You can start bonding with your baby even before they are born by rubbing your belly, talking and singing to your baby, playing calming music for them, and even having an ultrasound can set the stage.
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The bond between a baby and mom or dad does not always have to form suddenly. Some parents may form a bond with their baby within a few minutes, while it can take weeks for others. This is not a sign that you’re a bad parent. As long as you’re looking after your baby and taking care of their requirements, a connection will finally develop between you two. Here are a few ideas to build a strong bond with your baby:
Cuddle Your Baby Often
One of the basic senses through which you bond with your baby is touch. Skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible after your baby is born gives the mother and the baby a chance to recover from the birth and get more familiar with each other. Typically, after birth, your baby will be placed on your chest, giving them a chance to progressively acclimatize to the outside world in the presence of your familiar voice, smell, heartbeat, and warmth.
A dad’s touch is essential too. One study examined the impact of skin-to-skin contact with the dad in cases of cesarean birth where contact with the mother was limited. It was discovered that those who had contact with the father became calmer, stopped crying, and got sleepy sooner than those who did not. Research also shows that skin-to-skin contact between newborns and fathers results in a stronger attachment.
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Some daily routines can help you bond well with your baby. Babies love a soothing massage, so use slow and gentle strokes to massage your baby. You can try a massage after your baby’s nap, before a bath, or even after you change them. But avoid massaging them for about 20 minutes after a feed as it can be uncomfortable. Using an edible oil like olive oil can help your hands glide comfortably over the delicate body of your baby.
Cuddling your baby shouldn’t only be when they are toddlers, continue to give your baby lots of cuddles as they grow. Touch fuels your baby’s brain to release chemicals that make them feel good. And babies feel secure and reassured when they are held. They also love the warmth of skin-to-skin contact.
Care for the daily needs of your baby
The bond between your baby and you gets stronger through the day-to-day process of taking care of them. It may not seem like a special thing to bath, feed, change diapers, and put your baby to sleep, but these everyday activities are, in fact, what builds your relationship and helps you connect with your baby. Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind:
Feeding time is bonding time: Feeding is a special time that can help you establish a connection with your baby. Breastfeeding offers many benefits for both your baby and you and helps build affection, intimacy, and familiarity. But if for some reason you are unable to breastfeed your baby, you can also bond with them while you bottle feed. Avoid allowing too many people bottle feed your baby. If your baby is routinely fed by just you or your partner, your baby will get familiar with both of your touch and smell.
Respond to your baby: When you hear your baby cry, you are biologically cued to respond. Your baby may be crying because they are hungry, need a nappy change, or they are uncomfortable. When you respond immediately and take care of the problem, your baby feels secure and comfortable. They realize that you are taking care of them and will learn to trust you. This not only strengthens your bond but also helps them form trusting relationships in the future.
There are times you may not understand why your baby is crying. In such cases, you can simply comfort and reassure them. Your baby will know that you’re paying attention and can be relied upon. Don’t worry about giving your baby too much attention.
Talk, Read, and Sing To Your Baby
You can also build a stronger connection with your baby through your voice. When you talk or sing to your baby, look into their eyes and pay attention to your facial expressions too. This promotes closeness and also teaches your baby the link between feelings and words.
Your baby loves interacting with you. Talk to them in a reassuring and soothing tone and they’ll become familiar with your voice and pick up language skills.
Set aside a special time to read to your baby. No, you don’t need to wait till your baby begins to understand words to do this.
Tending to Baby’s Needs Help Dads Bond Too
Nature has equipped dads to be caregivers too. New dads also experience hormonal changes that promote caregiving and attachment to their baby, just like mothers. Studies also show that dads can be just as responsive to babies as moms. The only difference might be that dads tend to have more playful interactions, while moms have more affectionate interactions.
Address Unresolved Bonding Problems and Ask For Help
If you don’t feel an instant connection to your baby, don’t worry too much. It can sometimes take a while for a relationship to develop between you and your baby. Factors like postpartum depression, hormonal changes, fatigue, and a difficult birthing process, can affect your bonding with your baby easily. The important thing is to move forward and these steps should help with that:
If even after weeks of looking after your newborn, you feel aggrieved, disconnected, or panicky, make sure you speak to your doctor. Postpartum depression is a reality for many moms and you will need professional help to pull you out of this.
Ask for help from family and friends: Having a new baby brings huge changes and you may take a while to adjust to it. You can ask for help from family members to help with cooking, grocery shopping, household chores, or doing the laundry so that you can spend time taking care of your baby.
However if adjusting to your new life is causing significant distress, speak to a healthcare professional.