Bonding and Emotional Health


How we respond to babies matters because emotional health in infants lays the foundation for healthy relationships in later life.
Isolation, disfunction and distress in society is largely the product of generations of child rearing and birth practices that did not respect babies as people, and undermined the innate wisdom of their mothers. image of mother and baby

The baby's first relationship develops in the womb.  During pregnancy,the baby responds to both the internal and external environment of the mother. Communicating with the baby in the womb, through thought, touch or voice, and sensing for the baby's response, can begin a dialogue. This develops a bond with the baby, that deepens the attachment when the baby is born.
Immediately after birth, love hormones are present in both mother and baby, to support a deep bonding at their first meeting. If the first moments of contact with the mother are delayed, interrupted or clouded by drugs, shock or pain, the roots of loving and relating are disturbed. When this happens, it is important that mother and baby get the help and support they need to recover and to develop a loving relationship.


Babies cry for a reason. In very young babies crying may relate to the experience of coming into the world. Excessive crying can be symptomatic of trauma. If crying seems to have no obvious cause, it is likely that the baby is releasing tension from fear, frustration, anger, loss or pain.
We need to be with babies as they cry, and to let them know they are accepted and loved with all of their feelings.


hold me
just hold me
hear me
be with me.

let me know it is ok to be how I am, who I am.
let me know I don't have to smile
to be who you want me to be.
let me know I don't have to be someone else
to be loved.

hold me just as I am
with my anger, my pain, my sadness.
hold me just as I am
with my crying, my fear, my neediness.

help me to be here

help me
to want to be
in this body
on this earth

welcome me
listen to me
and hold me
just hold me

Lesley Downie

Links and References
Listening to Babies
Tears and Tantrums
Infant Trauma
Crying to be Heard
Butterfly Touch
Helping Babies to Heal
Bonding Before Birth
Touch and Attachment
home page
©Lesley Downie