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The Truth About Bonding

First Forays

Getting from birth to bonding involves many steps that most moms do naturally. What doctors call "bonding" in the mother is often called "attachment" from the infant's point of view. "The building blocks are the little things that you and your baby engage in together every day  -- the gazes, touches, talking, holding, feeding, smiling," says Deborah Weatherston, Ph.D., director of the graduate program in infant mental health at Wayne State University, in Detroit. "All these things lead to a trusting and emotionally joined relationship." It's that sense of security and love that lets your baby know that when she calls you, you'll come  -- whether it's to soothe her tummy, feed her, or change her diaper.

How can you tell whether your baby has become attached to you? "She seems more relaxed in your presence and you can fairly easily allay her distress," says Jerome Kagan, Ph.D., research professor of psychology at Harvard University. "Even if you can't, it doesn't necessarily mean that you haven't bonded. It could just be that your baby is harder to comfort than others or that there's a condition such as gas or colic that you can't ease right away."