Bonding With Your Baby
When a baby and their caregiver form a strong connection with one another, it is referred to as attachment. This strong connection is formed through bonding, which comes intuitively to some parents, while others find that it can take some time and practice – and that’s okay! In this month’s blog, we are going to explore what bonding and attachment are, why it’s important, and some helpful little hints and tips to help you establish a beautiful, fulfilling bond between you and your newborn.
First of all, why is bonding so important? It may seem obvious to some, but simple things like a smile or a cuddle shared between you and your baby help them to feel safe in the world, and therefore feel confident to learn, explore their surroundings, and play. What is less obvious however, is that feeling securely attached during infancy actually lays the foundation for your baby’s emotional wellbeing and psychological development all throughout childhood and beyond. Research shows that our ability to love, trust and even resolve conflict comes, at least in part, from how securely attached we felt to our primary caregivers during infancy.
Another reason why spending time bonding with your infant is super important is that it helps your baby grow both physically and mentally. Things like cuddling, talking, or singing to your baby, and gazing into their eyes are all bonding activities that make your newborn’s brain release certain hormones. These hormones encourage rapid brain growth and promote the development of connections in the brain that are very important for learning. So, every time you and your little one share a smile or a laugh, you’re encouraging healthy brain development! It’s pretty amazing when you think about it.
When your baby wants to connect with you and do some bonding, he or she will use certain tell-tale body language to communicate this. For example, your newborn may do things like:
- Make eye-contact with you or smile at you.
- Look interested in what you’re doing
- Coo or laugh or make other little noises
Responding to your baby’s body language with warmth and affection helps your baby feel secure. It teaches your newborn about communication, emotions and social cues, and effectively encourages them to keep communicating!
Working on the bond between you and your baby can be really simple, and it mostly occurs when you’re not even realising it’s happening. For example, when you hold your baby in your arms, it’s a bonding experience. So is giving your baby a warm bath or even changing their nappy! What it comes down to is the simple fact that every time you interact with your newborn, giving them warmth and gentle affection, it is strengthening and deepening the bond between the two of you. Here are a few other ideas for bonding:
- Use soothing, cheerful and reassuring tones of voice to talk to your baby as often as you can. You can talk to them about your day, tell them about what you are doing, or make up stories. This will help your baby recognise the sound of your voice and to later on learn to speak.
- Sing to your baby. Newborn children usually love to hear the sounds of music and rhythm!
- Provide your baby with lots of skin-to-skin contact. Especially if you’re not breastfeeding, this helps your baby to smell your scent and hear your heartbeat, which helps them to feel safe and secure with you.
Sometimes, bonding isn’t easy and for some parents it doesn’t happen immediately after their baby is born. It’s actually completely normal for bonding to take as long as it takes, ranging from a few hours, a few days, a few weeks to several months! There is no right or wrong when it comes to the time-frame within which bonding occurs, so if you’re not yet feeling that special connection with your baby, don’t fret! It can be easy to cave into the internal pressure of feeling like you have to feel bonded with your baby in order to be a good parent. This simply isn’t true. Bonding, for some people, is a process that can take some time and happens gradually as a growing feeling of affection. For others, it happens the very second they hold their “little bundle of joy” in their arms for the first time.
Remember that bonding works both ways, and it’s not just important to your baby to have a strong connection with you. Taking the time to try and strengthen your bond with your newborn will help you feel more confident, comfortable and fulfilled as a parent as well. Make sure you give yourself all the time that you need and go easy on yourself – especially if the bonding process is taking a little longer than you’d like it to. Most importantly, know that if you are struggling, it is okay to reach out for help from loved ones and/or health professionals.
We would love to hear any tips you might have for bonding with your baby. Please comment below.
❤️ Monika Hricko,
Inspire Baby Wear