newborn care

Your Newborns Inner-Self Esteem

The worlds of being pregnant and having a newborn are poles apart from one another. If you’re a new parent, you wise up pretty quickly that your busy 24/7 attending to your newborns endless stream of physical needs. And making sure your baby is healthy is important for his or her growth and development. In addition to your baby’s physical needs during the first two years, you need to address your baby’s psychological needs in order that their self-esteem will grow and develop. Newborns have two types of psychological needs, social and cognitive. You’re the principal caregiver for your baby, and their inner self-esteem is dependent on learning to trust and develop a strong emotional bond with you. You need to provide an interesting environment for your child, one that stimulates your baby’s curiosity and motivates them to explore. In this blog post I’ll focus on, social self-esteem and how you can build strong attachments bonds with you baby.

newborn development

Attachment Theory: Social Inner Self-Esteem

 Attachment Theory John Bowlby Bowlby conducted groundbreaking research in the 1950s and 60s that led to a better understanding of infant-mother attachment. The way in which a mother and infant interact with one another, beginning at around three months of age, will eventually produce that child’s model for adult love and intimacy. Via

Let me introduce you to John Bowlby,  a psychiatrist and researcher who established a theory of child development called, “Attachment Theory”. Two of the main attributes of John Bowlbys theory are:

  •  The relationship you develop during the first two years of your newborn’s life affects your child’s physical and cognitive development.
  • How your baby attaches or bonds with you sets the stage for how your child develops and maintain lifetime relationships.

The essence of Attachment Theory is your child’s proximity to you or one primary caretaker. “When I’m close to my mom I feel safe, happy and secure. When I’m away from her, I feel worried, fearful and unsafe”. When your child was born, you both attached to one another through, sense, sight, touch, and taste. After months of cooing and cuddling your baby, that attachment changes and becomes a strong bond. How do we know this? Because around six to seven months a baby tries to maintain proximity to his or her mother or primary caretaker. Your baby will follow you with their eyes, reach out to you, laugh or smile when they see you approaching. The attachment bond that you create with your baby is so strong if your baby feels it’s at risk he or she will take action. For example, at six to seven months old if you leave the room he or she will become agitated and cry to preserve it. The critical piece to forming a strong emotional bond with your newborn is the quality of your interactions. The nature of your social interactions with your baby must be consistent, dependable and nurturing.


Effective Parenting Skills


Mary Ainsworth

The second person I’d like you to meet is, Dr. Mary D. Ainsworth. Dr. Ainsworth, was a developmental psychologist .She worked closely with Dr. John Bowlby, on separation, attachment and loss. Her work provided the foundation for attachment theory. She carried on his legacy in the United States, conducting systematic studies of attachments between mothers and infants. ”No one had ever looked at that” before Dr. Ainsworth’s work, said Jude A. Cassidy, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Maryland at College Park. Dr. Ainsworth also developed methods for assessing the quality of the mother-infant bond. Attachment theory holds that infants need a ”secure” attachment to thrive, and that ”anxious” attachments can lead to problems later in life. She looked at a way of measuring, which babies were securely attached and which were not. She argued that picking up a crying baby does not spoil the child; rather, it reduces crying in the future. That was a huge controversy over that, ‘It had been thought that picking up a baby spoiled it and led to more crying. Instead, it teaches the baby that the world is a responsive place and leads to less crying long term. These findings had a big impact on how pediatricians advised mothers in the second half of the 20th century. Via

Attachment Styles

Types of attachment

You and you infant have a steady stream of harmonious communication. The more sensitive you are to your baby’s behaviors and the more responsive your infant is to your feedback the stronger the attachment.

5 Newborn Attachment Styles

Crying: When my daughter was one-month hold we took a 5-½ hour flight from New York to Los Angeles. As soon as the plane departed, she began crying. Nothing I did to relieve her distress worked and I could feel the eyes of every passenger glaring our way. I was sitting next to Julie Andrews, (Mary Poppins for God’s sake). She turned to me and said, “Don’t worry, a baby’s cry is always loudest to a mother”.  Remarkably, her comment calmed both my baby and me. Your baby’s cry sets off an interactive communication system known as, “distress-relief” sequence. Mothers have a physiological response, one of heightened arousal when she hears her baby’s cry, and she’ll remain in an aroused state until her baby has relief. Not only does the distress-relief sequence help strengthen the bonds between you and baby, but it also helps with your infant’s sociability. Your baby develops a sense of value and control with each interaction. They begin to recognize that they can trigger predictable responses from their environment.

Gazing Mutual gaze begins between the third and sixth week, just before your baby’s first social smile. The gazing that occurs between you and your infant provides one of the most powerful systems for boosting attachment. If babies are unable to manage or maintain mutual gaze due to developmental delays, mothers are likely to feel separated from them.

Responsive Communicating:  One of the key concepts in attachment theory is  you must use a communication style that elicits a  response or signal from your baby to form a close bond. Psychologists observed that mothers communicating with their newborns, both mothers, and their babies’ heads moved in tune with
the mother’s voice. If the mother stops speaking, their infant will stop moving and make a curious facial expression. 

Smiling: Social smiling begins around the second week and the second month of life. The first type of smile you’ll notice is an exogenous smile. An exogenous smile is when your baby smiles at the sight of a colorful toy or face, something from the outside environment causes your baby to smile. At around four months, infants can distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar faces. You may notice that you baby smiles at you, but your infant frowns at the face of a visitor. This guarded reaction to unknown faces is a key feature in the development of attachment. Also, around four months of age your infant begins recognizing that when they give a big smile someone will smile back. 

