How to Bond With Baby: 23 Ways to Build Your Relationship With Your Newborn
After months of preparing for the arrival of your bundle of joy, you’ll be eager to bond with baby. Like any other relationship, this takes time and there are many different ways you can go about forming a strong connection with your little one. In this article, we’ll explore why bonding with your baby is so important, especially during the first few months of life, and we’ll share a few of our favorite ways to build connection.
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Why is newborn bonding so important?
Although bonding with your child is a life-long process, it’s especially key during the first few months of life. By responding to their needs with love, your child will feel safe and cared for, creating a strong foundation for their development and well-being.
How to bond with baby: 23 tips and tricks
Now that we know why it’s so important, let’s explore how to bond with newborn. Here are a few tips, tricks and techniques you can use to help you build a strong foundation for your relationship with your child.
- Make eye contact. If you’re searching for ways to bond with baby, eye contact is one of the best places to start, so be mindful of this during feedings and while you figure out how to change a diaper.
- Leverage touch. Touch is another powerful way to bond with your baby. Be sure to sneak in as many cuddles as you can throughout the day and try gentle strokes during diaper changes, baths and tummy time.
- Talk to your newborn. By the time they’re born, your baby can already recognize the voice of the person who carried them. Take advantage of this by talking to your newborn throughout the day as much as possible. Your voice will become a powerful signal to your little one that they’re safe and cared for.
- Be responsive. During the first few months of life, the most important thing you can do to bond with baby is respond to their needs. When you start to become overwhelmed or worried about your relationship with them, remember that simply meeting your child’s needs will help to create a strong bond.
- Learn to swaddle. Learning how to swaddle your little one is a great way to bond with baby, because it’s comforting and makes them feel safe. Be sure to stock up on soft and breathable cotton swaddles for when your baby arrives.
- Sing to your newborn. You don’t have to be good at it. We promise your baby won’t notice if you’re off-key and the more you talk and sing, the easier it’ll be for your child to recognize your voice and find comfort in your presence.
- Get involved. Whether it’s laying with them on one of our play mats during tummy time or learning the theme song to their favorite cartoon, the more involved you are in your child’s world, the easier it’ll be to bond with baby.
- Make a playlist. Music is a powerful tool for bonding with your child. Put together a fun playlist that you can enjoy together and in time, these familiar tunes will be comforting to your child. As they grow older, they may even learn to bop and sing along to the songs!
- Enjoy that baby smell. Just as you want your baby to bond with you, it’s also important to find ways for you to bond with your baby. Bonding is a two-way street and there’s nothing more intoxicating than that baby smell. Enjoy it while you still can!
- Express yourself. Facial expressions are an important part of bonding because they teach your little one about emotions. When you’re interacting with your baby, be as expressive as possible with your face.
- Explore Kangaroo care. This simply means spending time skin-to-skin with your baby, which is especially important during the first few days of your child’s life. This physical connection is so powerful that it can even help regulate your newborn’s breathing and heart rate.
- Avoid comparisons. They say comparison is the thief of joy and that’s especially true when it comes to parenting. Don’t worry about other parents, because what matters most is figuring out how to bond with baby in your own way. Every relationship is unique.
- Take care of yourself. During the first few months as a new parent, it’s hard to find any time for yourself. You’ll be pouring most of your energy into your little one, so you can always say “no” to taking on extra responsibilities. If you’re not up for a visit, just say so. If you want to turn down an invitation, do that. When you take better care of yourself, you can take better care of your baby.
- Be patient. If it wasn’t love at first sight, that’s also okay and very common, especially for women who had difficult birth experiences. Building a relationship takes time and forcing things will only make everyone feel worse.
- Keep a journal. Keeping a journal is a great idea for a few different reasons. First, you’ll be able to look back on this special time for years to come. It’s also a great way to learn about your baby’s habits, routines, likes and dislikes.
