For some parents, bonding begins in utero, and for some it happens instantly at birth. For others, it can take a few days for things to settle down enough for the bonding process to really begin, and some parents may find it takes a bit longer.
There are plenty of ways you can encourage the bonding process between yourself and your baby, here are a few tried and tested techniques:
- Skin to skin – touch is a great way to bond with your baby. Research has found that skin to skin contact helps babies by regulating breathing, stimulating digestion, regulating body temperature, and stimulating feeding behaviour. It has been found to help mothers relax, and to trigger the hormones of breastfeeding. Make sure you spend some time enjoying skin to skin contact.
- Alone time – there’s probably a line of friends and family queuing up outside your door, but try to postpone them by a few days. Spend a some time bonding as a new family, and getting used to each other before you invite other people to meet your newborn.
- Use your voice – your baby recognises your voice from his time in the womb. You may have noticed that, even at just a few hours old, he will turn his head to you whenever he hears you talk. The sound of your voice might even be enough to soothe him when he cries, so make the most of this ability and chat away throughout the day.
- And your ears – talking is great, but listen, too. Your baby might not be able to talk just yet, but that doesn’t mean he’s not communicating. He may smile when happy, shy away when he doesn’t want a massage, or suck his thumb when he’s hungry. Through these actions, he is communicating with you. By learning to interpret your baby’s early attempts at communication, you can help him to learn the value of communicating – something you’ll be thankful of in the future. You may also learn to pick up on his early feeding cues, and be able to feed him before he starts to cry from hunger.
- Feeding time – mealtimes are the perfect time to bond with your baby. If you’re breastfeeding, feed as often as your baby indicates he would like to. Feed frequently, and make eye contact with and talk to him as you do. The hormones associated with breastfeeding are said to encourage the bonding process too. If you’re bottle feeding, you can still use feeds as valuable bonding time. Talk to and make eye contact with your baby throughout the feed. Some parents decide that only they will feed their baby, to stop visitors from stealing that valuable bonding opportunity.
- Close enough to kiss – you may have noticed that your newborn cries whenever he is put down, that’s because he wants to be close to you. Using a sling is a great way of keeping everyone happy. You’re happy because you have your hands free to get on with other things, and the baby is happy because he knows he’s safe with you. Dad can get in on the babywearing action too – it’s a great way for him to bond with the baby.
- Massage – massaging your baby is a great way to promote bonding and closeness. You can incorporate a massage into your daily routine. Baby massage may also help to improve your confidence in your mothering abilities as you learn to communicate with your newborn. Massage is also said to help with colic, sleep and wind (gas) in babies. There are baby massage courses across the country that will equip you with the skills and confidence to massage your baby.
How do you plan to bond with your baby?
Written by Fiona, proud owner of a toddler, @fiona_peacock
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2015. All rights reserved.