Crawling and Walking: Between 6 and 24 months, babies start moving around by crawling and walking. You’ll notice your child making sure they’re close to you by following you around the house. Around your baby’s first birthday they’ll begin calling for you when they miss your presence.

Be a parent who’s sensitive to your baby’s attachment styles.  Remember to respond appropriately to his or her signals by becoming child-centered. To be, “Child-centered” means that you actively engage, and nurture your baby’s signals (crying, gazing, smiling). Doing this will help your infant establish firm foundations of inner self- esteem.

building newborns self-esteem


  • Krystyna Lagowski

    It’s true that a baby’s cry knows no language barriers – wherever you go in the world, a baby’s cry will sound the same. And, I imagine, elicit the same response from both mother and passers-by!

  • I don’t have any kids yet, but this is some good info.

  • Tim

    Having never had babies I can only think about what seems logical and true to me. A friend of mine has two little ones and each is surprisingly different in almost all ways. If you have a baby with a tendency towards the drama and another who is completely laid back then I am thinking two methods of raising would be required. But then again, what do I know 🙂

  • All makes sense although I think it is tough for the mother who doesn’t have the luxury of spending most of her day with her newborns for two years. I also love the images, especially the one on top of the post.

    • Yeah being a working mom is a whole different ballgame. But babies are very resilient and the intensity of interaction is, not the amount of time interacting is important. I like the first one too Ken : )

  • What great images and information! I do recall when my son would try to walk, he usually looked to see where I was and walked to me. I think it gave him incentive to try. =) Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you Sabrina for your kind words. I’ll keep the images coming : )

  • I really love your images as well. They are so creative. I don’t have any children, but I find this very interesting. I was colic as a baby and always crying. My mother was told just to let me cry it out. The interesting thing is I then continued to cry a lot as a child. My husband jokes that every childhood story ends with, “and then I started to cry.” Really intriguing.

    • I believe New moms want to the best for their child. Sadly, many new moms didn’t have the best information and relied on what their mothers told them. It’s a different world now, especially that new moms have the interest to find out anything they want to know about parenting.

  • This is really interesting research Pamela! When my daughters were babies, I couldn’t stand to let them “cry it out” so I was always picking them up. Glad to know I didn’t spoil them! I’m sure someday they’ll end up in therapy for something else I did wrong, but at least it wasn’t that. 🙂

    • Yeah, I hear you Meredith. I used to wonder if my kids would spill their guts about my parenting on Oprah one day 🙂

  • You know Pamela even though I don’t have children it would be worth following this series just for the images! As a visual person I gotta tell you I absolutely love the creative ways you use your images to help tell your stories! On a more series note, as I was reading about the formative years and importance of connecting with children right from the beginning I had a very different reaction from the one you intended. It made me sad to think there are so many people who don’t have this level of care and attention as children that I suppose it shouldn’t be any wonder how many of us are so screwed up as adults. Thanks for what you’re doing to help a few more children have a better start in life!

    • You made my day Marquita! I’m so happy you like the images I love creating them for my posts. And it’s nice to hear people enjoy them. Thank-you.

  • Catarina Alexon

    Absolutely, it’s essential to do whatever you can to raise your newborns social inner self esteem. But if it gets too complicated with too many theories parents will go crazy. Besides all babies are different.

    • Yes it’s always a good idea to read the information and use what resonates for your particular situation.

  • The truth for me is thank goodness there weren’t all these theories around when we were raising our son! We would have likely gone crazy as I watch my son and daughter-in-law often doing these days. Sometimes there is so much information, we don’t pay attention to the actual fact, each of us is so totally unique. While I love labels for starting a conversation, ie, attachment styles, where they lead us can be different with our uniqueness.

    • I think the theories help us not to label behaviors because they provide information gathered by the scientific method. Attachment theory tells us, “this is what happens when you do this or that”. One of the most critical outcomes of attachment theory was interacting and nurturing your baby combined with feeding and tending formed strong mother-baby bonding.

  • Phoenicia

    Informative article.

    Babies pick up so much from their environment. They desire to be nurtured and fussed over and it is a parents job to meet this need. I totally agree with Dr Mary Ainsworth that babies are not more likely to be spoilt if we cuddle them when they are crying. They need to feel protected and cares for otherwise they will become detached and untrusting of adults as they grow.

    • Your’e right Phoenicia, during those first few months, “spoiling” your baby isn’t what parent’s need to worry about.

  • Very interesting post. I like the idea of being sensitive to your baby’s attachment style. I never looked at it like this when my daughter was a baby – hope I did it somewhat instinctively. I just read a memoir about an adoption of a five year old who was later diagnozed with detachment disorder because of abandonment in early years. The adoptive parents did a lot to help the boy cope and he made a lot of progress, but I also got the sense there would be some fear and distrust lasting into adulthood.

    • I want to do a special series on attachment and self-esteem for adoptive parents and parents of special needs children.

  • I love the developmental theories that have been coming out over the last number of years. Whether or not I agree with all of them is another matter. What I do find though is that in every theory there are little gems that have specific meaning to you. So while we may not agree with the generalization, we can find value because of that.

    • Absolutely Lenie. My intention with this series is to teach parents that their chid’s developmental stages influence their behavior and how receptive they are to a parent’s influence.

  • You’re so right Jacqueline, we are all unique and complex individuals and that’s a wondrous thing.

  • Jacqueline Gum

    Interesting research Pamela! These days, I hear theories all over the board about attachment styles. But it stands to reason that each baby might be different! After all, we’re all individuals and that starts at birth!