It’s one of the biggest worries for many mothers: What do I do if I don’t bond with my baby? Well, you’re not alone, if you’re concerned. And there are many tips and tricks for bonding with your baby. Keep in mind, some of these tips cross over into other tips, but that makes them no less useful. Bonding is a two-way street, you will not be able to do it alone, and neither will your baby. You both have to be open to it.
A lot of bonding happens after birth, but so much more continues after you go home with baby. It’s ideal for mom and baby to get to know each other as soon as possible after birth. But, what if you look at this little stranger when they come out, who also happens to be screaming his lungs out, and you aren’t exactly overwhelmed with love? Don’t panic. You’re having a normal reaction, just as normal as that instant love, and there are ways to help with it.
Breastfeeding has a plethora of benefits, which is why so many are people are pro-breastfeeding rights. Not only does it include skin to skin contact, but it also provides reassurance that you will still be there, that you are taking care of his or her needs. Also, breastfeeding releases hormones in the body of the mother that promotes mothering behaviors.
The emotional bond that breastfeeding provides is just as vital as any nutritional benefit that the child receives. It promotes a growing attachment that will continue to play a very important role in the baby’s development.
15 Lots And Lots Of Play!
An attachment bond is a very special, very unique emotional relationship between you and your child as the child’s primary caregiver. One of the best ways to nurture this bond is simply to spend time with your child. Play with them, laugh, and share in your child’s happiness.
Interaction is just as important to your child’s development as sleep and nourishment. When you see that your baby wants to play, relax and have fun, enjoy exchanging smiles, faces, and coos with your infant. All it takes is a simple game of peek a boo or some silly voices to get your baby to interact.
14 Understand Their Cries
Understanding your child’s cries and what they need is a key factor in bonding with your child. Crying is normal for babies, it’s their way of communicating what’s wrong with them. That said, understanding those cries make life easier and makes for better bonding with baby. The cries of a baby all have different tell-tale signs to help differentiate between them.
Hungry cries are sometimes high pitches, desperate, and unrelenting. Sleepy cries are breathy, helpless, and can be soothed easier. Overstimulated cries are often staccato, and can easily turn into laughter or shrieking. And these are just examples. Eventually, telling your child’s various cries apart from one another will be far easier.
13 Love Your Bump
Bonding doesn’t start only when the baby is born, it often begins well before the first cry is wailed. Loving your bump, feeling some attachment, talking to the unborn baby, these all contribute to bonding with your child. How so, you may ask? Well, simple. Everything in pregnancy can affect your baby... Your stress, your diet, your health, all of it.
Pregnancy is a great time to get the jump on building a good, healthy mother to child connection. Pay close attention when your baby kicks, learn the movements, talk to your baby. Also, another plus, getting to know your little one in utero can make labor less overwhelming.
This is no surprise, but the closeness of wearing your baby can promote bonding and attachment in mom and baby. New studies show that the feeling of butterflies that we get when our eyes connect to our baby’s, while they’re next to us in their carrier... It’s not just a feeling. The study shows that all it takes is for mom and baby to make eye contact for a second for their heartbeats to synchronize, almost down to the second.
Our intuition to want to hold our infants and keep them as close as possible is even more beneficial than we once thought. No one needed science to inform us that holding our babies and wearing them is beneficial, but it sure is nice to know that our instinct to keep baby near has a physiological benefit, and not just an emotional one.
11 Skin To Skin Contact
Skin to skin contact has a ton of benefits for both mom and baby, and certainly one of those benefits is bonding. Mom and baby should be together, skin to skin, with baby naked, immediately after birth and as well later. Baby is happier, baby’s temp stays more stable, baby’s heart and breathing is more stable, and their blood sugar is more elevated. Skin to skin contact is good not only for a full term baby, but a preemie as well.
When taken away from the parents, babies show signs of deep distress, and can become too sleepy, lethargic, and can cry in despair. When skin to skin contact happens, the mom and baby exchange sensory information back and forth that encourages and stimulates essential behaviors such as rooting, breathing more naturally, and staying warm.
10 Attachment Parenting
A parenting philosophy that encourages methods that promote the attachment of the mom and baby, not only by maternal empathy and responsiveness but also by bodily closeness and touching, attachment parenting is a very useful tool because, basically, it’s a combination of a lot of these other tips. It involves babyreading, the 7 baby b’s, and parental authority.
Using these methods can help foster closeness with the child, and in doing so, can help encourage bonding. There are some criticisms, mainly due to a shortcoming of the attachment parenting concept. But in general, it can be used as a valuable bonding tool.
