Bonding & attachment

Move through developmental hurdles


As a new mother of an adopted baby, I found Catherine an invaluable source of support and information through the challenging first three months together.  The simple movement techniques we learned helped my daughter move through a developmental hurdle during her first year to become the happy, healthy toddler she is today.   –  Diane

Babies depend on their caregivers and are designed as social beings who call on parents and others for help. If your baby makes little contact, is unresponsive, or pulls away, he is showing us that he needs help to make connection with others.

Helping your child to bond with you

Even with the best of parenting, a child may not be able to bond. Babies who cannot easily bond are usually stressed in specific systems such as touch, hearing or vision. Life may have already been difficult for a baby who has experienced birth trauma, sibling loss or adoption. These stressors create a barrier to the natural inclination of a child to connect with his parents. Gentle, patient therapies can provide your child with slow step-by-step movement into close connection with you.

A child give us clues that she needs help when she:

  • Does not respond well to voices
    • If her hearing has been checked and is fine, but child is unresponsive, she may have auditory processing problems. When hearing is very sensitive and overwhelms a child, she may block incoming sound, because it is too much to take in. Stressful events may have led to her shutting down this system.
  • Makes very little eye contact
    • A child’s visual system and visual processing may be impaired because of misalignment of bones that house the eyes, emotional experiences of stress in utero, during birth or as a newborn, or simply general overload to multiple systems, resulting in low priority for the demands of social interaction.
  • Pulls away, becomes upset or cries when touched
    • A child may withdraw if he has physical discomfort in an area, tension in the head or spine, a weak tactile system, exposures that increased tactile sensitivity, including birth impacts and medical procedures, or was premature.
  • Moves or rests in a rigid, tense way or thrashes and throws herself back in an arch
  • Hits herself or bangs her head
  • Screams or cries hard inconsolably
    • Cranial bones of the head and neck may line up so poorly that your child is in pain from pressure on the spinal cord or vagus nerve. Birth trauma or extensive medical procedures can result in shock held in a child’s system. Extreme stress in utero or as a newborn may similarly affect a child who is adopted or has been in a war zone. When stuck in shock or trauma, a child may resort to survival strategies of fight, flight or freeze. These states are driven by fear and adrenaline. Behaviors with these states can range the gamut: from screaming and thrashing to passive withdrawal.
  • Cries in extreme discomfort during digestion, with gas, or in passing stools
    • Health issues may be a factor for some children. If a child has digestive problems, he may be in so much discomfort that he has little interest in the outside world. Indeed, he may not want to feel his own body, since it is so uncomfortable. In this case, social interaction is very low priority. Poor digestion and gut problems can seriously impair social development.
  • Other health insults, including vaccine injury and toxic exposures, may impair bonding and other neuro-development.
  • Grieving and loss may affect a child who has lost a sibling, either in prior pregnancies or while in utero. A child who has experienced life-threatening conditions in utero or birth may be in stress. If a mother undergoes extreme stress or grief, a child may carry this imprint as well. A child who has been adopted or fostered may have experienced any or many of the life challenges above. As parents you may know very little or a lot about your child’s history. While a child may not be able to tell her story in words, she conveys the tale countless way through gesture, play and movement.

Somatic therapies and education

Craniosacral therapy addresses structural misalignments to relieve pain and discomfort. I work with holistic family practitioners to evaluate and support health care.

Developmental movement therapy provides sensory-motor integration of the eyes, ear, and other basic sensory systems. Somatic touch helps the tactile system to mature. Children who have somatic and developmental movement therapy are more responsive to faces and voices. When we take the stress loads off the child, we see the awakening of his inner yearning to connect with you and to move out into the world.

At any age your child can benefit from these gentle therapies to make connections with parents, family, friends and others in his world. With articles you can help your baby with body-mind integration from the beginning.

What to expect in a session for your baby



Essential wellness for mother and child  

Body-mind integration from the beginning