baby laying on a blanket

5 Tips For Bonding With Your Newborn

August 14, 2023

Bonding with your baby is one of those things that many of us take for granted. We assume it’ll happen and that it’ll happen immediately, but the reality is that it can be something that happens more gradually. After all, despite carrying your baby for 9 months, there’s still a lot of unfamiliarity once they’re born. You spent all this time imagining what they’d look like and feeling all their little movements every day, but it’s completely normal to feel a disconnect from who you thought you knew to who you actually hold in your arms during those first few hours, days, and maybe even weeks. Although some parents feel that intense attachment straightaway, it may take a little longer for others. If you’re in the latter camp, don’t worry. Bonding is a process that happens with everyday caregiving, and as you care for your newborn’s needs, it won’t be long before you’re wondering how you ever lived a single day without your sweet babe. Here are some tips to speed up that process:

1. Do plenty of skin-to-skin

As soon as your baby is born, they’ll be placed on your chest for golden hour, which refers to the first hour after birth when a mom has uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact with her baby. This is a critical time period for your newborn and helps regulate their body temperature, control their respiration and lower the risk of low blood sugar. As long as there are no complications and both you and baby are doing well, this skin-to-skin contact during golden hour is guaranteed to happen, and the benefits go both ways. Not only does it facilitate breastfeeding and gently transition your little one from womb to world, it increases oxytocin in your body to decrease postpartum bleeding, minimize the risk of hemorrhage, decrease anxiety, lower the risk of postpartum depression, and help you bond with your baby.

Even if you and your baby are not able to have golden hour together due to complications, doing plenty skin-to-skin at home for the first few months provides all those same benefits. Once you’re back home, make skin-to-skin a daily practice, leaving your little one in just a diaper and cuddling them upright on your bare chest for an hour or so. If it’s a little chilly, you can lay a light blanket over the both of you. This uninterrupted time between you and your baby provides a much-needed oxytocin boost to make you feel all those warm fuzzies and become intimately connected with your little one.

2. Look into your baby’s eyes during feedings

Newborns can only see about 8-12 inches away, and although that’s not very far, it makes your face the perfect thing for their eyes to focus on—especially during feedings. Whether you breastfeed or bottle feed your baby, use a nursing pillow with a soft cover to hold your baby more easily. Look into their eyes as they feed, letting them focus their gaze on your face. For the past 9 months, you have been your baby’s whole world, and now they’re putting a face to the familiar smell and feel of you that comforts them so effectively. Loving, warm eye contact is vital for building secure attachment with your little one, and it’s one of the few ways you can communicate with each other in these early days.

baby sleeping on a nursing pillow in their mother's arms

3. Read and sing to your baby

Even if your baby can’t understand what you’re saying quite yet, reading to your baby teaches them about communication, boosts their language skills, and stimulates their brain. Even though it might not seem like they do much in these early days, their brain is like a sponge, taking in new information every second and making incredibly complex connections. When it comes to music, we know that it’s far more powerful for the brain than we can understand. Studies show that infants prefer a mother’s singing to speech, and are able to relax to a lullaby in any language. Even if you think you can’t carry a tune, your singing has long-lasting benefits on your baby’s development. So, belt away!

4. Wear your baby

Similarly to how skin-to-skin promotes intense attachment to mother and baby, baby wearing helps build a strong relationship for your baby to thrive. Not only does baby wearing make your life easier (it’s amazing how much more you can get done when your hands are free), babies who are worn in a carrier are more easily soothed, more likely to be calm, and cry less because they are close to their mother. By keeping your baby physically close to your heart as you move about the house or go for a walk, you give yourself an oxytocin boost to promote that bonding between you and your little one.

5. Lay down on the floor during tummy time

Tummy time is one of those things you can’t get away from, no matter how much your baby protests. Your baby might love it, or they might hate it, but it’s a necessary part of their development and builds all that head, neck, and trunk strength that they’ll need to roll over, sit up, crawl, and walk. To make it more engaging, get down on your tummy and look at your baby’s face. Seeing you in their line of sight will give them incentive to lift their heads and can be the first way you two play together. A soft, supportive play mat will make it easier for both of you, and can provide a nice, comfortable space for you to spend time on the floor with your little one.

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5 Tips For Bonding With Your Newborn

About the Author: Alice

Alice Mendoza is a copywriter and blog writer based in Los Angeles. She began writing for a baby brand while on maternity leave, and realized she had found her niche. Today, she writes exclusively within the baby space, using her BFA in Creative Writing and her own experience as a mother to guide her. When she’s not working, you can find her chasing down her toddler, going on walks around the neighborhood, or watching reality TV.

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