Bonding is the intense attachment parents develop with their newborns. It is what drives you to protect them and shower them with affection and love. Some parents bond instantly with their newborns at birth, others take a few days, and still others take a bit longer to develop a deep, loving relationship. Experts now know that bonding is a process that may take place over time.
The bond that develops between parents and children is a byproduct of the caregiving that happens every day after birth. There is no magic formula for developing the attachment, but a few things can push the process along.
Begin by cradling your newborn and using gentle stroking motions on his or her skin. Your little one will recognize the difference between your touch and your partner’s. This type of touch is soothing for the newborn, and skin-to-skin contact is like an early language for the baby. When cradling or feeding, hold your newborn against your own skin to create a bond.
Infant massage can also help create a bond. Babies need to be caressed, touched and held as often as they need to sleep and eat. Loving touches facilitate your newborn’s emotional development while stimulating his or her sensory awareness.
Babies are not the only ones who benefit from massage. Touching your baby stimulates your own body’s oxytocin, a hormone that facilitates bonding and attachment.
Talking, laughing and playing with your baby is an effective and fun way to bond. Smiles, interaction and laughter are just as important as sleep or food for your baby’s development. Your tone of voice, body language and loving touch are all communication tools you can use to bond with your infant.
Exchange smiles, happy coos and funny faces when your baby wants to play. Play a game of peek-a-boo, or invite your newborn to interact by using a silly voice. You will quickly experience the joys of engaging your newborn, and any discomfort or embarrassment will fade as you bond.
Feeding time is a prime opportunity for bonding. Newborns may feed every hour, creating many moments for touch, observing the baby’s face and sitting quietly together. Newborns are most aware during feeding time and understand who is providing what they need. Use the opportunity to grow closer and increase your bond.