Bonding with baby can make parents experience one of the best feelings in their lives. It's one of those great mysteries of nature that can hardly be described.
Anyway, we're gonna try to do so in this article! Let's start by saying that baby bonding refers to the endearing relationship that connects parents with their babies, usually starting from the moment the little ones come to life. In other words, bonding with baby is the indecipherable code that leads you to respond to your baby's needs, care about him and, in general, love him like you'd never loved before (don't tell Dad!).
Bonding with your baby is precisely what provides him with a solid foundation to become a well-rounded and empathetic person in the future, so you shouldn't ignore its power. Such pure emotions are complex, aren't they? After birth, it's normal to wonder if you are doing the right things to create this lifelong link between you and your child. Well, if you need some help, here's some advice and useful information about how to bond with your baby.
Bonding with baby: How can I do it?
There are many ways of bonding with baby. Some of them are natural and necessary, while there are others, more creative, that you can come up with depending on the level of attachment to your child. Anyway, these are the common ways to win your baby's heart:
- Breastfeeding: not only can breastfeeding provide your child with the necessary nutrients and decrease the risk of certain conditions, but it can also build a strong connection between the two of you. While nursing him, you learn how to read his facial expressions and body language, whereas he'll rapidly associate you with a source of food, comfort and protection. If you have to or decide to bottle-feed him, instead, don't worry, because that won't keep you from bonding with your baby. What's more, Dad will be able to do it too!
- Skin to skin contact: skin to skin, along with eye-to-eye, are perfect ways to bond with your baby, especially right after giving birth and during the baby's first weeks of life. Though there are times when that's not possible, because of medical complications like needing a C-section or having a premature child, don't fall into despair. You'll have plenty of time to do so in the next days, weeks, months and years!
- Chatting, singing and smiling: remember that babies are able to hear sounds clearly and loudly even when they are inside the womb. This means that once he's born, it won't take long for your child to know your voice, which may settle him, above all if you sing. Also, studies have shown that newborns can recognise smiles despite their, still, limited vision, so here you have another way to bond with the baby.
- Cuddling: who can resist the unlimited power of cuddles? Pretty sure, neither you nor your baby can. Hold him close, with your skin touching his, so that you can both feel each other's bodies, which can be very soothing. You can add some 'baby massage' to the experience to make it even better.
- Dancing: your baby will probably have a blast if he watches you dancing close to him (it can distract him if he's upset, for example) or if he gets twirled around by you.
Bonding with baby: What if I don't bond?
As stated above, some women have chemistry with their babies right after welcoming them into the world, but it may not happen that way. This is one of those clichés that we all have seen in lots of films, but there's no true picture here. You don't have to feel guilty if you don't burst with joy when you catch a first glimpse of your munchkin, since every person is different and has his or her own way of dealing with emotions. Also, don't forget that going into labour can be very overwhelming and leave you exhausted for several days, so don't be harsh on yourself. As long as you are willing to take good care of your baby, the bond will happen spontaneously.
Bonding with baby: When to worry
Though there isn't a specific time to develop a strong bond with your baby, you should be concerned if, several weeks after childbirth, you show no feelings for him. What's more, it may be possible that somehow you resent your baby or you feel even more detached from him than you did during his first days of life. If that's the case, you should talk to your doctor about it, as you may be suffering from postnatal depression.
Baby bonding is great, but you shouldn't set bad precedents by just focusing on your child. It's important that you have time for yourself, so that you don't end up neglecting your own needs. Take turns with Dad (of course, he will bond too!) and you both make sure to save some time for each other. Boundaries are vital to raise a 'healthy' family.
In short, you shouldn't overthink bonding with baby. Yes, you can definitely put some of our suggestions into practice, but you'll do most of them without even realising. You won't have to force anything, since feelings will grow before you know it.