Dr. Caron B. Goode
The bonding period for you and your baby begins long before birth. As your baby grows and develops within you, the special relationship between you and your child is already beginning to form. This special relationship, full of intense emotion, a deep sense of connection and a strong attachment is what drives a mother to feed her baby in the middle of the night or comfort her when she’s crying. This same bond waters the roots of trust and open communication with your baby and teaches him or her that she is loved, valued and respected.
While some new moms may feel instantly attached to their babies immediately following their birth, other moms need a bit more time to adjust to their new role and physically, emotionally and hormonally recover from their birthing experience.
Wherever you are on your bonding journey, it’s important to know that bonding is a process and not an end result. Each day you respond to your baby’s needs, gaze into her eyes, or shower her with your love and affection, your bond is growing deeper, wider and more intense.
As you learn to interact with your baby, use these 20 tips that can you grow your bond with your baby.
Bonding with Your Baby
1) Bond through Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding promotes closeness between a mother and baby. When you breastfeed your baby you’re guaranteed to hold your baby close 8 to 18 times per day. If you’re able, consider breastfeeding your baby.
2) Bond through Touch
Your baby will respond to the warmth of your touch. Skin to skin contact will also help your baby feel secure, stay warm and promote bonding. Lay your baby against your chest and cover your baby with a lightweight blanket.
3) Bond through Eye Contact
Your baby will gaze into your eyes for hours. Your newborn will typically see you best when your face is about one foot away from her body. When feeding your baby, make faces, smile and look into your baby’s eyes to promote bonding.
4) Bond through Sounds
Your baby loves your voice. Sing and talk to your baby often. Your voice is a familiar sound to your baby and your baby will feel comforted by hearing you sing or speak. Your baby will also be soothed if you lay him on your chest with his head near your heart. The familiar sound of your heartbeat will relax your baby.
5) Bond through Responding to Needs
Simply picking up your baby when she cries or feeding your baby when he’s hungry will promote bonding and trust. As you learn your baby’s language, you’ll notice that different cries mean different things and you’ll be able to meet your baby’s needs more quickly.
6) Bond through Baby Wearing
Wearing your baby is a safe way to carry your baby close. Wearing your baby promotes trust and a sense of security in your baby and helps to stimulate him with sound and motion.
7) Bond through Infant Massage
Massaging your baby is a natural way to improve your baby’s physical and emotional health. When a mother massages her baby her body releases oxytocin, a hormone which helps her to relax and bond with her baby. Set aside a few minutes each day to physically connect with your baby though massage.
8) Bond through Repetition
Doing something over and over again helps your baby to process information and to learn about her world. Repetition also instills a sense of safety and security in your baby which promotes bonding.
9) Bond through Routine
Babies thrive when they have a routine because they like knowing what comes next. Routines help babies feel safe and secure which fosters the bond of trust. Establish a solid bedtime routine to help your baby get a good night’s sleep.
10) Bond through Smell
In addition to your smell, most babies are soothed by the scents of lavender and eucalyptus essential oils. Dab a drop of essential oil on the outside of your baby’s pajamas to help calm a fussy baby.
11) Bond through Books
Sharing a picture book with your baby promotes an emotional connection and stimulates a positive interaction. Look for colorful picture books or books with pictures of babies faces to share with your baby.
12) Bond through Baths
Babies love soothing, warm water and taking a bath together can be a relaxing way to connect and bond with your baby. Make bath time a part of your bedtime routine.
13) Bond through Play
Playing simple games with your baby promotes a joyful interaction. Try capturing your baby’s attention by playing peek-a-boo during diaper changes.
14) Bond through Observation
Take time to get to know your baby by observing how she interacts with her world. Take note of how he moves and the sounds he makes. Taking time to learn about your baby will help you to understand the unique person he was created to be.
15) Bond through Snuggling
Hold your baby often and embrace times of simply snuggling together. Being together, uninterrupted, is a natural way to bond with your baby.
16) Bond through Dance
Babies love to be swayed and gently rocked to the sounds of music. Hold your baby close and gently twirl around the room. It’s a natural way to create a physical and emotional closeness with your baby.
17) Bond through Talk
Talk your baby though what’s happening around him. Before you pick him up, tell him Mommy is going to pick you up now. Helping him to associate words with actions will help your baby anticipate what’s going to happen next as you build a bond of trust.
18) Bond through Feeding
As you feed your baby, interact with your baby. Talk, make faces, sing songs or engage him in a babbling conversation. You’ll see your baby begin to copy the things you do as your relationship grows and develops.
19) Bond through Diapering
Engage your baby during diaper changes and create a positive experience by tickling your baby, talking to your baby or by blowing raspberries on your baby’s belly.
20) Bond through Self-care
Taking care of yourself will allow you to feel good about yourself and your new role. It will also help you have the energy you need to bond with your baby. Sleep when your baby sleeps, eat healthy and connect with those in your support system. Take time each day to get your shower and ask for help when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
The mother/child bond doesn’t magically appear. The magic happens over the course of time you spend lovingly caring for your baby. Like any relationship, nurturing it, prioritizing it and embracing it will help it successfully grow and develop.
10 Tips to Help Dad Bond with Baby
- Encourage dad to take part in feedings
- Teach dad to change diapers
- Suggest a daily activity that’s reserved for daddy and baby only
- Give dad and baby some time alone
- Encourage stroller walks with baby
- Give dad the nightshift
- Encourage dad to go to with you to your baby’s checkups
- Let dad give baths
- Buy dad a baby pack to wear baby
- Cheer dad on as he tries to soothe a crying baby
Dr. Goode is a licensed counselor, author of a dozen books, and educational trainer. She is the founder of and serves on the faculty of the Academy for Coaching Parents International (www.acpi.biz). She has recently co-authored (with Tara Paterson), the award-winning book, Raising Intuitive Children and Nurture Your Child’s Gift.