Love Thy Baby: Breastfeeding and Its Relation to Infant Attachment Security

By Spreeha Debchaudhury.

Published by The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: August 26, 2014 $US5.00

A popular assumption among authors is that breastfeeding promotes a strong relationship between mother and baby. Publications on the topic often make unsubstantiated claims about the positive effects of breastfeeding on a maternal bond with the infant or on the attachment of the infant to his or her mother. This notion is so pervasive that mothers report improvement of their relationship with their infants, rather than health or developmental effects as their main reason for breastfeeding. A UK study by Murphy (recently reviewed by Jansen et al.) found that those intending to bottle-feed were more commonly accused of being poor mothers—an attitude likely to cause inordinate stress and guilt in those who are unable to breastfeed for whatever reason. This paper reviews the existing empirical scientific literature, and argues that there is not enough evidence to support the claim that breastfeeding has a significant advantage over bottle-feeding on infant attachment security, positing mediating factors such as maternal sensitivity and overall dyadic interaction quality, as well as an effect of demographic variables such as socioeconomic status and race, particularly the influence of cultural beliefs and childrearing practices on both breastfeeding initiation/duration and attachment security outcomes.

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Keywords: Psychology, Cognitive Science, Social Welfare

The International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social and Community Studies, Volume 8, Issue 2, October 2014, pp.53-59. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: August 26, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 350.086KB)).

Spreeha Debchaudhury

Student, College of Letters and Sciences, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA

Spreeha Debchaudhury is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, with a double major in Cognitive Science and Psychology. She has held research assignments in diverse departments since her sophomore year, from Ethnic Studies to New Media to Anthropology to Psychology. This spring, she was one of the coordinators of the first undergraduate symposium at Berkeley on the intersections of science and society, "(Un)Certain Boundaries," and is currently exploring graduate school options in cognition, brain, and behavior. She is also currently involved as a research assistant in two projects, one on animal cognition and the other on infant development.