How to Bond With Your Baby

Three Parts:Establishing a BondEnhancing Your Bond through Regular CareSeeking Help If You’re Having Trouble Bonding

Bonding is the intense attachment that parents and babies develop with one another. Bonding is an integral part of any baby and child’s development. Though many parents and children are ready to bond at—and even before—birth, it can occasionally take some time. You might not notice the bond until your baby smiles up at you when you’re changing his or her diaper. But by actively working to establish a bond and creating the bond through everyday care, you can start the bonding process early in your baby’s life.[1]

Part 1
Establishing a Bond

  1. Image titled Bond With Your Baby Step 1
    Have patience. Bonding with your baby doesn't just happen overnight. In fact, it’s a process. It can happen at birth or even a few weeks or months later, sometimes in the process of everyday caregiving. At some point, you’ll realized how much you love your baby and want to protect him or her.[2]
    • Recognize that is it normal to not bond immediately and to even have negative feelings about your baby.[3] As long as your negative feelings don’t manifest themselves as wanting to hurt your baby, this is fine. If you do want to hurt your baby, seek immediate medical attention.
    • Remember to be patient and understanding with your partner. Every parent has a different experience bonding with a baby. Your partner may bond immediately with your baby or it might take longer. In either case, try to focus on your bond with your baby rather than on your partner's bond with your baby.
    • Avoid concern if you are an adoptive parent. Bonding with your baby may take a bit longer, but the process is the same as with biological parents.[4]
  2. Image titled Bond With Your Baby Step 2
    Start during pregnancy. Everything you do during pregnancy, from diet to managing stress, has an impact on your baby. Because of this, it’s a good idea to start the bonding process while you or your partner is pregnant. This can be as simple as talking, singing, or reading to the baby in utero. Make sure to let your partner know when the baby is kicking and moving so that he or she can feel it, which may help establish an early bond.[5]
    • Consider putting your baby’s nursery or a designated sleeping area together with your baby. Making decisions about the baby together and taking these early care steps can promote bonding during pregnancy and once the baby arrives.
  3. Image titled Bond With Your Baby Step 3
    Cradle and touch your baby. Touch is an early type of language between a baby and parents. It soothes both of you and can also promote healthy growth and development. Cradle, hold, and touch your baby as often as you can to help establish the bond.[6]
    • Give your baby “skin to skin” contact if you can. This means holding your baby’s bare skin directly against your own bare skin during feeding or cradling times. You can start this as early as following delivery.
    • Rock and stroke your baby during feeding and cradling times. Make sure to keep both gentle so that you don’t harm or startle your baby.
    • Recognize that touch is especially important for premature babies and those with medical problems. If you can’t hold your baby, ask the doctor if you can touch him or her or even try to give a gentle massage in the isolette.
  4. Image titled Bond With Your Baby Step 4
    Massage your baby. Since touch is so important to your baby’s development and aiding the bonding process, incorporate a massage into your daily activities.[7] Not only can this promote bonding and relaxation, but it can also move trapped gas in your baby’s belly.[8]
    • Use a cold fruit or vegetable oil to massage your baby such as olive, grape seed, apricot, avocado, or safflower. Rub it between your hands to warm it before application. Stay away from baby and mineral oils, which can clog your baby’s pores.[9] Make sure the room is at least 75 degrees so that your baby doesn’t get cold during the massage. Consider adding some soothing music in the background.
    • Make sure you talk to your baby during the massage. Your voice can soothe her and helps further promote your bond.
    • Start by massaging your baby’s legs and feet and gently squeeze the leg as you make your way down. Then move to your baby’s belly and chest by drawing an oval below his or her belly button and then gently making circles with your hands. Make sure to get your baby’s arms, which you can massage just like the legs. Flip your baby over and stroke his or her back from side to side followed by up and down. Finally, do the face and head by stroking the cheeks and drawing tiny circles with your fingertips all over both.
    • Listen to your baby’s mood. If he or she isn’t into the massage, try again later in the day.
  5. Image titled Bond With Your Baby Step 5
    Give your baby vocal stimulation. Hearing your voice is important to the development of your baby’s nervous system. It also can soothe and calm your baby, which can promote bonding. Talk, sing, and read to your baby whenever you have the chance.[10]
    • Respond to your baby’s babbles or coos to let him or her know you hear it. Say, “what’s that, Christopher, you want to hear some music? Ok, let’s listen to some waves on the beach.” You could also use this opportunity to sing your child a favorite song. Make sure to keep the mood light and happy and laugh when you get a chance.[11]
    • Talk to your baby whenever you are feeding, changing, or bathing him or her. This not only helps to soothe him or her, but helps promote the bond for both of you.
    • Read to your baby as a part of your daily or bedtime routine.
  6. Image titled Bond With Your Baby Step 6
    Maintain eye-to-eye contact. Whenever you are interacting with your baby, it’s important to maintain eye-to-eye contact. This can reinforce your bonding process with your baby as well as promote his or her overall development and well-being.[12]
    • Realize it may take your baby up to 4 weeks to be able to focus on you. In the meantime, follow your baby’s eyes and make sure to catch his or her gaze as you can.

