If there’s one thing that any mother wants, it’s to develop a great bond with the baby. After all, beginning a strong relationship early on means that the little one will be more open to mom as a child and, hopefully, even as a teen. And given that it’s a dangerous, sometimes scary world out there, all moms want to make sure that their children will be the first to tell them if something’s up.
But any scholar of the psychiatric school of logotherapy might tell you that, sometimes when you try too hard to do something, you just might fail to do it. Which is exactly what happens to many moms in their attempt to bond with the baby.
Because of this, there are quite a lot of bonding boo-boos that mom can make. After all, with the many possibilities and many choices there are to make in a single day, it’s hard to tell which one, exactly is the right thing to do. Fortunately for mom, a little mistake here and there won’t exactly have a large impact on the baby. After all, our own parents weren’t perfect, and most of us have turned out quite alright!
Still, it’s best to be at least a little bit aware of the things that parents must at least try to avoid during the early bonding years. To help out, we’ve compiled a short list of some of the common mistakes that moms often make, as well as the correct alternatives!
15 Not Starting Early
Bonding with the baby has to start early. And we mean really early! In fact, the best time that mom can start is during the pregnancy. This may seem a bit unnecessary because pregnancy is probably the closest that mom and the little one can get! But, remember, bonding right after birth may not always be possible. Mom may be too tired to do anything but feed the baby, or she may experience postpartum depression which requires her to take little breaks from motherhood.
As such, mom might want to begin before then. It’s fairly easy. Talking to the baby bump is one good way to do it, as babies begin to hear sound at about 18 weeks! Touching the baby, especially when she’s kicking around, also allows the little one to be aware that there’s someone out there to interact with! Finally just meditating and feeling the little one inside can help strengthen that bond!
14 Underestimating Ritual
For the busy mom, it can be difficult enough to carve out time for the little one. And so mom might get to bond with the baby haphazardly, at different times of the day, doing different things. On the surface, there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, the best time to give to the little one is whatever time mom is fully focused on her.
But it’s important, also, to understand the power of ritual. Ritual can mean doing specific things at certain times in the day, such as reading the baby a bedtime story each night. (Trust us, even if the little one can’t quite understand yet, it’s a wonderful way to bond with her.) It can also mean short, ordinary things such as giving her a small hug session when mom comes home from work, or even bath-time tickles. These rituals may not seem like much, but with constancy, they build the bond between mom and child in magnificent ways.
13 Ignoring Self Care
In any parent’s attempt to build her relationship with the baby, there are times when she can ignore taking care of herself. After all, isn’t parenting just a lot of sacrifice. Maybe, but it isn’t going to help that much. It’s easy to feel tired and resentful, after all, when mom hasn’t gotten enough sleep or is only eating junk food to get by.
As such, it’s important for mom to set some time aside for herself as well. And, yes, this does mean that she will need time away from the little one every once in a while. The grandparents, dad or a babysitter will certainly oblige to look after the baby at this time, even if it’s only an afternoon at the spa! This is especially important if mom is going through emotional stress. And it can be difficult to admit that she wants to get away from it all, even for a short while. But let us be the first to say to her: Go out, recharge and get back to being a responsible parent. It’s perfectly fine.
12 Being Possessive
Moms often like to think that they’re at the center of their baby’s world. Only, sometimes when the baby begins to interact with other people and actually has fun, it may feel that that’s not quite the case. Some moms may even feel this kind of jealousy in their baby’s interaction even with their own husband! This is valid as an emotion, of course, because mom will understandably be protective of her baby.
When it borders on the possessive, however, and she actually physically keeps the little one from her own husband or from her parents-in-law, or if she starts to teach that “mom is my favorite,” it can actually be a problem. After all, these are people with whom the little one also needs to interact with. They are, after all, family. So sometimes it might be best to just swallow the discomfort and just allow the baby to be with other people. If they’re not harming her, it’s probably fine.
11 Overestimating Quality Time
Don’t get us wrong: quality time is great. After all, any baby would feel wonderful if mom managed to do something extra special to spend time with her. But quality time is overrated. Instead, mom should focus on giving the baby quantity time. Tiny little acts of togetherness can build up and allow mom and the little one to bond better, at least over big vacation times when there are plenty of things planned. We therefore encourage mom, when she finds herself with a bit of free time that she can spare, to go ahead and spend it with the little one.
This is not to say, of course, that she shouldn’t aim for a big vacation or bonding session every once in a while. But while occasional big treats are wonderful, most relationships are built upon the small stuff. Whether just cuddling, tickling or reading a story, baby is sure to appreciate it too!
10 Fear Of Spoiling
Plenty of parents mistakenly believe that picking up the baby a little too often will spoil her. But let’s get real. A baby crying is different from a toddler throwing a tantrum. Sure, there are times when the little one seems to cry for absolutely no reason at all. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to hurt to pick her up to give her some comfort.
Early in life, babies still do not understand the world the same way a toddler would. Many of their perceptions are still based on whatever they’re feeling, be it hunger, discomfort, amusement or pain. And they will react accordingly. In the end, parents do know their kids best and if there is really nothing else that can comfort the baby, mom and dad are at the liberty to let the little one cry it out. However, if the only thing holding you back is the fear of spoiling the baby, it’s a pretty bad reason to leave her alone.
9 Being Too Protective
Mom will naturally, and understandably, want to keep her little one safe and sound all the time. And we do agree that babies need a lot of extra care. As such, we definitely nod our heads in agreement to the mom who keeps sick people away from her kids, or who sterilizes all feeding equipment religiously, or who nervously checks on the little one in the middle of the night to make sure she hasn’t fallen victim to SIDS or something horrible like that. But there are instances in which mom can go a little too far.
