Having a baby or small child can bring amazing joy and fulfillment. Afterall, the way you love and care for your young one will shape the person they become. With all the other responsibilities you have as a parent, how can you assure that you are intentional in your efforts to bond with your little one, supporting their growth and laying the foundation from them to develop into happy, healthy and successful people?
Bonding with your baby starts from the very beginning. Prenatal bonding can be as simple as talking and singing to your baby. Once they are born, help their transition into the world by maintaining their closeness to you.
Kangaroo care, or skin-to-skin contact where you hold your baby with their uncovered chest to yours for a minimum of an hour a day is especially vital. This method has been linked to lower mortality rates and regulates your baby’s temperature and heart rates. Moms who do kangaroo care are also apt to breastfeeding and typically do so longer. Another benefit: Skin-to-skin contact minimizes postpartum depression in mothers, naturally supporting biological wellness for both mom and baby, lending to better bonding.
Playtime is another opportunity for you to draw closer to your little one. When they are still very young, getting down on the floor with them and playing with them will help you connect. A game of Peek-A-Boo or This Little Piggy, both of which incorporate touch, will create special time for talking and laughing with your baby. Even if your child is a little older, playing together can be an opportunity for helping them relate to you and the world around them.
Young ones do well with routines and rituals so to help you bond with your child, create special activities that you do together at the same time of day or week. Some of these may include sharing a morning wake up song, a bedtime story, a weekly outing or making a special treat. Keeping your word and being consistent with these rituals builds your child’s trust in you, helping them feel safe and secure.
With so many demands on your time, it will be vital to minimize distractions that you can control. Turning off the television and cell phone—for both you and your little one—can free up time to spend directly interacting with each other. That time can be replaced with opportunities for you to ask your child about their day and to assure them that you are listening and attentive to their needs. Get down on their level and look them in the eyes when communicating with them. Try having a cut off time each day for being connected to streaming services, social media or work email or limit their use to times when your child is otherwise occupied.
Little ones grow up fast so make the most of your moments together. Now is a precious opportunity to pour into your child, helping them to feel loved, safe and secure.
This is not always easy. Some common challenges to bonding include maternal stress or depression and the need to use family or day care services to care for little ones, reducing the time moms and young ones can spend together. If you’re facing challenges bonding with your child and need support, please reach out to us to get more resources to help you face this successfully.