Nowadays, we’re frequently hearing stories and features in the media about how some new mom just hasn’t been able to bond with her baby. According to her she’s tried everything under the sun but it’s just not happening for her. Perhaps she’s dealing from post-partum depression and that’s a contributing factor. For some, it’s the other way around. That indescribable feeling of love, that instant bond is apparent. But over the days and weeks, it’s the baby that just doesn’t seem to have bonded with mom. For expectant mothers, hear stories like this, and it will get them crossing their fingers, hoping that they never have to go through that.
As a mom-to-be, all sorts of things are going to be swirling around in mom's head; different thoughts, emotions etc. Everything’s going to build up and then reach a crescendo as the due date approaches. At this time, she’ll only be preoccupied with getting through the birth, having a safe delivery and a healthy baby. But then, as soon as she holds her baby for the first time, another wave of emotions will hit. It’s at this point that moms describe that instant bond, that instant connection. They might have that feeling with their babies. But does the baby feel the same? Is that feeling of love, that connection, reciprocated? Many would say that it’s automatic, it occurs instantaneously. But how can anyone actually tell whether or not the newborn has bonded with mom? There are things to look out for. Here are 20 signs that the newborn baby has already bonded to mom.
As newborns, babies don’t have many ways of expressing emotions. They’re not going to be able to give a proper smile or laugh. They may follow your facial expressions, but it won’t be a genuine emotion, it’ll just be mirroring yours. But one way they can express how they’re feeling is through touch. Put your finger into your baby’s palm and she’ll grip it tightly. It’s instinctive and it’s called the palmar grasp reflex. This won’t tell you much. But if your baby then becomes calm and appears to be cheering up, it’s done the trick. Skin-to-skin contact always helps when it comes to the bonding stages.
Many moms have a lot of worries when it comes to feeding naturally. Is she going to latch on, am I doing it the right way, how long should I allow her to feed? There’s no set time. Don’t be tempted to pull her away because you think she might have had too much. Extended feeds are a way of her bonding to you, forming that connection. If she’s that comfortable she wants to stay feeding, she may even nod off. Natural feeding can act as a form of pacification. It will calm her down, relax her. It’s a comforting situation for her, so she’s going to want to hang on for as long as possible.
Your newborn will respond to touch but can also respond positively to sound. She’s still very young but her sensory organs are developing quickly. In fact, as soon as she’s born, she’ll be hearing sounds. They’ll sound muffled at first. But it won’t take her long to distinguish between different sounds. It’s also important to remember that babies are born with a fear of loud noises. She’s going to be hearing your voice a lot. Speak to her in a calm, soothing tone, and she’ll learn that this is mommy, and mommy is here to love, care for and sooth her.
Give your baby lots of skin-to-skin contact. It’s vitally important to feel that closeness with your baby, and importantly, for your baby to feel that closeness and bond with you. You’ll get a sense of just how close she feels to you when you pick her up and bring her close to you, perhaps lie down and put her on your chest. You might find that she gets in close and snuggles into you as if you’re the most comfortable thing in her world. If she does this, then that’s probably the case. Snuggling is a way of showing she cares, of showing love and affection.
Babies are going to cry, that’s a given. It’s a big, often intimidating new world for her out there. Everything’s going to be new and can be rather daunting without mommy by her side. She’ll soon learn that crying will bring momma to her side. So, when she cries, she wants something, and she wants mom. Crying for mom is a sure way of her letting you know that wants you, wants your attention, love, and ultimately that she’s comfortable with you and loves you back. She feels safer with you by her side. She craves your touch, your cuddles, and this likely to stop any crying.
Feeding time is vitally important for your little one. She’s going to need regular feeding as she has a lot of growing and developing to do. At this age, her only form of communication is crying. If she’s crying, she’s indicating that she wants something. At this young age, she’s going to be crying regularly because she wants to feed and she wants you. If you notice this, and if she becomes calm as soon as you bring her to you and she latches on, then you know she’s comfortable with you, that she’s bonded. She knows you’re an important figure in her life, not just to love and adore her, but for food too!
It’s about that skin-to-skin contact again. A lot of babies can get restless when they’re lying in their cot, even if mom’s by their side. But as soon as you scoop her up in your arms and bring her close to you, she’s pacified. Bringing her close to you will have that soothing effect. Cradling your little one in your arms will have the same effect. She’ll still be able to feel you, to smell you, but she’ll also be able to look up at you, hear your voice and look at your face. Your face is going to be one of the first things she recognizes in life. All of these things combined should have a calming effect, and if it does, it indicates some bonding has already occurred.
Some moms might be a tad apprehensive when it comes to giving their newborn baby a massage. They’re so cute, they’re so delicate…wouldn’t want to hurt her by accident. Of course, be mindful of the fact that your newborn is delicate and sensitive. But a little massage is a great way to make you both bond. There’s the skin-to-skin contact. But there’s more to it than that. Massaging will have the effect of releasing the feel-good hormone oxytocin. So, when getting massaged, the likelihood is that she’ll enjoy it, physically but psychologically too. She’ll associate this feel-good feeling with mommy and it’ll help you bond.
Babies don’t have many ways of communicating with you. One way that they can let you know all is well is by looking peaceful. If she’s looking up at your face with a peaceful, relaxed expression, it indicates that she’s comfortable. It’s her way of letting you know that she loves you. As newborns, babies don’t yet know what smiling is, what it indicates, what emotions it conveys. But, if you’re pulling faces, are regularly smiling, and then you see a hint of a smile on her face, it shows that she’s mirroring you, that she likes your facial expression and wants to learn from you, do the same thing. This is another form of bonding.