- Take photos. As a new parent, taking photos reminds you to stop and smell the roses. Amidst all of the work of caring for a newborn, it’s important to pause and remember how fleeting this period is.
- Read to your baby. Have a few storybooks on hand in your nursery or living room and pick them up occasionally to read to your little one. This is another great way to use your voice to help build the connection between you and baby.
- Reflect. Take time to think back on your own childhood. You can even pull out old baby photos and look for similarities with your child, as it’s a great reminder of how magical creating life is.
- Let go of the mess. During your newborn's first few months of life, things are bound to get a little messy. If you prefer an orderly and clean environment, this can be a little frustrating, but don’t get so caught up with tidying. You don’t want to miss out on important bonding time. Every once in a while, skip the vacuum and opt for a cuddle instead.
- Embrace the rituals. There are constantly things to do when you’re a new parent. It’s easy to get caught up with the checklist, but take time to ground yourself when you’re doing a diaper change or getting through bath time. One day, you may look back and miss having these moments with your baby, so embrace them
- Accept help. Taking care of a newborn is exhausting, so remind yourself that it’s okay to lean on the people around you. You’re not jeopardizing your relationship with your child by having the support.
- Ask for help. If you need more help and it hasn’t been offered, it’s okay to ask for it! Whether it’s having a conversation with your partner, another family member or friend, don’t be afraid to let people know when you need more support.
- Seek out a professional. Many women who had difficult birth experiences or who are caring for a child with special needs might struggle with the bonding process. It’s not uncommon, even for women who didn’t experience these hurdles. If you’re concerned about yourself or your child, reach out to a medical professional for help.
Whether it was love at first sight or you’re slowly building your connection with baby, remember, there’s no timeline you must follow and there’s no right or wrong way to bond with your child. Enjoy the process of getting to know one another, because it’s a time you’ll cherish for years to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
Many parents who wonder about how to bond with newborn might also be curious about how long it takes to feel connected with their baby. The truth is, there isn’t usually one moment when it all comes together. More often than not, bonding is a gradual process that takes time, so let the relationship with your child unfold organically. It may take several days, weeks or even months to feel that special bond and connection with your newborn. Every relationship is different, so focus on your own journey and don’t worry about comparing it to anybody else’s.
If you’re concerned about how to bond with your baby, you might have come across articles on the golden hours. The three golden hours refer to the first three hours of your baby’s life immediately after birth which are believed to be critical for bonding. The term was coined by Dr. Robyn Thompson, a midwife who was eventually rewarded a Ph.D. for her research on breastfeeding. Dr. Thompson recommends delaying routine procedures that aren’t critical to your baby’s health (like weight checks) in favor of skin-to-skin time with your newborn and the first breastfeed.
As long as there’s a caregiver available to meet their needs, a newborn is likely to be content. At an early age, babies don’t yet understand that people and things continue to exist in the world when they’re out of sight. Most babies develop this sense of object permanence at around 4 - 7 months of age. You’ll then begin to notice that your little one, who was previously unbothered by your coming and going, has now developed some separation anxiety. This is completely normal and nothing to worry about. In time, your newborn will learn that while you may leave sometimes, you always return when they’re in need.
Yes, they can! A baby’s sense of smell begins to develop in utero as early as the first trimester and their sense of hearing starts to take form during the second trimester of pregnancy, so they recognize their mother’s voice. Fetuses also breathe and swallow amniotic fluid in utero, which helps them recognize their mother at birth. So, while your little one’s sight isn’t highly developed at birth, they’ll rely on their sense of smell and hearing to identify mom and help create the initial bond. In time, your baby will learn facial recognition and begin to identify familiar faces through sight.
If your newborn cries when you put them down, you’re not alone. Many parents experience this very common problem, as most babies have a strong desire to be held, especially during the first few months of life. Experts refer to this as The Fourth-Trimester Effect. During the first 12 weeks of life, your baby’s going through a huge adjustment period while they figure out life outside of the womb. Being held mimics the environment inside the womb, so newborns find it comforting.