Some may think that the bond between the parent and their baby comes naturally to everyone but that is simply not true. A bonding between parent and child is the feeling of love and care, of wanting to protect, cherish, and provide. For some, it comes as easy as seeing your newborn baby in your arms or even at the very beginning when you first see their rough figure during your ultrasound scan. For others, they may take time to develop this bond with their child.
Factors affecting bonding?
There are many factors that could cause the parent to feel unattached with their newborn child. It could be an external factor of which may involve the circumstances of the family and relationships issues. It could also be that they are not the natural parent of the child but foster ones.
“But don’t mothers…”- One may wonder how can a mother who had carried the child for months and still not feel a bond with the child. Well, hormones, and postpartum depression are some of the things that can affect bonding between the mother and her baby. Having to go through a difficult delivery or if your child had to go to intensive care unit immediately after birth may also cause a late bonding between the parent and child.
Why bonding is important?
The bond that you have with your baby will become your baby’s blueprint for their future relationship with others. Bonding fosters a sense of security for the baby and promotes self-esteem. It also affects the child’s social and cognitive development. Empathy, caring, loving nature can be nurtured when you bond with your baby.
How does a baby bond?
Although your baby may not converse with you in words and speeches, it communicates and understands through various other ways using their senses. These four ways of communicating with your baby can help a lot in bonding.
Touching your baby by holding its hands, caressing their cheeks, a little nose-to-nose bump can promote healthy growth and development. If you and your partner held the baby frequently, your baby will be able to differentiate between mom and dad.
Eye contact when talking or playing with your baby can help establish meaningful communication. You can also use their toys and make their eyes follow them which can aid with hand-eye coordination.
Mimicry is the basis of how babies pickup skills. In early stages, you can communicate with your baby through facial expressions and gestures. They may not be able to replicate it most of the time but it definitely helps to build the bond.
Babies love to hear your voice. Babies should already be able to distinguish their parents voices while still in the womb. Create conversations with your little one – talk about their activities and environment. In toddler stage, conversations can help your child develop their social and speech skills.
When it comes to bonding with the child, fathers may feel like they have to work harder in order to build that bond. Here are some ways dads can do in order to develop that nurturing feel with their baby!
1.Bonding Through Participation
Start from the very arrival of your baby, participate in the anticipation of labour! Labour can be a long and painful process for the mother. Being around the mother during this time up until the baby is delivered can help develop a spark of love and bond.
Feeding time is a good time to bond. Dad can take over feeding time during the morning as mom catch some extra winks of sleep. When your baby is older and is able to start eating solid, eating together with the whole family not only strengthen the relationship but also help your baby pickup proper eating skills.
If you are not sure how to start a conversation with your baby, you can talk to them through reading. Reading a book to your baby even though they may not understand it yet can help dad to bond with baby.
4.Bonding With Bath Time
Bath time can be a fun time for both you and your baby. Use this time to chat with them as you bath them and play around in the water. Taking the time to dry them after a bath also makes for a good bonding session.
Use the reverse card on your baby. Instead of them imitating you, try imitating what they do! From gestures to facial expression, mirroring your child can help establish a common ground with your baby making bonding with them much easier.
Whenever you are out and about with your baby, we suggest using a baby carrier instead of a stroller. A front baby carrier allows your baby to see what you see. Gets them to understand their environment and familiarize with your routine, gestures, and conversations.
7.Touching Your Face
If you have facial hairs or even stubbles, you can let your child touch the different textures on your face. The different textures being registered by your baby’s brain can help it develop too.
Other tips that you can do to bond:
Giving your baby a massage is also a great way to spend time and bond with your baby. The skin-to-skin contact The gentle massage can help soothe your baby and even help them to sleep more soundly. Make this part of your baby’s going to sleep routine to cue your baby that it is bed time!
Follow this video for a guide on baby massage!
You don’t necessarily need toys for this. A simple peek-a-boo, dancing to music, or making silly voices can go a long way. Enjoying play time with your baby allows them and you to share and communicate happiness and love.
Understanding Your Child
This may need a lot of observation from your part. To understand what is it that your baby requires from you may take some time but if fulfilled it can build the relationship and trust. You are not spoiling your baby when meeting their needs. Try to observe their behaviour, facial expressions, the sounds that they make when they are sad, happy or uncomfortable. Observe the reaction they make when you say or do something, and make note of it.
You don’t have to be a perfect parent in order to create a strong bond with your baby. You’re already doing great if you’re striving to be the best for your child. Remember parenting is a long educational journey. However, we do understand that parenting can take a toll on your physical and mental health. So it is also important for parents to manage their stresses well. If you find yourself, unable to cope anymore, it is okay to take a break. Ask friends, relatives or even your spouse to take charge to allow yourself a breather.
If you are happy, your child will be happier!