Bonding with a newborn baby in the hours, days, and weeks after birth is as important as ever. Bonding gives baby security and self-esteem and helps us as parents feel more connected with this squishy new addition. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of bonding activities you can do to develop your relationship with your little one.
Actively Engage with Them
Did you know that as soon as 8 weeks, your baby can distinguish between your and your partner’s parenting styles? Babies are very aware of and sensitive to what’s going on around them.
Of course, bottle feeding them is a great way to spend quality time, especially if you talk to them them, hold them, and make plenty of eye contact. If that’s not an option, here are a few more ways to get those bonding hormones going:
- Play with them, with tickles, nuzzles and other gentle, slow movements
- Engage them with toys, books, singing songs, and other mental stimulation
- Touch them with gentle massages, tummy rubs, and baths
- Change more diapers, pick out their clothes, and provide more general nurturing care
Relationships are built over time and the best way to build one is to spend more active time developing it. Soon, you’ll get to know baby’s cries, what sounds they like, and what makes them respond.
Skin to Skin Contact
There is so much to be said about the benefits of skin-to-skin contact that we wrote an entire article about it. To sum it up, though, laying with your mostly naked baby on your bare chest is a sure way to develop a deeper connection with your little one. Their soft skin and tiny little bodies have a way of reminding us how much they need us even when it seems like we don’t exist beyond being the designated diaper-changer. Plus, skin-to-skin contact releases a bunch of hormones that go a long way in solidifying bonds between baby and parent.
Carry Them Everywhere
You may have heard the concept of the Fourth Trimester, or the idea that the first 3 months of baby’s life is a rapid period of development and confusion for your little one. Going from only knowing the womb to the big, wide world is overwhelming and difficult to understand.
One way to make their world smaller and safer is to carry them everywhere. Called babywearing, many believe that keeping baby against your body via a sling or front carrier can give baby that snug feeling of being back in the womb. It also places them against your chest, allowing them to hear your heartbeat – a very familiar sound to them.
For you, their familiar warmth and sweet baby scent go a long way in revving up those feel-goods and protective hormones that help you bond. And, you have use of both your hands while keeping them close. Whether or not your baby likes to be worn is another question, and one you’ll have to answer for yourself.
Having a Hard Time Bonding with Baby?
Whether or not you carried your newborn to term, sometimes bonding with your baby can be tough. Mom’s experience in particular with birth can have a big impact on her ability to immediately bond, and the struggles of becoming a parent overnight can overwhelm.
There’s nothing wrong with you if you do not feel an immediate connection to your baby. Give yourself the grace and space to build that bond over time as you both adjust to this strange new world. If you continue to struggle, reach out for help. There is strength and bravery in knowing you could use a guiding hand and choosing to take it.
As you and baby grow, so will your bond together. You’ll learn their smiles, their upsets, and what you mean to them as caregivers and guides in this sometimes crazy world. Pretty soon, you’ll walk through that door after a long day at work and they’ll look up and smile at you, and it will all be worth it.