I’ve worked with lots of new mummies over the years and while some may feel instantly attached to their newborn baby, others need a little more time to adjust to their new role. It can take time for you to recover physically, emotionally and hormonally after the birthing experience and strong feelings of attachment can take a little longer to develop.
Wherever you are on your bonding journey, it’s important to remember that it is a gradual process and that each day you show your baby love and attention, your bond is growing deeper and more intense. There are lots of ways you can encourage bonding with your baby and I’ve put together a few ideas to help!
1) Get to Know Your Bump
When you’re pregnant, almost everything you do will affect your baby, so this is a great time to get a head start on building a strong connection. Pay close attention to your baby’s kicking and moving and talk to her – even if you do feel a bit silly!
2) Become BFFs
Spend as much time as possible with your baby, your new best friend forever, by getting plenty of skin-to-skin and eye-to-eye contact. Simply picking up your baby and responding when she cries will promote trust and bonding. As you get to know your baby, you’ll soon notice that different cries mean different things and you’ll be able to meet your baby’s needs more quickly.
Breastfeeding promotes a special closeness between you and your baby. Not only is it an ideal time for skin contact, it’s also an exercise in baby reading. Look at your baby’s facial expressions and body language and try to make eye-to-eye contact as much as possible. Bottle feeds are an excellent opportunity to bond in the same way – by feeding with lots of touching and talking.
4) Bonding with your baby through massage
Baby massage is an age-old practice that bonds you to your baby and relaxes baby’s muscles, increases circulation, and reduces stress (for both of you). A 15 minute bedtime massage could also help your baby to fall asleep faster and rest better.
5) Bonding through sounds
Your baby loves the sound of your voice! It is familiar and your baby will feel comforted by hearing you speak or sing. Your baby may also be soothed if you lie her on your chest with her head near your heart.
6) Bathing your baby
Giving your baby baths and also hopping into the tub with your baby is a wonderful way to get close, relax and have some fantastic skin-to-skin contact.
7) Bonding with your baby through play
Playing simple games with your baby is a great opportunity for some fun interaction. Try capturing baby’s attention with a game of peekaboo during nappy changes or read books to your baby, making lots of fun voices for the different characters.
Finally, don’t forget about you! Babies need their mummy to be happy and you need to recharge in order to be a great mummy. If you need a break, ask a family member or friend to take over, even for an hour, so you can have time to yourself. You’ll feel much more relaxed after a shower or a nap.