Ready Steady Baby


Attachment and bonding during pregnancy

The early relationship you, your partner and family have with your baby’s really important. How you meet their needs and care for them, shapes how their brain develops. This is as true before they’re born as when they arrive.


The way your baby builds these close relationships is called attachment. It lays the foundations for them to feel safe and secure. 

Babies are totally dependent on those who care for them to keep them safe.

When you give your baby responsive care and lots of attention, it will help them manage their feelings and have safe and healthy relationships in the future.

Babies need their carers close at all times. Staying close to your baby will help you notice when they’re trying to communicate with you.

Your baby’s needs are met by forming a close relationship with you. It’s usual for babies to form attachment with any adult in the family group who provides consistent care.

Bonding before birth

Your baby can hear you from at least 16 weeks, and perhaps earlier.

Babies hear their mother’s voices most clearly, but anyone can talk and sing to them – your baby will love to hear from anyone.

This helps your baby:

  • to get to know voices, which will help them feel safe and secure
  • tune up their hearing and get ready for when they will eventually talk

Talking and singing to your baby is also good for their development.

Talk or sing to your baby

Find a quiet time when you and your baby can focus on each other and use a tuneful, sing-song voice.

It doesn’t matter what music or song – if you like it, so will your baby. Never put headphones on mum’s tummy though, as it’s too loud for your baby.

If you feel a bit silly talking to the bump, don’t worry – lots of people do. If you can’t think of anything to say, just chat about the day or share a story.

For tips about reading and singing to your baby before birth, visit the Scottish Book Trust

Read more about building a relationship with your baby after they’re born

Bonding takes time

Parents don’t always feel a great rush of love and bonding straight away. It comes in time.

Many parents have other feelings such as fear along with love, especially if it’s a first baby. It’s what you do that counts.

Attachment and love aren’t the same thing. Some parents love their children but can’t keep them consistently cared for and safe and if that happens it can cause attachment issues. If you’re worried about your safety or your baby’s, tell someone you trust and ask for help.

Further information and other languages and formats

Translations and alternative formats of this information are available from Public Health Scotland.

If you need a different language or format, please contact

Last updated:
15 December 2023