Baby Attachment and Trauma

Mother Helps Baby Develop a Healthy Nervous System

The following video talks about the importance of the mother and child bond in developing social and emotional intelligence. Disruption in this bond at this fragile time can cause  emotional disturbances, anxiety, and trauma in the baby that could last the rest of the child’s life.


When a baby is born, its sympathetic nervous system is mostly developed and raw. The sympathetic nervous system is what activates the body for action and creates highly charged emotions like fear and anger. It’s the gas on the pedal. The parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system that calms the body and soothes the activation created by the sympathetic, the brakes, hasn’t developed yet when the baby is born. It takes about 2 years for it to develop.

So a baby can’t calm or soothe his own anxieties, fear, and anger. It relies on the soothing “coos” of the mother, her calming gaze, and loving touch to regulate and train his own nervous system to grow properly into a system that can regulate itself. That means upsets can be calmed. The traumas of attachment disorders takeover when the soothing of the baby by the mother doesn’t occur. (The child may be put in an incubator right after birth and kept from the mother.) This will spawn a disregulated nervous system later in life where aroused states take over and have trouble being calmed down.

This type of trauma can be worked with but takes more time to treat than a shock trauma. And those who have attachment and developmental issues are more prone to trauma and PTSD later in life. Somatic Experiencing (SE) is a gentle, effective way of treating this type of trauma.

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2 Responses to Baby Attachment and Trauma

  1. Nguyen Thi Thu Van says:

    I have a question.
    Right after birth till 2 0r 3 years of age, the sympathetic nervous system always dominate the parasympathetic nervous system in babies. Is that one of the reasons that we can see baby with excessive sweating, especially during sleeping or feeding?

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