Bonding is the way to describe the warm fuzzy feeling you get when spending time with your baby. You may not realize it, but there are times in daily caregiving when you’re already bonding with your baby. Say you’re in the middle of changing a diaper, and suddenly your baby gives you the biggest smile and laugh. Now you’re giggling too and making as many goofy faces and sounds as possible to keep them smiling and laughing while you finish the task. This is an example of how bonding can happen in small moments. Shared moments like this are good for you and your baby.
Why is bonding with baby important?
Many experiments have shown that when monkeys have a “mother” figure around, even if it’s a prop, they exhibit signs of better socialization. This leads scientists to believe that humans react in a similar way. Also because children with good bonds with their parents have an easier time making friends and developing relationships. This attachment can also help in other areas of emotional growth like increased self-esteem and feeling secure.
It’s important to mention that bonding is a process. Mothers who experience a long recovery after delivery may not be able to interact with their baby as much and that’s okay. There is no timeline to the bonding process and many easy activities like feeding and skin-to-skin contact provide your baby with that comforting bonding experience.
How babies bond
Babies display their feelings in unique ways since their methods of communication are limited. It can take some time to understand them. Here are some signs that your baby is bonding with you.
- Eye-to-eye contact can foster communication up close.
- Touch is soothing for your baby and serves as a way to communicate early on. Babies reaching for their parents indicate they want to spend time with you.
- Following movements, gestures, and objects with their eyes.
- Trying to imitate gestures.
- Making an effort to imitate sounds. Babies often find human voices comforting and interesting. They may take great joy in making their first vocalizations.
Things you can do
There are many ways you can bond with your baby and you may even be doing some of these things already. Moms and dads can explore some of these bonding methods to continue to grow this special attachment with their babies.
- Feedings. Especially those middle-of-the-night feedings and diaper changes.
- Reading to them.
- Singing to them.
- Mimicking their noises and vocalizations.
- Giving baths.
- Mirroring their movements.
- Skin-to-skin cuddle time.
- Look them in the eyes and talk to them. Narrate your day, thoughts, environment; whatever works.
- Give your baby an infant massage. Be sure to look up how to do this properly first.
- Tending to your baby’s needs when they cry for them.
Take the time to understand your baby’s unique quirks and interests. Are they sensitive to bright lights? Do they have a certain toy they love to touch? Is bath time their favorite time? Understanding what brings them joy and engaging in those activities is a great way to get to know your baby and provide them with fun and comfort. Similarly, knowing what they dislike also helps.
Bonding with your baby is not some monumental, time-sensitive activity. Bonding naturally happens in the small moments. And even though things like stress and discomfort can make bonding difficult, that’s okay. Making the effort to bond with your baby and enjoying shared time together goes a long way. And are some of the best ways to ensure your baby grows, feels secure, and is happy.
Sources: Nemours, Baby Center