There is nothing more special than the bond between mother and infant. This is a human being that you have grown inside you and fed with your body’s nutrients. It is little less than miraculous to hold this small version of yourself in your arms after nine long months.
Perhaps, though, you’re nervous about the bonding process. There is this idea that you and your baby will fall in love with each other instantaneously when the nurse or doctor places them in your arms. Maybe you have not found that to be true.
Don’t worry if that applies to you. There are lots of bonding activities for you and the baby to enjoy together once they have come home.
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Once you come home with your infant, you should be coming to a place that you have baby-proofed thoroughly. For instance, you should have covered all of the electrical outlets.
Your newborn can’t crawl yet and access those sockets, but it’s best to get a jump on these things. Each year, 1,500 children under five years old sustain injuries by electrical outlets.
The first thing that you and the baby can do to bond is breastfeeding together. Breastfeeding:
- Gives the baby nutrients that they need to grow
- Familiarizes the child with your scent
- Allows them to feel your body warmth
It could be breastfeeding time that lets you grow closer to your new child. You will likely feel that this is the next logical, natural step in your growing relationship.
Take a Nap Together
The first few months with a new baby can be exhausting. Do all that you can to get on the same sleep schedule. That way:
- You’ll have sufficient rest for feeding times, just as they will
- You will have the energy to play with them when they’re active
It is challenging for some women to adjust to sleeping for a couple of hours at a time, rather than straight through the night. You might get lucky and have a child who sleeps all night, but the odds are against it.
If possible, sleep with the baby touching you, or right next to you. The infant will sense your calming presence, and it will help them feel safe and comforted. Just be sure never to roll over onto the child.
Go for Walks Together
Your new baby won’t be old enough to walk for a while, but you can still bond by taking them for a stroll in a baby sling or carrier. There are several varieties where you can secure the baby across your chest so that their legs and feet hang as you go. This is a way to expose your baby to the world, and if it’s a nice day, you can get some exercise at the same time.
You can go to the park, or you can explore the neighborhood. If you have a spouse, partner, or someone else with whom you are raising the child, they can come along.
As you go, talk to the child. It is helpful for them to learn what your voice sounds like, and early exposure to language is great too.
You might elect to bottle-feed your baby rather than breastfeeding. If so, there is nothing wrong with that. Some mothers prefer it, or there might even be a medical reason that necessitates it.
If that’s the case, though, you need to try and make the feeding time special. You can bond by making eye contact with your infant as you give them their bottle.
Being close to your face as they feed lets your child associate you with food. You want that because it is a demonstration of you as a provider. When your child comes to understand that you are their food source, that is an essential bonding aspect.
You Can Give the Baby a Massage
Gently massaging your child’s limbs can relax them, and again, skin-to-skin contact helps with the bonding process. Pay attention to the baby’s response, as they will likely have specific body parts that they like you to touch.
You might find ticklish spots, and then you can make a game of it, too. Making silly faces will keep your baby entertained. Exaggerated facial expressions are a way to help them learn about emotions.
Looking in the Mirror
You can also bond with your baby by sitting in a chair next to a mirror and allowing them to look into it. Mirrors fascinate infants. They don’t entirely understand them yet, but they will see both themselves and you, and you can have fun with their reactions.
Make faces in the mirror and see if they will imitate you. Imitation is part of how young humans learn, and you can spend hours occupying them this way if you don’t have the energy for a more spirited game.
Respond When They Cry
You might be a little resentful when your baby starts screaming at three in the morning, but you must respond to them anyway. During their first months of life, your baby needs to learn that you care for them, and you’ll always be there. That means going to them and consoling them, even if you’re exhausted.
Of course, you can also employ your partner, spouse, or whoever else you are co-parenting with as well. You want to bond with the infant, but they must do so too. You might be the biological mother, but you want the other parent to play an active part.
The more time you’re with your infant, the more you will bond with them. It’s tiring, but the work is so worth it.
You have the privilege and responsibility of imparting the wisdom you have learned to this child. You can teach them and learn from them at the same time.
They can remind you about innocence if you’ve forgotten about it. The world is brand-new to them, and it’s fascinating to see it again through their eyes.