Giving birth is perhaps the most momentous milestone for us mums. The happiness we feel when we finally get to see and hold our babies is just overwhelming. But while most mums and babies make an instant connection right from the get-go, did you know that bonding with newborns can take time for some? And that’s perfectly normal. These baby bonding tips should help ease your worries and build a strong mother and infant relationship.
Why Is Bonding with Newborns Important?
Bonding with newborns involves actions that show our love for our babies, like cuddling and smiling. These are not only fun for us mums but also helpful for our little bubs’ well-being:
- Security and confidence. Touching or looking at their eyes can make newborns feel that they are safe. This feeling of security, in turn, boosts their confidence to learn and explore.
- Brain development. Constant interaction results in the release of brain hormones. These hormones promote our babies’ brain growth and abilities to process memories and all sorts of skills later on.
- Emotional stability. Positive experiences that carers give to their babies become building blocks for newborns to cope with discomfort, distress and other adverse emotions. As our little ones grow older, our love for them will be the foundation of how they build relationships with others.
Should I Worry If I Don’t Make an Instant Bond?
Don’t be pressured if you didn’t feel attached to your baby from day one. Like any new relationship, bonding with newborns can happen gradually, from a few weeks to several months. Sometimes, the challenges we go through after giving birth can hinder that connection from happening. It could be exhaustion after a complicated childbirth, worries about your baby’s health or frustration from your new responsibilities as a first-time mum. No matter the reason, take things in slowly. In time, you will overcome your inner troubles, and the bond between you and your baby will eventually come.
How Can I Bond with my Baby?
There are several ways to start bonding with newborns. You’re probably doing some of these to your little one without even knowing. Make sure to share these ideas with your partner so you can build a great bond with your baby together.
Go for skin-to-skin contact
Rocking or holding babies close after giving birth is the first step when bonding with newborns. The warmth of your skin, your smell and the feel of your heartbeat reassure your newborn. Hold your baby while he’s covered in a light cotton wrap to recreate the feeling of being inside the womb. Skin-to-skin contact with your newborn can also happen while breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. Also, give your baby lots of kisses. Make the most of this time when he can’t escape from her loving mum just yet!
Give your baby gentle massages
Mums love massages, and our babies love them, too! That’s because massages encourage the release of oxytocin, which is a feel-good hormone. So, when your baby is calm and awake, give him light strokes on his foot or tummy. You can also give him gentle massages during bath time or nappy changing. This infographic from the Raising Children Network Australia is a great reference that shows how to give your baby soothing massages.
Do activities that promote eye contact
When our little ones are too young to understand our words of love, our eyes can do it for us. Eye contact can also help our babies remember who we are and what we do for them. So, look at your baby’s eyes while nursing, talking or singing to him. When he’s a few months older, treat your baby to lots of eye contact as you play peek-a-boo or give him his first spoon of solid food.
Talk and sing to your baby often
You don’t have to be a great singer for your baby to be your instant fan! So, let him hear your voice when you can. Sing him lullabies even if he can’t understand them yet. Tell him how your day went or read storybooks to him. Talking or singing to your baby keeps him calm and can help him learn words later, too.
Make funny faces
Finally, probably my favourite tip to start bonding with newborns is to show them our silly side. Wiggling your eyebrows, making your eyes grow big or sticking out your tongue can teach your baby how our body (and funny bone) works. Seeing your baby copy your actions or let out a hearty giggle is well worth the effort.