The role of attachment in childhood emotional development is imperative, as the bond of attachment in infants to the person who takes care of them, is sometimes said to lay the foundations for all later relationships. Infants want to be near their mothers, and when distressed, they are comforted by their mothers face, voice and touch.
Until some forty years ago it was widely believed that the love for the mother was a direct consequence of the fact that she provided the means to satisfy basic biological needs-she provided food, warmth, physical protection and relief from pain. The most influential version of this approach was probably that of Sigmund Freud, who believed that the terror of infants at their mother's absence is based on the expectation that they would go unfed. Because mothers were seen primarily as a food repository. Freud's view became known as the cupboard theory of mother love (Bowlby,1969,1973).
The cupboard theory has been criticised on several grounds, one being the fact that babies often show great interest in people other than those who feed them. For example infants seem to enjoy being cuddled, smiled at, and played with and there is not one shred of evidence to indicate that babies enjoy peek-a-boo, say, only because it is associated with food.
Concerns such as these led British psychiatrist John Bowlby to argue that infants find this social interaction intrinsically rewarding. For Bowlby infants don't form attachments because they are seeking food or warmth. Instead they are born with social needs, inborn tendencies to seek direct contact with an adult (usually the mother), such behaviour is motivated not only by the pleasures of contact but also by a built in fear of the unknown and unfamiliar which drives both infants and young to huddle with a very familiar object, most likely the ever- present mother.