How to bond with your baby the right way
Bonding with a child is important to both you and the baby. From the first moments of life, the newborn needs attention, tenderness, close contact with his parents, especially with his mother. Such closeness builds a bond that makes the baby feel loved, accepted and respected, which in return makes the baby develop the essential mental and social skills. However, first-time moms might not know all the techniques needed to develop a bond with their baby, and in this article by Pacific Prime Hong Kong, we will give our reader a few tips on how to bond with your baby the right way.
Why is creating a bond with your baby important?
Creating a close emotional bond with the child should be important for every parent, as it is important for a child’s mental and social development. Babies usually attach to their main caregiver strongest, which is usually the mother, but they can certainly bond with other people, such as the father, grandparents and other family members, therefore, bonding is not only the mother’s task.
A child gifted with love and acceptance in early childhood, especially in the first two years of life, will grow up to be an independent person with high self-esteem who finds himself in the world and is able to establish good relationships with other people.
Reading the baby’s cues
Since babies rely completely on their parents for care, it is very important to learn to read the baby’s cues and try to recognize their needs. One of these cues could be a baby’s cry. That’s how newborn babies can get the caregiver’s attention to feed them, change diapers, or hug them. Responding to those cries shows the baby that the world is a good place, where his/her needs are being taken care of, and he/she feels safe and secure, and ready to learn and explore the world.
When you respond to your newborn’s needs, you will start seeing behavior or cues that show that the baby is bonded with you, and these can include the following:
- Making eye contact with you – babies like to look into your eyes
- Smiling, cooing, laughing or making other noises directed at you
- Holding out their arms to you and following you (once they can crawl)
- Trying to copy your moves or noises
- Crying for what they need while looking at you
How to bond with a baby?
Bonding with the baby is being attentive to its needs, showering it with love, verbal communication, and physical touch. Below, we will present a couple of ways that can strengthen the bond between the mother and her baby from the very beginning of the baby’s life.
The bonding starts during pregnancy
Bonding begins when the baby is born and even earlier during pregnancy – to be exact, from the 8th month, when the baby starts to recognize the mother’s voice. Therefore, chatting up your baby bump is a perfectly normal and amazing way to start creating that loving bond with your baby.
So if you talk to your baby bump and tell him how excited you are to greet it in the world, or read him/her stories or sing, the baby will recognize your voice after being born and your voice will be associated with closeness, warmth, and a sense of security.
The first couple of hours after delivery
The moment a child appears in the world is magical and unique. The first two hours after birth is the time devoted to your greeting, getting to know each other, the first direct contact. The baby should be close to you – ideally, right after birth, he should be naked on your bare breasts, covered with a warm diaper or blanket. Early skin-to-skin contact creates a special bond between the mother and the child.
Immediately after delivery, the baby is in the so-called higher activity. It is focused on finding a mother and captivating her – so let yourself be enchanted. Tenderly hug your baby, pat it, and make eye contact with it. Your newborn will feel safe and it will be easier for it to adapt to new conditions, which will pay off in the future.
Breastfeed your baby not only for nutrition
Natural breastfeeding is not only providing your child with the best food but also a unique opportunity to build closeness and trust. Oxytocin secreted during breast sucking, as well as close physical contact (listening to my mother’s heartbeat, looking into her eyes) creates a strong emotional bond between mother and child. Feeding your child can be a training opportunity. It allows you to better understand his facial expressions, gestures, and noises. Feeding on request, and even holding the baby to your breast as long as he wants to, teaches the little one that his needs are being met.
Caressing strengthens your bond with the child
The gentle touch of the mum, the warmth of her body, and her heartbeat soothe the baby. Hug the baby as often as possible, lay them on yourself, caress and massage them – from the first moments of life. Such physical closeness is necessary for the child. Cary the little one close to your body in a special shawl or baby carrier. Tickle, kiss, blow on their fingers, and massage their little hands and feet – the baby will love it.
Do not be afraid that the baby carried on the arms, snuggled and often swayed will become spoiled – babies cannot manipulate the environment. Children who can get saturated with their parents’ closeness will be more confident and independent in the future.
Look into the eyes so that the child has a good self-esteem
When you do anything near your child, especially when you talk to him/her, always try to look at him/her in the eye. Babies love to observe the human face, it’s how they communicate and learn from adults. According to studies, direct physical and eye contact in early childhood has a positive effect on self-esteem and relationships with people in adulthood. Poor eye contact with the mother, on the other hand, makes the child less sensitive and in the future, it will not show or reciprocate feelings.
React to the baby’s crying for confidence and trust-building
The child cries when it needs something, such as feeding, clothing because it is cold, as well as closeness, tenderness, and consolation. Don’t ignore it! Think of your baby’s crying as a chance for a better understanding of each other, for closer contact, for a moment when you can give him a sense of security and show him your love.
Thanks to this, you teach your child that you are close to him and respond to his needs. By ignoring crying, you let him know that his needs are not important to you. However, when a baby sees that their emotions and needs are important, he or she feels more confident and gains confidence in the world.
What if I’m not bonding with my baby?
Not all parents know what to do, and in fact, a study from the University of Rochester showed that nearly one-third of parents in the US do not know what to expect from their newborns, or how to properly bond and socialize with them. Articles like this one, or help from a midwife, your own parents, or guidebooks for parents are great sources for young parents to learn the essential skills for raising a healthy and happy baby.
What to do if the mother doesn’t feel the undying love and attachment for the baby?
Don’t worry if you don’t feel an attachment with your baby straight away. Sometimes, new mothers need more time to develop a bond, and that’s perfectly normal. However, if that state transfers into a feeling of guilt of not being able to care for the baby, or feelings of not loving it at all, you might be suffering from postnatal depression.
In fact, postnatal depression is a common issue, affecting 13% to 19% of women worldwide, and unfortunately, as much as 85 % of women suffer from milder versions of the illness. When it comes to expat mothers, they might be even more prone to postnatal depression. This is because they are deprived of a support system of a family or friends they would normally have at home.
Seeking help is essential if you suspect you are developing signs of postnatal depression; check with your maternity insurance provider and talk to your doctor or other health professionals, including mental health specialists about your worries.
What if the baby doesn’t bond with me?
If you suspect your baby is not bonding with you correctly, such as not reacting to your voice or avoiding eye contact, it is best not to speculate and take your infant to a healthcare specialist. While they are certain timeframes that dictate a normal child’s development, every baby is different.
The most important thing parents can do is to prepare for the baby to come into this world. Being financially stable can hugely reduce the stress and allow parents to focus on parenting instead of worrying about how to pay for the baby delivery price in Hong Kong or other items such as vaccinations and control doctor visits. Pacific Prime Hong Kong specializes in individual, maternity, and family health insurance plans for expatriates. Our advisors are always ready to help you compare and choose the best plan for you and your family’s insurance needs.
When she isn’t writing, you are most likely to find Elwira in search of the perfect plant-based burger or enjoying Hong Kong’s great outdoors either at the beach or from the boat - the closer to the sea, the better!
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