Establishing Trust With Your Infant

By Josh Lockhart, PHEc

According to Barbara and Philip Newman infants (birth to two years old) experience the psychsocial crisis of Turst vs Mistrust. A psychosocial crisis is a predictable life tension during a certain stage in life. Psychosical in this sense draws to the point that the crisis is due to societal and cultural influences as well as psychological. Crisis in this sense refers to a normal stressor instead of an extraordinary event.

It is a crisis, in that an infant will either develop trust like attributes or will develop attributes of mistrust.  It is amazing that it is at this young age that this is when trust is first developed.

For infants trust is more than a summary of the past, it is an emotion.  It is a state of confidence that their needs will be met and that they have value to their parents.  Mistrust develops in an infant when they are wary, lack confidence in their parent, and doubt their loevableness. If mistrust develops it provides the foundation for negative perspectives of oneself and the world around.

So what can parents do to make sure that their child comes out of victorious in this psychosocial crisis, and that is they develop trust.  Here are a just some ideas to win the battle over mistrust:

Cuddle your infant. Take the time to wrap them in a blanket and snuggle them.

Respond to your infant’s cries.  Nothing has agitated me more when talking to the individuals of a new born, and they say “we don’t want to spoil our child so we will let them cry it out.” No! Respond to your child. Go through the motions of giving them a bottle, changing their diaper, burping them or whatever so they know that you are there for them.

Sing to your child.  Or do an activity similar that helps your child feel safe, secure and comfortable.

Tell your infant that you love them.  While their comprehension and expression of language is minimal, children do pick up on emotions and feelings that are expressed behind words.

Have routines. While it is important to let your infant, especially in the early months, maintain their own routine. As they get older and are awake for longer periods of time, develop routines, and more than just bedtime routines.  This helps the infant know what to expect and what is expected of them.

These are just a couple of examples of how you can soothe your infant so you can develop trust and have a relationship with your infant, there are other activities that work.  Some indicators that what you are doing is creating trust is when they are smiling, cooing, maintain eye-contact or are comfortable when being cuddled.

Please do know that all infants do experience some forms of mistrust while in their developmental stage.  What is important is that trust is experience more often than mistrust.


Josh Lockhart works for the College of the Rockies in Kimberley BC. He is also a columnist with the Battleford’s News Optimist and a Co-Author with Notes On Parenting. Josh is currently a counselling graduate student at Gonzaga University.