Graeme and I are leaving Madi for 6 days to go to Hawaii for our friends wedding. After I booked our flights to Hawaii I immediately started panicking. I have left Madi before for 2 nights in the past for a medical conference and a bachelorette party, but I have never been away from her for 5 nights! Will Madi will feel abandoned? Will her attachment (the bond between a baby and mother) to me with fade over the 5 nights? Is it okay to go on vacation without your baby?
After all, I won’t be playing, cuddling, or putting her to sleep. In the past when I have left Madi in the care of her Nanny I worried, “will my baby become attached to the nanny.” This time I was leaving Madi with her grandparents, but I still wondered if her attachment to me would fade.
When does attachment develop?
Attachment develops at birth when your baby begins to respond to your voice and follow your movements with their eyes. Experiences you have with your child over the next years will help form the foundation of your child’s attachment to you.
Who will your child become attached to?
The medical literature on childhood attachment also indicates that children can develop healthy secure attachments with multiple caregivers. This is provided that you leave your child in the care of someone they trust.
My parents are very supportive and love to take care of Madi. Madi enjoys her “Gung Gung” and “Poh Poh”. They are able to soothe Madi when she is fussy and upset. When Graeme and I decided to go to Hawaii I was confident that her grandparents could help Madi feel cared for while we were away.
When and How can an unhealthy insecure attachment develop?
Unhealthy insecure attachment usually develops from a mother being inattentive and unresponsive to their child’s needs, or leaving them for very long periods of time (often over 3 months). An unhealthy insecure attachment doesn’t usually develop simply because the mother went away for 5 days.
How do I form a healthy secure attachment with my baby?
A mother who is able to sensitively respond to their infants needs such as crying, hunger, and physical discomfort helps to form a healthy secure attachment. When Madi was little I remember her getting startled when I accidentally dropped a glass and it made a loud noise. Madi immediately started crying. I ran over to her and picked her up and cuddled her, reassuring everything was OK. The mother’s ability to relieve infant’s distress is fundamental to the growth of attachment in the infant.
What if my child is more fussy than other children?
Some children have different temperaments and are more difficult to soothe, but the process of attending and supporting your child when they are startled, injured, hungry, or upset, is what is important to develop a healthy secure attachment.
Will my baby become attached to the Nanny or her grandparents if I leave for vacation?
The good news is that if your baby is responding positively to being in the care of a Nanny or grandparents that this is a GOOD thing! After all, you want your little one to be loved and cared for while you are away at work, school, or for a quick vacation to rest and rejuvenate.
Children can develop healthy attachments to more than one caregiver, and so long as you return from your trip and continue to respond sensitively to your child needs then everything should be fine.
Going on vacation without your baby will very unlikely cause an unhealthy attachment.
This is provided you have frequent, consistent quality time with your baby and they feel supported with you when are around.
I am leaving this weekend to Hawaii and I know I will miss Madi like crazy. Going on vacation without your baby can be anxiety provoking. I also realize that I need to use this opportunity to connect with my husband and recharge (self care mamas). One of my mom friends told me that vacationing away from her sons actually make her a better mom when she gets home, because she is rested emotionally and physically. Self-care is very important in parenting, and can make you enjoy the time you have with your family more.
Madi is in the “terrible two’s,” so when she is fussy I always do my best to snuggle and comfort her because I want her to feel loved and supported. Madi loves her Gung Gung and Poh Poh, so I feel confident she will feel supported. Madi trusts my parents and therefore will likely not develop an unhealthy insecure attachment while I am away.
My husband and I are blessed to have family that we trust to look after Madi. Although Madi will miss us I know she will have a great time with my parents.
Learn more on topics from Dr. Mom
Sadock, Benjamin J., Virginia A. Sadock, and Pedro Ruiz. Kaplan & Sadock’s Synopsis of Psychiatry: Behavioral Sciences/clinical Psychiatry. Eleventh edition. Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer, 2015.