Bonding with your Baby

bonding with your babyBonding with your baby may come naturally from the moment you lay eyes on him, or it may take some getting to know each other.  Research shows that up to 20% of new moms do not feel an immediate connection with their babies.  And that’s OK!  Bonding with your baby is a process that can take time, effort and consistency.  We’re sharing a few ways you can work on bonding with your baby.  Over time, you’ll feel the relationship grow into one of love and joy for both of you.

Breastfeeding:  Our top way of bonding with your baby is breastfeeding. (Are you surprised?)  It is one of the purest and most special experiences a mother and baby can share.  It’s one of nourishment, closeness, security, comfort and love.  Not only does breastfeeding meet your baby’s basic need to eat, it fulfills his need to feel your touch and know you are there for him.  Even if you aren’t feeling a strong bond from the beginning, breastfeed your baby (as soon as possible after birth) to help “seal the deal” that the two of you are in it forever.

Take Care of your Baby’s Basic Needs:  Babies are pretty selfish in the early months of their lives.  They really just need to have their basic needs met, and they’ll be just fine.  That includes feeding, changing and washing your baby, and ensuring he’s getting enough sleep and cuddle time.  When your baby cries, always pick him up to assure him you’re there for him.  Even if you are just going through the motions at first, you will slowly learn each other and your actions will change from those of necessity to those of love.

Skin-to-Skin:  Breastfeeding is a great opportunity for touch, but skin-to-skin contact can happen at other times too.  Holding and cuddling your baby closely makes him feel like he’s back in the womb, a warm and familiar place.  Skin-to-skin encourages your baby’s heart beat to sync with yours and helps regulate his temperature too.  These physical benefits offer the wonderful emotional side-effects of a calmer, less fussy, more secure baby.

Baby-Wearing:  Similar to breastfeeding and skin-to-skin, wearing your baby in a carrier keeps your baby wrapped tightly (like his living quarters in the womb) and close to you at all times.  He’ll hear your every word, he’ll feel your breath and heart beat, and he’ll delight in your movement.  Babies are often lulled to sleep when in the warmth and security of a baby carrier, and you may find complete bliss in having your baby sleep right on your chest.

Follow your Instincts:  Soliciting (or even unsolicited) advice from a variety of sources – friends, books, relatives – can be helpful when you’re facing a childcare challenge.  But you also have to consider what feels right to you.  Every baby is different and you come into motherhood with your own set of skills and habits.  Keep those in mind as you decide how to care for your baby.  Even advice from healthcare providers can throw you for a loop if you are finding rhythm in your own methods.  As long as you are not threatening the health of your baby, know that your way works too and may help the bonding process evolve faster.

Learn your Baby’s Cries:  Babies each have distinctive cries that signify different needs.  While it may be agonizing to hear your baby cry, learning to decipher your baby’s cries is important to meeting his needs and not feeling constant frustration and anxiety that can impede bonding.   When you finally figure out which cries are for hunger, discomfort, fatigue and need for touch, you’ll have a sense of great accomplishment that you know your baby well enough to understand his language.  This alone can be a huge factor in bonding with your baby.

Separate and Return Refreshed:  Don’t make the mistake of feeling you must be with your baby at all times to form a bond.  On the contrary, mothers who are stressed and frazzled from 24/7 baby care may find it harder to bond.  Sleep deprivation certainly doesn’t help matters either.  Instead, let your partner or another care giver take turns with the baby so you can rest, relax and rejuvenate yourself to be the best mom you can be.

Bonding with your baby may take some time.  The worst thing you can do is blame yourself for not feeling the bond.  Chances are, your baby doesn’t notice at all and you’re bonding better than you think.  After all, those 9 months in the womb counts as complete and utter bonding time.  Hang in there and embrace your evolving relationship with your baby.