Monday, 01 March 2021
Attachment Activities Print
Having Fun With Your Baby or Toddler!

The best part of helping your baby or toddler to attach is that you get to spend large parts of the day interacting with your sweetie in fun and silly ways.

Note: Some activities may feel threatening to a child who has just arrived home or to a child who has a significant attachment disorder. Pay attention to your child’s comfort level and consult an attachment therapist if you have concerns.

Cracker/Cereal Kisses

For older babies: Place a Cheerio™between your lips and allow the baby to eat it directly from your mouth.

For toddlers: Sit on the floor a short distance away from your toddler. Place a mini Teddy Graham™or other small cracker between your lips. Have the child crawl to you and eat the treat from your mouth. As the child comprehends the game, he may sit further and further from you, thereby maintaining eye contact for longer and longer periods of fun.

One mom writes that mini Teddy Graham™ kisses work WONDERS!!!! “He just laughs and laughs and I get to steal lots of kisses. He practically throws himself on me to get the teddy from my lips...it's so much fun!”

Eye Contact Games

Let’s Play Ball! Play games with a large plastic ball. I sit my baby on top of the ball and sit on the floor so we are facing each other and looking into each other’s eyes. I sing songs while rocking him back and forth, side to side, or bouncing on top of the ball. He loves the songs and movement but once he stops looking at me the movement stops until he finds my eyes again.

Mirror Images We sit on the floor next to each other or he sits in my lap in front of the closet mirror and we make silly faces. He laughs at my silly faces and enjoys seeing the ones he can make too.

Sticker Face or Bubble Face Game Set the child on your lap, facing you. Blow bubbles or put stickers on your nose. You keep control of the bubble wand or stickers. One mom writes, “Before she was completely verbal (age 2 - 2.5) we'd make her say "ppppp" for please sticker or "bbbbb" for please bubble. She had to give eye contact, say the consonant sound, and then we would blow the bubbles or put a sticker on her nose.”

“Don’t You Look at Me” Game At intermittent times during the day I'd get down to her level, initiate close direct eye contact (even holding her head gently if I had to) and say "don't you look at me" in a very playful tone then turn my head away. She'd run around me trying to get eye contact; when she did, the tickle bugs came out!

Zoom Game Hold the child’s head gently and zoom your face into hers to the point of touching noses. A mom writes, “We'd say "Zoooooooooom,” her eyes would cross, and we'd all giggle.”

Kisses Make up different types of kisses: butterfly (brushing eyelashes against the cheek while looking into her eyes), whale (same as butterfly but without the fluttering eyelashes), and Eskimo (rubbing noses together.)

Blinking Games Shut your eyes tight and open one or both, etc... A mom shares, “The other day we were snuggling and he started blinking, closing his eyes and opening them and giggling. At first I didn't know what he was doing and then it occurred to me he was playing the blinking game. It has become a little game that HE initiates now. Makes me laugh every time!

Where's the Baby? At age 18 months, my son pointed to my eye and said, “Baby.” He saw himself in the reflection of my eyes. He kept looking intently into my eyes. For many months after this I could get him to establish and maintain eye contact by asking him, "Where's the baby?" He would stare deeply into my eyes, looking for his own reflection.

On Eye Contact…
With our daughter, the different approaches are what finally taught her to look at our eyes when she wanted something or wanted to talk to us. She still has problems maintaining extended periods of eye contact but now that she's verbal and older, it's much easier to explain to her that looking at someone lets them know you are talking to them and it makes them feel important. She gets that. We knew she was catching on when one day, very distracted by something else, I answered her without looking at her and she said, “Excuse me, Mama...are you listening?...I don't see your eyes!"

Bonding Activities

Mommy/Baby Monkey Look at some pictures of mommy monkeys with their babies. Tell the child that the baby monkey holds tight to the mommy and the mommy keeps the baby safe. When a tiger comes close, the baby runs to the mommy and holds on tight.

Show the child how to wrap his arms and legs tightly around you. Ask someone to pretend to be a tiger. When the tiger growls* the child should run to you and cling to you tightly, like a monkey. The tiger checks to see if the monkey is holding tight. If any limbs aren’t tight, the tiger can give the limb a gentle tug.

*Note: the intent is not to terrify the child! The tiger can very gently growl…just enough to help the child understand that it’s time to grab hold of Mom. This helps the child learn reciprocal holding.

Where is Mommy? Playing a variety of peek-a-boo and hide and seek games is fun and focuses the child’s attention on his mommy. During the games I frequently say, “Where is Mommy?” or “Look at Mommy,” reinforcing who Mommy is. This is also helpful outside of game time when I need my son to look at me.

Go Fishing Together! Get some goldfish crackers, pretzel sticks and peanut butter. Put all in three separate dishes. Tell the child he has to do some work and “go fishing” for Mommy. He has to take a pretzel stick, dip it in peanut butter and stick a goldfish on it. Then he puts what he “caught” on a separate plate and/or feeds the fish to Mommy. (And, of course, Mommy can “go fishing” and feed him!)

Singing and Nursery Rhymes

We sing familiar songs with attachment-friendly lyrics.
Rock a bye baby, in the treetop,
When the wind blows, the cradle will rock,
When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall,
And Mommy will catch you, cradle and all.

Some nursery rhymes need a little tweaking:
There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children she knew just what to do.
She gave them some broth. She gave them some bread.
She gave hugs and kisses and tucked them in bed.

Make up lyrics using familiar songs that have the child’s name in it and the fact that you are his forever mommy. Sing during bottle time and on car rides.

Examples (to the tune of ”Are You Sleeping?”)
I love baby, sweet sweet baby,
Joshua, Joshua
I will be your Mommy, forever always Mommy,
Joshua, Joshua

Mommy loves you, Mommy loves you,
Yes she does, yes she does,
Mommy loves Johnny. Mommy loves Johnny.
Yes, she does. Yes, she does.

The following songs were graciously contributed by Deb in Minnesota:
My mommy keeps me safe,
My mommy keeps me safe,
Hey HO! That's great to know!
My mommy keeps me safe
(Tune: Farmer in the Dell)

My mommy is in charge…
My mommy watches out…
My mommy loves me so…
My mommy comes back…

Mommy loves her Molly so,
Molly so, Molly so,
Mommy loves her Molly so,
She will always keep her safe.
(Tune: Mary Had a Little Lamb)

Mommy loves me, yes she does,
When I'm bad and when I'm good,
Mommy loves me all the time,
That will never change and that's just fine.
Yes Mommy loves me,
Yes Mommy loves me,
Yes Mommy loves me,
She always will love me.
(Tune: Jesus loves me)

Mommy loves you so much,
Mommy loves you so much,
Mommy loves you forever,
Mommy loves you so much.
(Tune: Happy Birthday to You)

Zippidy do dah, zippety ay,
Mommy will protect you all day.
Do not worry, you are safe,
Mommy protects you all day

Zippidy do dah, zippety ay,
Mommy loves you every day.
Do not worry I won't go away,
I will love you every day.
(Tune: Zippidy Do Dah)

Mommy loves you very much
And she thinks you're special.
She will always keep you safe and
Be your mom forever.
(Tune: Yankee Doodle)

Other songs:
I Love You (from Barney)
You Are My Sunshine


Select from the list in Books for Children, or make your own:

Take pictures of Mommy and baby doing daily activities together: eating, bottle feeding, sleeping, playing, rocking, dancing, hugging, etc… Compile the photos in a mini photo album. Look through the book frequently, making comments such as, “Your good mommy is feeding you a bottle” or “Your good mommy is rocking you. You’re safe with Mommy.”

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