A Parent's Guide for Bonding with your Baby

Updated: Aug 13, 2019

What is Bonding? How do I do it?

Bonding is the growth of a strong attachment between you and baby, it means loving and caring for your baby whilst often feeling a strong urge to protect them from any danger. This can feel like a lot of worry and anxiety, this is normal and a natural instinct, something you will get used to.

Bonding with baby, mum caring for baby
Small things entertain babies, follow their gaze to see what they are interested in.

Bonding Steps to Success

Some mums and dads worry they are not bonding with their baby, especially with newborns as they can't talk or laugh or smile yet. It is important to know that simply by being there with your baby and providing their daily needs (food, shelter, warmth and attention) that they are bonding with you.

Your voice, smell and face are what a baby learns first. By constantly talking and smiling to your baby during the day in a calm and cheerful voice no matter what you are doing, they will feel reassured and get to know you further. If you feel confident you can even start talking to your baby before they are born.

In the same way you will get to know your baby's noises, pay close attention to all their small sounds, grizzles and wiggles. Watch them when they are awake, as they go to sleep and when they are sleeping. You will soon learn what is normal for your baby. Be aware of an average baby's needs and then adapt them to suit your baby so they feel like you understand them and keep them content. By providing their needs appropriately they will feel valued and closer to you.

Anyone in the family can bond with your baby. Older children often bond easily as they find they are good at entertaining the baby.

Some carers build stronger attachments than others if they are looking after the baby more frequently.

How long does it take to bond?

Sometimes tiredness and exhaustion from birth or if a baby has to go into special care can mean that parents don’t get intense feelings of attachment after birth. This is normal and can easily be built up over time. It is not essential to hold baby straight after birth in order to bond with them, babies can forget anyway, it takes a while for them to remember you and grow attached.Research shows that the speed of bonding between parents and baby does not affect their relationships later on.

newborn baby in special care, bonding with baby from birth, Swaddling To Toddling antenatal course, baby care and labour, Bristol
It takes on average 2 weeks for parents to feel a close bond with their baby.

Bonding When In Special Care

Soon after birth some babies can be taken into special care to give them the best opportunities for a healthy start. This can be difficult for parents as they might not be able to hold, talk to and look after their baby as much as they want to. It is important to talk to the doctors and nurses about times when you can touch, speak to and see your baby. You can still bond with your baby, but their health is most important.

Bonding Throughout The First Year

Bonds change for the baby as they grow. From birth they are getting to know you, your voice, how to communicate with you and begin to understand what you are saying. At 6 months they will begin to realise that when you leave the room you aren’t there anymore, this can be very upsetting for them. From about 9/10 months they will become particularly upset when you leave the room from separation anxiety as they worry you might not return.

Bonding with your child, playing boo to bond
Play Peekaboo to Build Trust

To maintain your bond with your baby you can still leave the room but use subtle strategies to ease their anxiety. Practice hiding and appearing again with the popular game of Boo! Smile as you leave and cheerfully say "I'm coming back!"

Soon they will learn to trust that you will return and that leaving isn't a sad thing. Say goodbye to toys and teddy bears as you leave rooms so they understand that things can be left but they come back.

10 Top Tips for Bonding

1. Enjoy feeding, dressing and changing them, this is a good way to get to know their character.

2. Sing and imitate their sounds.

3. Make eye contact with them.

4. Give yourself time to just be or play with your little one.

5. Narrate everything you do during the day in a calm cheerful voice.

6. Look at their body language and think about what they’re feeling or experiencing.

7. When your baby is alert, focus on them, hold them, notice what positions they prefer.

8. Be aware of when babies might need feeding, a nap or bedtime so you can notice their subtle signs for hunger and sleepiness.

9. Understand your priorities, aims and values for being a parent so that you feel confident in your choices and content with your baby.

10. Most importantly smile and laugh with your baby giving them 100% of your attention, without being distracted by technology.

Swaddling To Toddling logo, baby care and labour classes, Bristol antenatal

Swaddling To Toddling Antenatal Course

Learn effective ways of picking up baby to maximise bonding in the early days after the birth with Swaddling To Toddling antenatal classes in Bristol. Be confident and feel prepared for your baby, book online now so you can feel organised in your pregnancy.

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