.

Healthy Parent-Child Attachments Sets Kids Up for Social Competence

Relationships, especially parent-child relationships are key to health and happiness in life. A healthy parent-child attachment sets kids up for social competence. The idea of social competence encompasses all the major ways we can benefit from the social parts of our lives, including mutual support, intimacy, getting along in all the domains of our lives, and empathy. It is also obvious that social relationships affect a wide range of health outcomes, which include physical and mental health, and mortality risk.

Parent-Child Healthy Attachments Help in Improving Physical Health Too

To our surprise, parent-child healthy attachments also help in improving the physical health of children. Although the pathway between secure attachment and physical development is not well-defined, secure attachment is linked with better health.

Supportive interactions with others help in improving immune, endocrine, and cardiovascular functions. Secure attachments also help in reducing wear and tear on the body. So, parent-child healthy attachments not only promote social, emotional, or mental health but also benefit in improving physical health too.


Secure attachments and bonding are extremely important and help in developing a confident and happy child. The brains of infants who form secure attachments with their mothers, parents, or caregivers, have a greater foundation and ability to form healthy relationships as they grow up. However, children without healthy parent-child relationships or secure attachments might have hardship forming healthy relationships with others. There are many other health benefits of a healthy attachment and we have talked about these benefits above. If you want to have a confident, disciplined, and happy child who grows up to be a responsible and healthy adult, then make sure to develop a secure attachment and bond with your baby.


Also Read:

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 27, 2023

Recent Posts

Related Posts