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Temperament & Attachment

Signs that your baby needs to rest or have some time away from what they are doing

Reading your baby’s cues

The following signs tell you that your baby wants attention:

  • Crying
  • Becoming fussy
  • Smiling
  • Cooing/babbling
  • Looking at you
  • Making sucking sounds

This is a good time to smile, talk, sing, play or feed your baby.

Each child is born with a special and unique way of responding to their environment. This is known as temperament and is reflected in your child’s behaviour.

Your child’s temperament changes as they grow and develop. It also changes in response to different people and places.

As a parent, it is important to understand your child’s temperament so that you respond to their behaviour in a way that respects your child’s unique characteristics.

It is also important to recognize that as a parent you may have a different temperament than your child. Understanding and respecting these differences may require you to change your behaviour. This will help to contribute to the development of a healthy relationship with your child.

Understanding your child’s temperament

Use the following as a guide to help understand and respond sensitively to your child:

  • How active your child is during sleeping, playing, eating and bathing
  • How easily your child settles into a routine
  • How your child handles new situations
  • How sensitive your child is to stimulation
  • How intensely your child responds to things
  • What your child’s general mood is like
  • How long your child can focus on an activity
  • How easily your child is distracted from what they is doing
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Children who are looked after in a warm and caring way in the first few years of life form closer relationships with the people who look after them. This is called attachment (external link).

Children who form close relationships early in life are:

  • Better able to learn
  • Cope with stress better
  • Have fewer behaviour problems
  • Are more likely to have better social skills

To build a close relationship, you and your baby need to learn to communicate with each other. When your baby is young, they cannot talk, so they show you what they want or how they feel with sounds, actions, and facial expressions. By watching your baby closely you will learn what they are “saying” and how to respond in a way that meets their needs.

The more you learn to read and respond to your baby’s signals or cues, the more your baby will respond to you. This is the beginning of a warm and loving relationship between you and your baby.

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