Saturday, November 5, 2011

Some Suggestions About Encouraging Attachments: Here are some helpful things to consider trying with your new child

  • “Wear your baby”: Avoid baby seats and stiff carriers: hold your baby instead, and keep your baby close to you; try flexible “snugli” type carriers. (But please use car seats when in cars).
  • If children are older, sit them on your lap to read, eat, watch tv; if your child will accept it from you, feed him/her yourself or make a fun game out of feeding your child. (One mother whose child avoided eye contact with her made getting eye contact into a game: every time her child would look at her during the game she fed child an M&M candy. The child’s spontaneous eye contact with her began to improve.) Go back and repeat behaviors and interactions from earlier developmental stages.
  • Don’t use “time out” as discipline, where child is removed from parents. Instead use “time-in”, so that your child must be close to you. If possible, transition slowly from what your child is used to by repeating regular patterns and schedules, and foods, toys, blankets, music, etc. that your child is used to. Make changes in these, including names, gradually.
  • In any case, keep your routines and schedules as consistent and simple as possible, which reinforces safety, trust and, eventually, attachment.
  • Use the simple words in your child’s language that your child knows/uses.
  • Use simple hand signs from American Sign Language to help with the transition from one language to another.
  • You alone, as parents, should take care of all tasks related to direct baby care, for as long as possible: changing, feeding, bath, play, sleep, etc.
  • Touch your child gently as often as possible, while smiling, singing, or using soft voice and baby talk.
  • It helps if children can sleep where they can see parents if they wake up.
  • Feed your baby yourself, instead of letting the child self feed or propping up a bottle. Make loving eye contact and smile; use soft touches and soft voice, try singing while feeding.
  • Hold and rock your child several times a day, holding close to you, heart to heart; use eye contact, smiles, singing, and baby talk.  Try infant massage each day; stoke, soothe, brush hair, put on lotion. When changing, feeding, bathing, playing- use positive eye contact, smiles, soft baby talk or singing.
  • Frequent physical interactions that are fun: simple toys or play like peek-a-boo and clapping hands that your child enjoys. Try silly faces and voices, gentle tickles,” tickle kisses”, return smiles when your child smiles at you. But keep it low key, and repeat the familiar; don’t over stimulate.
  • Keep the environment at home simple, calm, and consistent: avoid constant TV or videos, loud music, changes, too many stimulating toys and other things, lots of people; use soft textures a lot for toys, clothing.
  • Introduce new things and changes slowly and one at a time.
Attachment and International Adoption. From Choices and Challenges in International Adoption by Joan McNamara ©2009

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