To newborns, everything is going to be new and fascinating. It’s a big new world to them and there are plenty of things to discover. You’re going to be a major source of fascination for your little one. If she’s bonded with you, if she cares, she’s going to want to know all about you, the most important person in her life. Eventually, her interest is going to move onto other things, perhaps toys, perhaps new people. You become not-so-new, a source of comfort. But if she’s still interested, if she still follows you around with her gaze, responds positively to your touch and the sound of your voice, it shows she’s well and truly bonded.
This ties into the whole fascination thing. From the moment she’s born, your baby is going to be fascinated by you. You’re going to be the first thing she sees and she’s going to continue seeing a lot of you. It won’t take her long to recognize your face, your smell, your touch. She’s going to learn a lot through doing this too. One thing she’s going to learn is facial expressions. She’ll learn to smile, learn to make other expressions, by copying your face. She’ll look up at your face and would want to explore it, touch it. This shows she’s bonding, that she cares, and that she wants to know a whole lot more about you.
To a newborn, most things are going to constitute a new experience. She’s probably going to encounter new experiences on a daily basis. This might be a new room, new environment, different people, new toys, etc. It’s a big world out there and she’s either going to find it fascinating and want to explore it, or she’ll find it pretty scary. Either way, with a bit of a push from mommy, she’ll be able to deal with anything that comes her way. Eventually she’ll get used to these experiences, will get enjoyment out of them. If she’s happy and calm with new experiences, it’s probably because you’ve been by her side. She’s bonded and is comfortable going through anything because you’re there with her.
Newborns who have just come out of the womb may make eye contact with you but they won’t maintain it. But after around three weeks, your little one is going to find comfort in looking into your eyes. It’s at this stage that she’s going to recognize who you are. She’ll also be able to start picking up on emotions at this stage. It won’t take long for you to realize that these emotions are reciprocated. If you’re looking into her eyes and you’re smiling, are happy, your little one will gaze into yours and is likely to be happy too. When she maintains eye contact with you, wants to look at you, it’s a sure sign that she’s bonded to mom.
Newborn babies are going to do everything possible, use every means possible to explore the world around them. Seeing as you’re a great source of fascination for her, she’s going to do lots of exploring on you. Babies don’t just explore with their hands. They explore with their mouths. After a few months, your baby’s salivary glands are going to begin developing. Cue the wet, slobbery kisses. At this stage, she doesn’t yet know how to swallow. She just uses her sucking reflex. Put her on you and she may attempt to suck, but give you wet kisses in the process.
Ok, so you may be thinking, that as a newborn, she won’t have much choice. If you’re talking to her, she can’t exactly tell you to stop and not listen if she’s not interested. But as previously mentioned, your voice is going to be something she recognizes first. It’s going to be a great source of comfort for her. And she can let you know that she’s not interested. Crying is her way of doing that. But tell her a story in a soft, calming voice for example, and if she listens intently, it shows she’s interested in you, your voice, and is a sure sign that she’s bonded with you.
Of course, newborns aren’t going to be able to talk to you. It’ll take them some time before they learn that. And when they eventually do, how are they going to learn? It’s going to be you that teaches your little one. She’s going to start verbally communicating because you’re doing the same. But before this occurs, your little one is still going to try and communicate with you. She’ll do this mainly through gurgling and making cooing sounds. Of course, they won’t be coordinated. But with practice, she’ll get there. Pretty soon she’ll be telling you just how much she’s bonded to you, how she feels.
If someone loves you and you feel there’s a bond, they generally behave differently around you. This could be because of the way they act, talk, or just look at you. This goes for your baby too. Initially, she might have a little bit of a lost, apprehensive expression on her face when looking up at you. But it won’t take long for her to realize, and for you to realize, that you’re her world. She’ll gaze up at you lovingly with that little smile, will hold you and touch you with love, will snuggle up to you with warmth…that bond is there and you’ll definitely realize it.
Your newborn is going to want to learn about a lot of things. Pretty much everything is going to interest her at that age. Sure, some things might scare her a little. But when she’s growing and developing, she’s going to need a source of comfort. Her mind is quickly going to learn that she needs you to be by her side, that you’re that source of comfort. So naturally, she’s going to want to know all about you. Don’t think she’ll just take you for granted. If that bond is there, she’ll want to learn about you and explore you.
Believe it or not, separation anxiety is an actual thing. It won’t occur at the newborn stage though. If it occurs, it’s likely to happen down the line at some point, perhaps around the seven-month mark. But even before this, your baby could develop something resembling separation anxiety. She may always want you around, and get really distressed when that’s not the case. This usually occurs after you’ve spent some time with her, perhaps after a game of peek-a-boo, after feeding or following a cuddling session. It shows she’s bonded with you, that she always wants you around.
There’s no telling what a baby will find fascinating. Most things will stimulate her. A lot of activities will make her smile and gurgle in enjoyment. Even when she’s a newborn, you can play games with your baby. She may not grasp the concept of the game you’re playing. But if she’s peaceful, perhaps has a little cute smile across her face, it shows she’s engaged and that she’s loving it. Although at this age, she’s probably loving being with you rather than being interested in whatever it is you’re playing. You’re the person making it stimulating for her and that’s why she loves it.