Finding your feet as a new parent can be nerve-wracking at the best of times, but the one aspect of parenting you’ll never have to second-guess is the love you feel for your baby. Most little ones spend their early days soaking up as much information as possible from the world around them, which means there’s no better time to show them love and grow your bond. If you’re feeling unsure, try some of these simple, natural ways to strengthen your growing relationship with your baby.
Make eye contact
In the months leading up to your baby’s arrival, you probably saw several ultrasound images of him or her in the womb, each of them building on the initial bond. Although ultrasounds are becoming more impressive and detailed, with some even available in 3D or 4D, they can’t compare to the reality of looking into your baby’s eyes for the first time. Try to make eye contact whenever possible to strengthen your bond with your baby, but especially during moments filled with positive emotions, like feeding or play time – this will strengthen the association your baby makes between those emotions and you.
This most primal instinct is one of nature’s best bonding hacks for mother and baby. Your milk is the perfect combination of nutrients for a growing infant, making it the best thing your baby could drink during their first few months of life, plus, you also get the benefit of physical closeness during the feeding process. Breastfeeding may not always be easy, but you can make the process easier by researching techniques or extracting your milk into a bottle by machine.
Make physical contact
Skin-to-skin is a well-known bonding technique, and not just during those pivotal moments immediately after birth. Giving your baby direct skin contact can have a long list of health benefits for them, including more stable body temperature, heart rate, and respiratory rate, and it’s also a great way to create a physical bond as they come to share the same bacteria as you. In this way, your baby will come to associate your unique scent with comfort and safety.
As a new parent, you might have heard that teaching your baby to self-soothe is important,
However, in the first few weeks and months of your child’s life, that all-important bond between the two of you will be strengthened by your attentiveness to their needs. Your baby will come to understand and trust that you will take care of them and protect them from negative experiences, so don’t be afraid to hold them when they cry.
Read to them
There’s something magical about a children’s book filled with vibrant, colourful illustrations, and it’s never too early to start exposing your baby to that magic. No matter how young they are, babies’ impressionable minds are capable of soaking up a great deal of information, and it can come from just about anywhere. The added benefit of reading to your baby is that they’ll be exposed to the sound of your voice, which is a hugely important part of the bonding process.
Go on adventures together
Contrary to old-fashioned opinion, having a baby doesn’t have to restrict you to your home. In fact, something as simple as a walk around the block and some fresh air can do both of you a world of good.
You might even want to plan some more exciting outings, like a trip to the park, the zoo, or a playground, and when you do get outside together, take the opportunity to get some happy snaps and turn your day outings into lasting memories.
Find the resemblance
You might have an old photo albums from your childhood stashed away in the attic, but how often do you really look at them? Once you have a child of your own, these memory treasure troves are great for more than just reminiscing about old times – they can also help you bond with your baby over the physical similarities between the two of you. Even if their dominant features seem to resemble your partner, seek out any match, no matter how seemingly insignificant, and let it fill you with warmth.
A new baby is the beginning of a long, beautiful adventure, and you should savour every moment while you can. There will be plenty of challenges along the way, but the loving bond you create with your child in their early days will help you make it through each day intact.