Q: What is the difference between “bonding” and “attachment”?

A: “Bonding” is not the same as “attachment.” Parents bond with children; children attach to  parents. Most parents bond quickly with their children. A child forms an attachment with each parent over time. Attachments for infants and young children are a biological necessity for emotional, social, and physical development. Sensitive, responsive, and consistent care is the foundation for healthy attachments.

A child’s experience with each parent’s caregiving is a powerful predictor of a child’s social, emotional, and physical wellbeing. Children, especially infants and young children, do best when they receive sensitive, responsive, and consistent caregiving from both parents.

 Children who experience sensitive, responsive, and consistent caregiving are more likely to have healthy brain development, which supports better social skills, higher self-esteem, and a better ability to manage emotions. This positive caregiving enables a child to trust, feel close to others, and care about other’s feelings.