When you are relaxed, you are more calm, and when you are calm, you are far more likely to bond with your child. When you release oxytocin, which is released when mom breastfeeds the baby, it helps to relax the mother, and it helps nurture the bond between the mom and baby. This hormone can also be released when the mother is in close contact with baby by massaging the baby.
And besides that, when you are calm, your child senses it and is more likely to be calm as well. When you get worked up, your child is more likely to get upset, which does not promote bonding. Staying calm and relaxing, therefore, can be essential to bonding.
8 Take Care Of Yourself Too
Your little one needs you to be happy too, and you need time to recharge in order to be the best that you can be. If you ever need a break, as someone to help you take over so you can relax and take care of yourself for a bit. Everyone will be in a better mood, and be happier, in the end.
And remember, you will be given a ton of advice, but you don’t have to listen to all of it. Figure out what works for you. And remember that, if this is what you want, going back to work would not harm the bond you have with your child. Just spend as much time with baby whenever you can.
7 Dad, You Can Play too!
Fathers may not be able to breastfeed, but they can do a plethora of other activities with the baby! Dad can cuddle, change, and bathe the baby, he can burp him or her once they’re fed, he can ‘take the night shift’ if you happen to pump, and he can sing, talk in silly voices, play, or be engaging to the child in other ways.
Having dad’s support can help relieve your exhaustion, and can reduce the risk of postpartum depression, which helps you in your bonding. It also encourages bonding between baby and daddy, and that is very, very important.
6 Make Eye Contact
The gaze of a loving parent can determine more than you think. Every child yearns for eye contact from their parents for healthy emotional development to happen. This gaze plays a very crucial role in how we develop our empathy, which can play a large role in bonding.
The first weeks of a child’s life help set the stage for the relationship, and this time where the eye to eye contact is so crucial is known as birth bonding. It’s not instant, it’s the start of a lifelong process. And as the most important person on your child’s medical team, you can use this as a way to connect to your newborn.
5 Infant Massage
Infant massage is a great way for the parents to learn about parenting, and the infant can learn about being held and loved. It’s an interaction that can form a foundation for a relationship that will last the rest of your lives. This touch between parent and child can enrich physiological, socio-emotional, and mind/spirit connections for the child.
Touch is important for the development of attachment, and for early social development of the young child as well. The original infant/parent bond is important for infants because it’s from this original attachment that all other attachments will follow.
4 Sense Of Smell
If you’ve heard of aromatherapy, you’ll understand this. Most babies are soothed by lavender and eucalyptus oils, along with your smell as well. Yes, babies know you, the mother and father, from your scent. You can dab a small drop of essential oil on the outside of the baby’s pajama’s in order to help calm a crying baby. And a calmer baby, as we’ve seen, is a baby that is more open to bonding with the parents.
3 Stop Trying To Be ‘Perfect’
Don’t try and be the perfect parent, because, despite popular belief, we all mess up on occasion. If bonding isn’t going well, you can get creative about it. Lay beside the baby on the floor and talk, sing, whisper, or read to the baby. You can use any opportunity to touch and play with the baby, and make any moment open for bonding.
And if you don’t feel a reaction, don’t worry too much. Some parents say they don’t fall in love with their baby until the baby starts staring back into their eyes, which doesn’t happen until 2 months of age. So you have time.
2 Talk To Baby
Talking to the baby is not only a good way to bond with the baby, not only before the baby is born, but after as well. When pregnant, sometimes talking to the baby bump humanizes the baby more for the expectant mother, and helps create a bond while the child is still in utero.
Also, talking to your baby once born about what is happening around them can also foster bonding. Before you pick them up, tell them mommy is going to pick you up now. Helping the child associate words with actions can help the child learn to anticipate what is going to happen as you build a bond of trust.
1 Make Diaper Changes Fun
Diaper changes aren’t all gross and nasty. Ok, so they’re not roses, but they can serve a higher purpose: Bonding. It’s a time when your baby learns self-awareness skills and social skills, and it is a time for the baby to have you all to themselves. You can also massage baby during changes, and create a positive diapering experience by tickling the baby, talking to him or her, or by blowing bubbles on their belly! (That one is a household favorite here!)
If you are concerned, of course, speak to your child’s pediatrician, but remembering to keep yourself calm and not stressed is certainly a big factor in bonding. Take a break if you need to, and find special baby and me activities. Bonding is a special, beautiful thing, and the payoff is totally worth it.