New moms often describe how the pain and anxiety of childbirth disappears the minute they greet their new babies. Those tiny bundles of joy cuddles right up, swaddled and content to be held. When the baby comes home, new parents may experience a few moments of panic. Are we forming a strong attachment? Is our baby responding to us normally? Parents who are concerned about connecting to their new babies and the babies’ attachment to them can consider some of these tips and tricks for bonding with baby.
Provide a Sense of Security
Responding to your baby’s cries, cuddling and holding your baby, and keeping the baby close to you provides a sense of security and safety. Newborns can’t see very well, but they respond to touch, warmth, and the associated feelings of affection. Skin-to-skin contact, where you can each sense the other’s heartbeat and breathing, mimics the connection formed in the womb, and it’s a great way to bond with the baby. Wear your baby in a sling or carrier as you go about your daily routine.
Sing, Talk, Coo, and Smile
Babies respond to voices and notice and respond to close-up faces and eye contact. Most parents instinctively use a singsong “parentese” voice with a variety of simple, high-pitched sounds. Exaggerate your facial expressions as you caress your baby’s face. Sing and talk to your baby and observe how they respond—babies will begin to mimic facial expressions and smiles, which is the start of back-and-forth communication and language development. Make big smiles, silly faces, chirrs, and “raspberries” to entertain your baby.
The best thing for your baby is simply your adoring attention. Put the phone down, stop worrying about the laundry, and just spend time showing baby how you love to touch their nose and count their toes. Make eye contact, especially during feedings, so that the baby associates you with alleviation of their hunger. You are their source of nourishment.
Introduce a stuffed animal friend and play together. Tell your baby a story about their new pal. Make the associated animal sounds or create a special “voice” for their toy. Babies may show a preference for one toy over another, so take note of those the baby prefers. Toys with soft, squeezable textures, such as our cashmere stuffed animals, give baby a fun and comfortable way to play.
For some parents, bonding with baby isn’t immediate—but don’t worry. Bonds develop over time, and as long as you’re giving your baby lots of love and attention, your attachment will grow.