Expert Articles

How to Establish a Sense of Security in Infants and Toddlers

Author: Ms. Gigi Pang
Registered Counselling Psychologist at Edge Development Centre

Establishing a sense of security in infants and toddlers is undoubtedly an important task that all parents must address when welcoming new life. The establishment of a sense of security in infants and toddlers not only has a significant impact on their physical and mental development but also has profound implications for their future interpersonal relationships and self-worth formation.

According to psychologist Erik Erikson’s theory of psychosocial development, human growth involves experiencing multiple stages, each with its own unique characteristics and crises. During the infancy and toddlerhood stages (from birth to 1 year), the focus of a child’s development is on establishing trust and a sense of dependence, which form the foundation of their physical and mental growth. From a physiological perspective, infants and toddlers are completely reliant on the external world and require sufficient sleep and nourishment. On a psychological level, they need a secure environment to develop trust in the world. If the care infants and toddlers receive is stable, predictable, and reliable, they will perceive the world as safe and secure. Additionally, they will learn to trust caregivers and establish trusting relationships with others, which will help them feel safe even in the face of future threats. Conversely, if the care is unstable or if infants and toddlers experience neglect or rejection, they will feel fear, doubt, and a lack of trust. This can lead to a loss of confidence in the world around them and difficulty establishing trusting relationships with others in the future.

Three methods contribute to establishing a sense of security in infants and toddlers:
  1. Provide stable and reliable care
    Parents or caregivers can establish a stable daily routine, such as a schedule for feeding, sleeping, and playtime, to help infants and toddlers develop predictability and a sense of security. At the same time, parents or caregivers should respond consistently and reliably to the needs of infants and toddlers. For example, when an infant or toddler cries, parents or caregivers should respond promptly to demonstrate that they are dependable and trustworthy individuals.
  2. Provide physical contact and emotional bonding
    Parents or caregivers can establish an emotional connection with infants and toddlers through hugs, kisses, and gentle rocking. This will help infants and toddlers develop a sense of security and trust and contribute to the development of healthy interpersonal relationships as they grow.
  3. Establish parent-child interaction time
    Spending quality time and engaging in intimate interactions with children helps build a parent-child relationship. Patiently addressing and resolving children’s issues allows them to feel that caregivers are reliable, enabling them to gain confidence in exploring the world. Additionally, respecting children’s emotions and opinions is crucial, as it helps them develop positive self-esteem, which is beneficial for their personal growth in the future.

Providing a loving and caring environment contributes to establishing a child’s sense of security. Spending time with children enhances their trust in the people around them and the world. Caregivers should also keep their promises and avoid making commitments they cannot fulfill. By making children feel protected when needed and instilling confidence in them to explore the world, caregivers can establish a sense of security in children.


  • Erikson, E. (1950/1963). Childhood and society (2nd ed.). New York, NY: W. W. Norton.
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How to Establish a Sense of Security in Infants and Toddlers