Part 2
Enhancing Your Bond through Regular Care

  1. Image titled Bond With Your Baby Step 7
    Include your partner whenever possible. The process of bonding also occurs naturally through regular care. Making sure that you include your partner in the daily care of your baby can promote or enhance the bonding process for him or her as well.[13]
    • Be open and honest with your partner about why you’re including him or her. For example, if your partner balks at changing a diaper say, “I asked you to help me because this helps us bond with Susanna.”
    • Remember that trading off and on with daily care can also help you and your partner form individual bonds with your baby.
  2. Image titled Bond With Your Baby Step 8
    Calm your baby. Most babies cry and get cranky at some point. Calming your baby when he or she cries can not only calm down him or her, but also promote the bonding process.[14]
    • Stroke or touch your baby’s skin and speak in a soft voice. Looking in your baby’s eyes may also help calm him or her while enhancing your bond. Don’t make any sudden movements or loud noises to prevent startling your baby.
  3. Image titled Bond With Your Baby Step 9
    Feed your baby. Eating is key to a happy and healthy baby. It’s also a natural and optimal time to bond with your baby because he or she will respond to your smell and touch. Feed your baby on a schedule and according to his or her age, which can help your baby grow and enjoy spending time with you.
    • breast or bottle feed to further establish your bond with the baby.[15] It doesn’t matter if you breast or bottle feed, a loving parent will always create a special bond with your baby.[16]
    • Use your feeding session to use other bonding techniques such as touching, stroking, talking, and maintaining eye contact. Consider massaging your baby’s belly to help relieve air in the system, which can further strengthen your bond.[17]
    • Remember that bottle-feeding can be a great experience for your partner, too.
  4. Image titled Bond With Your Baby Step 10
    Change your baby regularly. Making sure your baby has clean diapers promotes health and happiness, but it also presents another opportunity to bond with your baby. Use this time to talk and touch your baby, even making jokes with him or her about the diaper.[18] Consider allowing your partner to participate in diaper changing sessions or switch on and off, since this is also a great bonding chance for him or her, too.
    • Lay your baby down on a comfy diaper pad and make sure not leave him or her to prevent falling.[19] Remove the dirty diaper and gently wipe your baby’s genital area clean with wipes or a pre-moistened washcloth. Put on the new diaper and apply any ointments you want before sealing the diaper. During this process, have a “conversation” with your baby. Laugh with him or her about the diaper. This can help sooth and promote the bond with your baby. You can also consider using this time to give your baby a mini massage on the legs or belly.
  5. Image titled Bond With Your Baby Step 11
    Enjoy bonding during bath time. Your baby needs a bath a couple of times every week and, in some cases, if he or she has a diaper blowout. Since touch and massaging actions are a part of bath time, it’s an optimal chance to work on the bonding process.[20] Use bath time to strengthen the bond between you, your partner, and your baby.
    • Have everything you need for bath time ready: a washcloth, towel with a hood, mild baby shampoo and soap, baby wipes, a clean diaper, and clean clothes ready. Preparation can keep the mood light and help you focus on the bonding experience.
    • Fill the tub with 2-3 inches (5-8 centimeters) of water that’s between 100F (38 degrees Celsius) and 120F (49C) to prevent scalding. Keep pouring it over your baby during the bath so he or she stays warm and say something like, “that feels good, doesn’t it, Teresa?”
    • Use your free hand to stroke and touch your baby. Give him or her a massage either during or after the bath.[21] Consider putting on some soothing music or singing to the baby during the bath.
    • Wrap your baby in a hooded towel so he or she stays warm and cozy. Rub the baby’s back while you’re drying him or her off. [22]
  6. Image titled Bond With Your Baby Step 12
    Have a bedtime routine filled with bonding. Nightly bedtime rituals not only help prepare your baby to sleep, but they also present a great opportunity to use a variety of different bonding techniques. Giving your baby a bath, feeding him or her, reading a story, singing, or having a soothing “conversation” can cue your baby to go to sleep and further establish your bond.[23]
    • Read or sing to your baby to calm him or her as he or she drifts off to sleep.
    • Give the baby a warm bath with a gentle massage before bed to promote sleepiness.[24]

