Whether you call yourself mom or dad (or anything else!), there are many ways to bond with your baby beginning at birth that will help you build an amazing relationship.
Once you become a parent, staring at your baby suddenly becomes your favorite hobby. You quickly develop an attachment to them – and they to you. Although it is often easier for birth mothers to bond with their baby, fathers, adoptive parents or other caretakers can still create an equally strong bond with the baby. As pediatrician Dr. William Sears says, “Bonding is not always instantaneous – it’s a lifelong process.” There are many ways to bond with your baby not only during the first year but throughout their life. After all, they’ll always be your baby.
These tips for how to bond with your baby are for everyone! No matter what type of parent you are, you can build a strong relationship with your infant.
How to Bond with your Baby
While there are many ways to build a parent-child relationship, these bonding tips will help you start bonding right away. Even though ways of bonding with your children change as they grow up, they never lose their importance. These tips for how to bond with your baby will help you through the first 12 months:
1. Skin-to-Skin Contact – It’s widely known that skin-to-skin contact helps newborns in a multitude of ways, including temperature regulation, stress reduction, comfort, security and, perhaps most importantly, the release of oxytocin, which is what makes you feel love and happiness. Both baby and parent can enjoy the benefits of skin-to-skin contact by simply resting with the baby on your bare chest. You’ll never want to get up again.
2. Breastfeeding – As any breastfeeding mother can attest, it’s an excellent way to bond with your baby. It combines skin-to-skin contact with a very intimate feeding moment. Don’t worry though – even if you’re not breastfeeding, you can bond with your baby through bottle feedings with a little skin-to-skin touching and eye contact.
3. Eye Contact – The more your baby really sees you, the more of a bond you’ll develop. Lock eyes during feedings and keep your face close to theirs. This is the start of communication! Babies learn gestures and expressions from these interactions, and they begin to develop a relationship with you simply be seeing you up close and often.
4. Co-Sleeping in the Same Room – If you can, try co-sleeping with the baby in a bassinet or crib close to your bed or even attached to it. Studies have shown that having the baby in the bedroom with you (not in your bed) can help with sleep, anxiety and reduce the likelihood or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
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5. Infant Massage – Did you know you can (and should) massage your infant? This bonding experience can help boost muscle development, calm a fussy baby, reduce stomach pains and help you bond from the consistent touching. There are multiple ways to give an infant massage, but simply be gentle and keep them warm and comfortable.
6. Respond to Cries – For the first three months, doctors recommend picking up the baby as soon as they cry to make them feel safe and develop a bond. After three months, it may become more necessary to let them self-soothe sometimes so that they don’t learn that crying earns them attention. Early on, anything you can do to make them feel safe helps you bond with your baby.
7. Sing & Read to Them – Your baby wants to hear your voice. Reading and singing to your baby can help calm them and develop your relationship. Simply talking to them about random things will help them learn your voice and process all of the new information around them.
8. Move with Them – Babies love movement. Whether it’s going for a walk together, dancing together or just bouncing them, these movements make them happy while helping you bond with them. Plus, there’s the added benefit of exercise for you!
There are many other ways you’ll bond with your baby, and each parent will find their own ways to develop a strong relationship. For the most part, these simple tips for bonding with your baby will come easily and naturally. You’ll just want to stare at them, hold them and talk to them all day, helping you set the stage for a great relationship.
What did you feel was the most effective way to bond with your baby?