Baby Photograph

How Attachments Form

Infants begin forming attachments even before they are born.  During prenatal development, infants learn the sounds and smells of their mother. Shortly after birth, a newborn infant can recognize her mother's voice and smell, based on this prenatal experience.


Infants and their parents begin the process of bonding shortly after birth. Over time, infants form specific attachment relationships with their parents. These  early attachments establish patterns for the way the child connects with people later in life.


Some parents worry that their infant will become attached to a child care provider who will "replace" them.  Actually, infants can — and do — form attachment relationships with many different people. Each attachment is different, and is specific to that person.  A child's attachment to other adults will not replace her attachment to her parents.