A bond is the attachment between the parents and their new born baby. Typically, attachment is not just formed because you gave birth to them and is not formed just by simply loving the baby. It is actually when your baby and you both feel that you understand each other, it’s the bond that makes you rush into the room when the baby shows discomfort or what makes you wake up at midnight to feed your baby. Such a bond is formed by carefully observing behaviour and reacting sensitively to it, smiling at them, cuddling them etc.
Research also shows that how an individual in their 20s acts and reacts towards arguments, affection and disagreements is directly related to how they were treated as babies. So, no matter how tired you are from being new parents or how absorbed you are in fulfilling all the new responsibilities, it’s very important you take time to notice nonverbal cues (your baby is noticing yours too) and trust the process of forming this special attachment. To make this journey of understanding familiar to you here are some ways you can form this bond in a nurturing way.
1. Use your phone as little as possible when with the newborn:
Babies can pick up easily on when they get attention and when they don’t. Therefore, take this time away from technology to talk to your infant, give them descriptions of what you are doing, practice a loving tone and play with them. However, some infants can also withdraw from playing when they are overstimulated, notice that, give them the space and try to let them know that you understand them so that they feel safe.
2. Get your spouse, family members or babysitter to help you out and distribute tasks:
You don’t always have to assume all the responsibility, get help from people you stay with so that you don’t get overwhelmed. This will also help you get some time away from the baby to renew your emotions and do something you enjoy like exercising, yoga or taking a stroll. To form a healthy bond with your baby it is also very important to take care of your own self so that you can put forward your most nurturing self for the baby.
3. Don’t leave dad out:
Dads tend to spend a lot of time with the newborn too whether or not they are the primary caregivers therefore it is very important for dads to make an effort to bond with the baby too. Dads can read, sing or talk to the baby which helps the baby calm down during fussy times, bottle-feeding is also a time when dads can bond by talking, smiling at the baby and looking into the babies’ eyes. Participating in the delivery process of the baby and doing things like diaper change and baths also helps dads feel more in touch and in tune with the emotions of the baby.
4. Understand when your baby is making an effort to bond and react to it:
Infants tend to follow you walking around the room with their eyes, they reach out to touch you and are amused by the different textures on your face, they also imitate your facial expressions and make efforts to communicate with you in the tone that you communicate with them in. Reacting to these by allowing the baby to touch your face, making cooing sounds or having a conversation with them even though they don’t understand you, are some things you can do to make the baby feel heard and understood in a very comforting way.
5. Correct issues that may be creating a hurdle in bonding with your baby:
Ideally bonding is not a challenging task at all however If your baby has nervous system issues, had trouble in the womb or during delivery, premature babies and babies who were separated from their primary caregivers may have trouble with attachment and bonding. Not only the baby, when parents have mental health issues or stress, this might also hinder the attachment process with the baby. Problems like this are best noticed at early stages and efforts can be made to correct them on your own or with the help of a paediatrician/infant mental health professional.
There is no rigid formula to bonding, it is a subjective process and requires time and effort. There might be challenging moments through this bonding journey. However all of it will be worth it because it makes the relationship between you and your baby special, filled with mutual understanding and love.