How to Bond With Baby: For Both Mom and Dad
June 22, 2015
Building a bond with baby, or forming a bond with baby is an important thing for both moms and dads. As you welcome your new little one into the world and into your family, here are some ways to allow both parents to bond with baby.
There are many benefits that come from skin-to-skin time, including reduced post-partum depression, easing the breastfeeding process and enhancing bonding. Initiate skin-to-skin time right after your baby is born, if possible. Let your doctor and nurse know, while you’re in labor, that one of your goals is to have skin-to-skin time upon baby’s arrival. The first hour of a baby’s life is often referred to as “The Golden Hour,” and in these 60 minutes, skin-to-skin time is so helpful in establishing a bond. Skin-to-skin time doesn’t have to be just Mom and baby in The Golden Hour. Dad can be involved, too, and get some time in with your little one.
Skin-to-skin time should continue beyond that first hour of life. Take advantage of the newborn period and regularly have skin-to-skin time. For breastfeeding moms, it may help ease the learning curve and encourage baby to latch. For all moms, studies show skin-to-skin time increases endorphins, which can help you fight the baby blues.
Babies crave closeness and the warmth from their parents and caretakers, the same closeness and warmth that comes from cuddling. As with skin-to-skin time, baby-wearing offers many benefits to both babies and parents. Baby-wearing is a wonderful way to keep baby close and secure—hands-free—which means you can get things done around the house, run errands or accomplish a dozen other things, all while keeping baby right on your chest.
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Moms and dads can participate in baby wearing. The closeness and time spent wearing baby helps create a bond that is so crucial for your little one.
Snuggle, sing and soothe
In other words, spend time with your baby. Sing or hum to him or her, while rocking in the glider, walking around the house or even just sitting on the couch. It’s never too early to start reading to your child, either. In addition to reading books, simply talk to your child, telling him or her about your day or talk through what you’re doing (e.g., “I’m going to change the laundry, then turn on the crockpot.”). These seemingly insignificant conversations are communication—it’s not necessarily the topic that’s important, but the talking, and your baby hearing your voice.
In addition to the talking and singing, soothe your baby. Babies cry to let us know they need something, so attend to those cries and needs and soothe baby, letting him or her know you are there. This will help form a bond and establish a connection between baby and parent.
Make eye contact with baby
The same principle holds true for adults. Think about a situation where you’re talking with someone, whether it’s a co-worker, client, neighbor or anyone else. The feeling and takeaway from the conversation is much different when they are maintaining eye contact, as opposed to looking around, focusing on something else or shifting their eyes constantly. Your baby feels the same way, and something as simple as making eye contact can help establish or build upon an emotional bond. For example, when you are rocking or cuddling with your baby, make eye contact with him or her. Soon enough, he or she will recognize your features and know who you are and connect that with the way they feel when they are with you.
Both breastfeeding and bottle-feeding help form a bond. For moms who breastfeed, a bond is created due in part to the hormone oxytocin, which is sometimes referred to as the “love hormone.” Oxytocin is what causes a milk “let down,” and studies have found the presence of this hormone enhances a mother’s feelings and emotions, which can help form or further a bond (source).
For parents who bottle feed (and this also applies to moms who breastfeed), the feeding process allows you a close, intimate experience with your little one. Take advantage of feedings to get more one-on-one time, complete with cuddling and closeness, with your baby.
Dads—even if Mom is breastfeeding, you can still be involved in feeding times, and get some bonding in as well. Have Mom pump a bottle ahead of time, and then take a middle-of-the-night feeding. Mom will greatly appreciate the extra sleep, and you’ll love that uninterrupted time with just you and your sweet baby.
Whether it’s snuggling, feeding time or baby-wearing, enjoy that bonding time between you and your sweet baby.
We want to hear from you—what are some ways you bond with your baby?
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