Tips for Bonding with Your Newborn Baby

Love at first site is a beautiful notion, but it’s not always a reality for parents and their newborns. While a strong attachment, called bonding, develops naturally between most babies and parents, it is often not instantaneous.

Typically, moms and dads begin to bond with their infant within a few days or weeks of birth. A bond may form quicker between mother and child because the mom tends to be the one breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, changing diapers, and spending more time with the baby. Of course, this is not always the case.

Even mothers who are the primary caregiver still may not bond immediately to an infant. And some fathers bond very quickly with their babies. Also, more than one child’s parents may not bond as quickly with one baby as they did with another.

If this happens, don’t panic or feel guilty. How quickly you bond may depend on several factors, such as an extended hospital stay for you or your infant, fluctuations in your hormones and emotions, lack of adequate sleep, the amount of alone time spent with the infant, and personalities. Bonding with your baby will happen on your baby’s and your timetable.

Tips for Bonding with Your Newborn Baby

It’s important to note that a certain level of bonding between baby and parents occurs even before the baby is born. Even if the parents don’t feel it strongly, the baby experiences it. She or he grows used to hearing mom, dad, and other family members while still in womb. I saw evidence of this towards the end of my pregnancy with my older daughter. I was about 34 weeks pregnant and was having a final ultrasound. The technician was showing us close-up shots of her face. My husband spoke, and the baby quickly turned her head in the direction of his voice. Amused by her response, he moved the opposite side and spoke again. Once more, she turned toward her daddy. The bond between father and daughter was already being formed.

To learn how to bond with your baby, it’s helpful to first understand how babies connect with their parents, family members, and caregivers.

How your baby bonds with you

How your baby bonds with you

Touch

Infants respond to and are soothed by skin-to-skin contact with others.

Eye contact

Eye contact is the right way of communication between the baby and others, but it must be close to when the baby is young. Infants can only see about 8 to 15 inches away.

Sound

Babies respond to human voices and enjoy hearing people talk. They also try to use their voices and communicate by making sounds at an early age.

Mirroring

Babies also bond by trying to imitate facial expressions and hand movements of the people around them.

Ways you can bond with your baby

Ways you can bond with your baby

Have skin-to-skin or close contact with your infant

The baby can smell your scent, feel your warmth, and hear your heartbeat. While the skin-to-skin contact happens naturally for babies and mothers who breastfeed, it is also possible for fathers and mothers who don’t breastfeed their babies. Hold the baby against your bare skin when feeding or cuddling him or her. One of my favorite ways to keep my babies close and increase their bond was to carry them in a sling or front baby carrier.

Interact with your infant at a close range

Whenever possible, stay within 8 to 15 inches from your baby’s face when you’re playing, talking, or interacting with them. Not only does this help build the bond through eye contact, but it also helps your baby see your gestures and facial expressions.

Talk and sing to your baby

Your infant loves to hear your voice because he or she is already familiar with it. Your baby was listening to it even before birth. Don’t worry if you have no idea what to say or don’t know many lullabies. Your baby won’t even care what words you speak or sing, as long as it’s done in a happy, soothing tone.

Spend one-on-one time with your baby

Devote time to play with, snuggle or rock your baby when no one else is around to distract your attention from each other. This is when some of the best bonding time between parent and baby happens.

Remember

There is no exact science to bonding with your baby, nor will it happen precisely.

However, if more than a few weeks have passed since your baby was born and you haven’t yet felt an inkling of closeness to your baby, it is suggested that you speak with your doctor. You may be experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression.

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