Forming a deep connection to your new baby doesn’t always happen overnight. But this important step can set up parents and infants for healthier lives. Make bonding a priority in your family and give your child a head start on developing emotional well-being.
Why Bonding Matters
A child’s first relationship is the one she has with her parents. It creates a model for future interactions. Bonding helps encourage emotional growth. The way parents respond to children’s needs builds trust and reinforces communication skills. A strong bond with her parents is good for self-esteem and can help her develop strong social and mental skills.
It’s also good for parents. The connection created by bonding with an infant can help sooth the frazzled edges caused by sleepless nights and release feel-good chemicals called endorphins. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can all start enjoying the benefits.
Bonding can start even before your baby makes his arrival. Talk to your belly, enjoy the nudges coming from your growing child and enjoy preparing for the new arrival by setting up a nursery and choosing a name. All these steps are important for preparing to become a parent. On arrival day, initiate skin-to-skin contact with your new little one as soon as possible. This encourages the release of oxytocin, a hormone related to childbirth and breastfeeding, and helps initiate bonding. Dads can get in on this, too, so don’t be shy.
The ways you can connect will change as your baby grows and develops. Even in those early days you can try making eye contact, talking to your baby, laughing and telling him stories. Feeding is another powerful bonding activity, especially for mothers who choose to breastfeed.
If you’re having trouble connecting right away, take heart. It can take weeks or even months to form a bond with your baby. Every family is different. It’s important that you keep on trying and reach out for help if you need it. Your doctor or pediatrician may have suggestions that make bonding easier and keep you both on track.