Bonding is vital for both parents and baby.
You will understand your baby’s hunger cues and will know exactly what they need when they cry as you develop a strong bond.
For babies, they receive a sense of security, which can lead to positive self-esteem as they grow older. Not to mention, they will be able to develop fulfilling intimate relationships as they get older and maintain their emotions easier.
How Babies Bond
Understanding how your baby bonds can help you make a stronger connection. Touch is one of the first ways and is usually done through skin-to-skin contact as soon as a baby is born.
Dads can form a powerful bond with their little one by also partaking in skin-to-skin contact soon after birth.
Eye-to-eye contact is another meaningful form of communication. Whether you breastfeed or bottle feed, you will likely notice your baby staring up at you. Try not to get distracted and just stare at them as well. This will tighten the bond even more.
Another way a baby tried to bond is by imitating your facial expression. For example, if you smile at them, open your mouth like a “wow” expression, or even stick out your tongue. When you notice him doing this, try to keep it going. Some say that babies start doing this around five months old, and others say it can happen sooner. Truth is, every baby is different. When you notice your little one start imitating your faces, it’s time to take advantage of it and start bonding this way.
How You Can Bond as a Mom
Breastfeed (If you can or want)
Breastfeeding isn’t in the cards for everyone, and that’s okay. However, if you can and want to breastfeed, it can significantly improve the bonding process.
Babywear When Possible
You don’t have to be attached to your baby 24/7, but baby wearing is ideal to strengthen your relationship. For example, if you have to do some light cleaning around the house that doesn’t involve bending over too much, you can put your baby in the sling and still be close.
A sling allows you to hold your baby close to you. It’s straps are made to go around your shoulders and waist, depending on the type of sling you purchase, to protect your baby.
Sleep Nearby Your Baby
Having a safe bassinet or crib in your room next to your bed is ideal. Even the American Academy of Pediatrics state there are benefits of room sharing, as long as you do so in a safe manner.
Show Your Baby Love With a Massage
Infant massages can help not only strengthen a bond, but also increase circulation, relax your baby’s muscles, and reduce stress. Quick tip: By giving your baby a 15-minute massage before bed, it can help him fall asleep a bit easier and faster.
Regularly Cuddle Your Baby
Hold or rock your baby a couple times per day at least. This will help make him feel secure.
Respond During Cries
You may not always know what you baby wants, and that’s okay. The fact that you’re responding to his needs builds trust and lets him know you will be there to protect him.
Teach Baby Sign Language
Learning baby sign language can allow your baby to sign when he is hungry or has another need. You can do all this before your baby can speak, and it’s a great way to increase communication to strengthen the child-parent bond.
Dad’s Can Bond Just as Easily, Too
Thankfully dads aren’t left in the dark just because they can’t breastfeed. It’s common to think that a mom is the only one who can bond closely with the baby. Dad can have a close bond as well, but it takes effort (just like with mom).
Keep Baby Close – When feeding a baby, you should hold him close and allow him to stare at you.
Take Turns for Nightly Wake-Ups – It’s inevitable that a tiny baby will wake up in the middle of the night. Have you and your partner take turns waking up each night with the baby so he can get used to both of you being there for him.
Soothe Away Cries – When your baby cries, this is the best time to try and make a bond because when you go to them, they build trust. Try walking around with him if he’s not hungry and doesn’t need to be changed. You can also give him a pacifier, if you use one, or even try singing to him.
Clean and Babywear – When you are picking up the house or even doing light yard work (and the UV rays aren’t high) put baby into a sling so he can be close to you – plus you get stuff done at the same time, win-win!
Take Part in Bedtime Routine – Babies love routine. Whether you sit and read a book or do bath and then pajamas before bed, you should do your best to be part of this routine as often as you can. If you and your partner are going to be involved every night, then pick the parts of the routine you want to do. For example, one of you can do bathtime and the other can do pajamas and read a story. Not only does this develop a strong bond, but babies thrive on routine and bedtime will become easy.
4 Easy Mistakes to Avoid When Trying to Bond with a Baby
#1 – Bonding with a baby must be started early, like right after birth. Some moms may put this off because they are exhausted, which is understandable. A mom who just gave birth and who has been in labor for hours and hours may not want to jump into skin-to-skin. However, it’s important to do so as soon as possible.
#2 – Underestimating Time for Ritual – As a busy mom, it can be hard to manage time to do the household chores, tend to other kids if you have them, other tasks, plus make it a point to sit down and bond with baby. It’s important to think your routine over and see how you can ensure bonding will happen every day without getting too overwhelmed.
#3 – Ignoring Self Care – It’s easy to get caught up with taking care of a baby and completely forgetting about yourself. However, this can soon lead you to feeling resentful and tired. You need self care – everyone does. Whether you ask your partner, parent, grandparent, or another trusted source for some help, you need to get in a bit of self care, even if it’s not that long.
#4 – Fear of Spoiling – It’s common for people to assume you can spoil a baby for holding them too much or picking them up when they cry. Good news: You literally can’t spoil a baby until they are 12 months and up. So, pick them up, cradle them, keep them close, and build that bond!