Some moms wake their baby up if she’s been asleep for too long to feed her (“she’s supposed to feed every two hours!) or because, you know, so nothing bad happens in her sleep. While that is more of an annoyance than a cause for actual damage, overprotectiveness can spiral towards an unhealthy relationship later on.
8 Not Getting The Cues
Babies may be babies, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t communicate before they can talk! In fact, many studies show that babies can actually understand quite a lot before they even say their first word! They can, for instance, detect emotions with extraordinary accuracy. They can also detect patterns in their routines, and might want to have a say if they want something different.
As such, it’s important to learn the little one’s own private language. Often, moms who pay enough attention can “get” what the little one is feeling or is trying to say quite intuitively. However, this often means getting rid of presumptions about what she thinks the little one wants and just listen to her, so to speak. For those willing to go the extra mile, look up baby sign language, a simple but awesome way in which many moms have managed to communicate with their less-than-one-year-old kids.
Babies can be frustrating. That’s a fact. The little one might keep on throwing her food or pushing things off the table in a manner that would shame the house cat. But it’s important to remember that the standard methods of disciplining kids doesn’t apply to babies. Even if the little one might understand that what they’ve done was somehow undesirable to the parent, this is a bad foundation for a relationship with the little one. Don’t get us wrong: negative reinforcement does work. But parents should learn baby psychology 101 before they start yelling their heads off at a 6-month old.
In fact, even for older babies and toddlers, outright punishment is discouraged. It’s best off to allow them to face the consequences of their actions, things that are directly connected to what they did. This allows them to understand the problem better and have a deeper understanding of right and wrong.
6 Forgetting Discipline
On the flip side, some just want to be the “cool mom.” Because sometimes a mom just wants to be genuinely liked by her children. As such, she’ll forget that she actually has to discipline the child just in order to please her. But it’s important to keep in mind that it’s not a mom’s job to be liked. It’s her job to take care of her kids, even if it sometimes will mean that she’s not all too pleasant.
With babies, this can be particularly difficult though, if only because they’re sometimes they’re just so adorable. But it’s sometimes essential to just make sure that the baby doesn’t play with dangerous things or, perhaps, to teach her how to share. As long as mom is consistently firm with specific things and gentle with others, the baby will begin to understand the basic rules of the household while still maintaining a good bond with mom.
5 Reprimanding Negativity
Let’s face it: positivity is overrated. Of course, if you’re going around miserable or angry all week, chances are that something is wrong. But our society seems to have an inordinate aversion to negative emotions. As such, we fail to acknowledge the fact that having and acknowledging negative emotions is actually quite healthy. In fact, we become generally happier if we don’t force ourselves into a positivity bubble. Because, then, we actually have the courage to face things that are unpleasant.
And this sort of training starts early on. If the baby is grumpy or weepy about something, if it can’t be addressed, just let her be grumpy or weepy about it. She’ll come around soon enough. This is important with bonding because a child is less likely to be open to a parent who does not acknowledge her emotions, including the negative ones. Listening to even this will help a child feel understood.
4 Encouraging Dependency
As the baby gets older, she’s going to slowly learn how to become more independent. She’ll, first, learn to crawl and then walk, say her first word and then speak. And before mom knows it, she’ll be out the door going to preschool. A good chunk of motherhood is letting go. And letting go is sometimes painful. So some moms try to hold that off for as long as possible.
In some cases, it can even be unhealthy. Some moms will keep the baby from doing things that will make her more independent, just so she can remain nice and dependent on mom for everything. But while this might be great for mom’s short-term well-being, it’s going to be a nightmare when the child grows up and still hasn’t gotten over her reliance on mom and dad. It is possible to help the child being independent while supporting her and nurturing a loving relationship. Aim for that.
3 Forgetting Dad
In mom’s attempt to build a great bond with the little one, she might forget that the baby has to build one with dad as well! After all, one-sided parenting is unhealthy. Unless, of course, one parent is abusive, in which case it’s probably best off to keep the child away from the abusive parent. But if you consider a healthy relationship, it’s important that mom and dad both get to spend some time with the kid.
And it can be easy for mom to hog all the attention. After all, for breastfeeding alone, the little one is dependent on her for practically one thing. Not to mention the fact that she carried her through the entire pregnancy. What every parent must remember, however, is that they’re not just building a bond between the kid and their own self. They’re also building a family bond, which would do well to go stronger as the child grows up!
2 Parenting Alone
Sometimes, for the sake of building a bond with the kid, mom might attempt to do much of the parenting all by herself. After all, she might think, what sort of mom asks someone else to change her own kid’s diapers for her when she can do that perfectly! Or, alternatively, she might think that the best way to build a bond with the child is by exclusively breastfeeding, even if it’s totally inconvenient.
But forcing herself to do everything a certain way is likely to backfire on her. After all, trying to do everything perfectly all by herself can be exhausting, especially if time and resources are against her. As such, mom must try to make sure that she gets help whenever necessary. It’s also good to know that the old adage “it takes a village to raise a child” applies here. By no way is her bond with the baby affected if she occasionally gets some help!
1 Making It A Chore
Finally, one thing that mom should avoid is to make bonding with the baby just another thing on the to-do list. A chore, if you will. While it’s important to carve out time for the baby, it shouldn’t be forced or mechanical. After all, mom will want to look forward to bonding sessions, not dread them!
Bonding with the baby should be fun. However, this can be challenging, considering that mom will have to do it every day. It’s hard to force fun, after all. But sometimes, it just requires a little bit of creativity to take bonding time up one level. Songs during bath-time, little monologues while changing the diapers, feel-good cuddling while feeding can all make mom and the little one enjoy their time together better. But if all else fails, it’s OK to occasionally just hold the little one or go through the established rituals. The fun can wait for next time.