Part 3
Seeking Help If You’re Having Trouble Bonding

  1. Image titled Bond With Your Baby Step 13
    Ask for help. Parents often feel overwhelmed when caring for a baby, especially if it is their first one. Remember that it’s important to care for yourself, though, too. This can help you better bond to your baby. Don’t be bashful about asking your partner, friends, or family to give you occasional help.[25]
    • Remember that most people love babies and will probably love to help you. If you don’t have any close friends or family to help you, your doctor or local hospital may help you find someone to help you.
  2. Image titled Bond With Your Baby Step 14
    Visit your doctor. In some cases, you may find it difficult to bond with your baby at all. If you don’t think that you’re bonding with your baby at his or her first office visit, talk to the doctor about your feelings. He or she can figure out if there are underlying issues causing the lack of bond.[26]
    • Recognize that you may have difficulty bonding with your baby because of one of the following factors: adjusting early mental pictures of your child to the reality, hormones, postpartum depression, exhaustion and pain from a long delivery, your baby being in an isolette.
    • Realize that your baby may also have trouble bonding. This can be a result of premature birth and a parent’s inability to touch and access the baby.[27]
  3. Image titled Bond With Your Baby Step 15
    Treat postpartum depression. A lot of new moms feel like they’re on an emotional rollercoaster—they don’t get much sleep, have little time for themselves, and are faced with a lot of new responsibilities. But if your symptoms don’t go away after a few weeks, you may have postpartum depression (PPD). This can affect if and how you bond with your baby. Getting prompt treatment of PPD can help you more effectively bond with your new baby.[28]
    • Recognize that the symptoms of PPD are: withdrawal from a partner or loved ones, being unable to bond, severe anxiety that prevents sleep, having feelings of guilt and worthlessness.[29]
    • See your doctor about diagnosing PPD and ask what your options for treatment are. They may include medications or speaking to a mental health professional.[30]
    • Remember to give your baby consistent care even if you don’t feel well—this keeps your baby bonded to you and may help foster your own bonding process.[31]
  4. Image titled Bond With Your Baby Step 16
    Talk through a traumatic birth. Most women have safe birth experience, but a small portion of women will have traumatic births. This can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder, which in turn can make a woman feel isolate from her baby and loved ones.[32]
    • Be aware that typical symptoms of PTSD following a traumatic birth are: intrusive memories or flashbacks of the event; avoiding anything that reminds you of the birth, including your baby; sleep problems; fear of another traumatic birth; avoiding touch or sex.[33]
    • Make sure that you talk to your doctor, a mental health professional, and your loved ones to get help.
    • Join local or online communities for mothers healing from traumatic birth. Groups such as Solace for Mothers have online communities and tools to help mothers who experienced a traumatic birth. Remember that these communities are safe spaces and you can be open and honest about your experience. You may find that your fellow mothers have great tips on bonding with your baby after a traumatic birth.[34]
  5. Image titled Bond With Your Baby Step 17
    Forge a healthy bond with a special needs baby. Just like parents with infants who are in intensive care, moms and dad with babies who have special needs can also have difficult bonding experiences. This can be a result of the parent having a grief response to the child’s disability.[35]
    • Forge a bond by placing the baby on your chest or stomach area while both of you relax; touching, hugging, or massaging your baby firmly without movement to prevent sensory issues; talking to your baby often and in a soft voice and consider getting him or her close to your face; and making eye contact when talking to your baby.
    • Find a local or online support group to discuss any problems you have bonding with your special needs baby. Groups such as Friendship Circle can help you find local and online groups. It can also help you set up a support group by meeting parents from local schools or hospitals.[36]

Sources and Citations

Show more... (33)

Article Info

Categories: Babies and Infants