Imprinting is the evolutionary behavioural process taking place in the early hours of life when baby learns the tactile characteristics of the milking area of the breast through oral fixation and the encoding of the neural image. The search for a suitable object on which to imprint is innate (Mobbs EJ et al).
Displacement to a non–biological super stimulus thumb/dummy may occur when the biological object determined by evolution is unavailable or withheld.
(Freud S 1955, The Interpretation of dreams , Basic books, New York 2010; Mobbs E J et al doi:10.1111/apa.13034)
Latchment is the emotional response to the oral tactile imprint (recognising “mother in the mouth”) and it is the first stage of emotional development. It is a biological instinct and has evolved to protect the infant through the presence of its mother and her unique milk (Mobbs E J et al).
Attachment is the second stage of emotional development appearing some time after 6 months of age when the baby visually (in distinction to orally) recognises its mother (or carer) as a whole person (“mother in the eye”).
“Attachment is a biological instinct, evolved to ensure the survival of the vulnerable young” (Bowlby J, 1969/1982 Attachment and Loss. Vol 1, Attachment. Second edition. London).