How to Bond With Your Baby
Are you wondering how to bond with your baby? You’re not the only one! Bonding is a process, and it takes most parents some time to find their “groove” when it comes to connecting with their little one. In the beginning, you and your baby are relative strangers to one another. In some ways, building a relationship with your baby takes place just like it does with other people in your life—it happens over time. Eventually, though, you will learn each other’s cues, preferences, and idiosyncrasies. Finding ways to connect with your baby and facilitate the development of a secure attachment isn’t about being perfect, or responding to every single cue or cry. Rather, it is about being present and attuned—living in the now, doing your best to meet your baby’s needs, and soaking up each sweet moment together. Read on for some tips!
1) Look at each other in the mirror together. At first, your baby will not know that she is looking at her reflection, and will not understand this concept. But, babies enjoy looking at faces, and especially love looking at the familiar faces of their caregivers. Try making some silly faces in the mirror. As your baby gets older, she will be able to mimic your facial expressions and might even reach out for the mirror.
2) Carry your baby in a sling or carrier. This is also known as “kangaroo care.” Research shows that holding your baby close may actually reduce crying. Less crying means happier babies and happier parents. Plus, you can’t beat the convenience factor of hands-free carrying.
3) Read to your baby. Initially, your baby won’t seem too interested in books. Over time, though, most babies will start to look at the pictures and reach out to touch them. Touch-and-feel books are a great way to make reading interactive and get your baby involved.
4) Mirror your baby’s movements. Doing this activates mirror neurons, the neurons in our brain that fire when we do something that is then “mirrored” or copied by someone else. It is now well-established that the activation of mirror neurons is associated with experiences of attunement, secure attachment, and generally feeling seen and understood. So, the next time your baby raises his arms or kicks his legs, try doing the same thing.
5) Make diaper changes fun. Okay, I know how this one sounds…but hear me out! The average baby goes through 2,500 diapers in the first year. That is a LOT of diaper changes—why not try to make them enjoyable? Diaper changes are a good time for massaging your baby’s little arms and legs, singing, making goofy faces, or telling stories.
6) Talk to your baby. Did you know that babies are able to recognize their parents’ voices in the womb? Try narrating what you are doing throughout your day. You can do this during baths, meals, or play time. Your baby already knows and loves the sound of your voice, and talking to her will help you to feel more connected to her as well.
By: Michelle Jackson, Psy.D.
Hunziker, U., & Barr, R. (1986). Increased carrying reduces infant crying: A randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics, 7, 641-648.
Senland, A. (2015). The neuroscience of human relationships: Attachment and the developing social brain. Journal of Moral Education, 44(1), 116-119.