When you found out you were pregnant, you knew your life was never going to be the same. But you probably never could have imagined how such a tiny being could inspire so very much love — and terror.
Because now here she is. This perfect little soul you’re supposed to grow into a happy and healthy human being. A precious little pocket full of possibility whom you’re supposed to nurture into a good person and productive member of society.
And that means loving them well. That means building the bonds today that will help you guide your little one successfully through all the tomorrows to come. But while loving your baby may come naturally, bonding with him could take a bit more effort, a touch more strategy. The good news is, when it comes to bonding with your baby, it truly is a labor of love!
There’s no question that breast milk truly is nature’s miracle food. And if you’re able to breastfeed your little bundle of joy, that’s the ideal. Not only are you going to be loading your baby up with the healthiest nutrition we humans may ever know, but you’re also going to share an experience with your baby that’s unlike any other.
You’ll have the skin-to-skin contact that is so crucial to bonding with newborns. You’ll be swathed in one another’s scent. And you’ll experience the release of powerful bonding hormones, such as oxytocin and prolactin — as if you needed any help falling in love with those big, bright eyes!
But you don’t have to be breastfeeding to make feeding time the ultimate bonding moment. Moms, Dads, and other caregivers can use this quiet time to make precious memories with their little one. Just set the scene. Use dim lighting. Have a comfortable chair, such as a glider, and the more skin-on-skin contact, the better.
Hold your wee one’s gaze as she feeds; touch and caress her face, her hands, her feet. Talk to them or make up a soft, lilting lullaby. The close physical contact, the rhythmic movement of the glider or rocker, and the sound of your voice are precisely what your baby needs to feel perfectly secure, perfectly loved.
In addition to feeding, creating a bedtime ritual can be the perfect way to bond with your baby. Give your little one a nice warm bath and a gentle massage with soothing oils and creams to help prepare them for sleep. Footie pajamas or a sleeper sack will help keep your little one warm and toasty as they drift off to dreamland. Above all, don’t rush this precious time. Even after your newborn has sailed off to sleep, take time to savor this special time with your baby, this extraordinary phase of your child’s life where they depend on you completely, where you are their entire world.
This is also a perfect time to use your parent’s intuition to check in on your little one, to detect early signs of trouble. Changes in your baby’s sleep habits, such as a reluctance to sleep or difficulty staying asleep, may indicate that your little one is experiencing discomfort somewhere. Likewise, while your baby’s lying still, you can take the time to notice the little things that may give important clues about your baby’s health, from skin discoloration to irregularities in breathing.
Parenting is the greatest — and the most terrifying — job in the world. In an ideal world, bonding with your baby comes as naturally as breathing. But in the real world, knowing how to connect with your little one might not be as easy as loving them. With just a bit of effort, though, you can create bonding experiences that you will remember for the rest of your life.
You’ll forge a relationship with your child that can weather any storm — including the teenage years! For the first months of life, your baby’s going to be primarily all about two things: sleeping and eating. And that means that there will
be no better time to bond with your little one than with gentle, skin-to-skin contact while they feed and with a pre-sleep ritual that includes a warm bath and lots of sweet snuggles.