Any of the following conditions occurring to a baby during the first 36 months of life puts them at risk: Unwanted pregnancy Pre-birth exposure to trauma, drugs or alcohol Abuse (physical, emotional, sexual) Neglect (not answering the baby’s cries for help) Separation from primary caregiver (i.e. Illness or death of mother or severe illness or hospitalization of the baby, or adoption On-going pain such as colic, hernia or many ear infections Changing day cares or using providers who don’t do bonding Moms with chronic depression Several moves or placements (foster care, failed adoptions) Caring for baby on a timed schedule or other self-centered parenting
High Risk Signs in Infants Does not use crying appropriately to get someone to address needs Often does not settle when needs are met by Mom (primary caregiver) Overreacts or often startles to touch, sound and/or light Listlessness with no medical reason (infant depression) Limited holding onto or reaching for caregiver Lack of appropriate stranger anxiety between 6 and 9 months of age Poor sucking response Does not smile back or respond with activity to smiles or baby talk Developmental delays Poor eye contact, lack of tracking Self abusive behavior (head banging- self biting- hair pulling) Is resistant to cuddling (stiff)
Keys to Bonding High Risk Babies
Every minute you invest holding your child, smiling into their eyes is 1 HOUR less pain when they are teens. If mom must be away four or more hours a day, she must hire someone for the baby to bond to. This person becomes primary and must remain in the baby’s life for the first three years to prevent a bonding break during this crucial time.
Always hold bottle (NEVER prop it) Carry the baby in a snugli or fabric carrier on the front, facing mom 4 to 6 hours daily Massage baby 20 minutes each day while smiling and using high voice Hold & rock infant with loving eye contact, smiles and singing or reading in happy "baby talk" each day Feed sweet milk in Mom’s arms with soft eye contact, touch (stroke baby’s face, hold fingers) loving voice Baby should nap daily resting skin to skin on Dad’s chest Baby sleeps with or near parents at night, be careful to avoid falls Do not allow baby to self-feed No "baby carrier," baby is in arms No stroller facing away from Mom No one feeds baby except Mom No one holds baby except for Mom and Dad unless less than 5 min per day Baby must not be left to cry alone for longer than 3 minutes Hold baby facing you-heart to heart No exposure to TV for one full year Delay painful medical procedures, if possible, until child is bonded Play Mozart’s music to soothe baby Respond to baby’s attempts to get your love and attention with joy!!
For more information:
High Risk Children without a Conscience by Magid and McKelvey
Attachment, Trauma, and Healing by Levy & Orlans CWLA press
Hope for High Risk by Foster Cline MD available at ACE 303 674 1910
Holding Time by Martha Welsh MD Simon & Shuster publishing
When Love is Not Enough a guide to parenting children with RAD by N. Thomas
Biography: Nancy Thomas is a Therapeutic Parenting Specialist and has shared her life and home for over 25 years with children with ADD, RAD, ODD, ADHD, Bipolar disorder and Tourette syndrome. Nancy specializes in bonding, conscience development, and self esteem building. Based on her years of hands on experience and high success rate, Nancy has authored a parenting guide, entitled When Love is Not Enough: A Guide to Parenting Children with Reactive Attachment Disorder, which has been well received by parents and professionals. Recognized internationally as one of the leading authorities on parenting emotionally disturbed children, Nancy was asked to join several esteemed attachment professionals in co-authoring The Handbook of Attachment Interventions, published internationally 1999 by Academic Press.