Some parents feel an intense bond with their baby during pregnancy, within the first minutes or days after birth. For others, it may take a bit longer. Bonding is a process, not something that takes place within minutes and not something to be limited to happening within a certain time period after birth. This is important for both mums and dads.
Bonding and being close to their parents enables a baby to feel secure and affects how he/she will interact communicate and form relationships later in life. The bond you and your baby develop is a key factor in the way your baby’s brain develops and influences his/her emotional, intellectual and physical development.
Even in the first days of life, your baby tunes in to your tone of voice, your gestures and your emotions and sends you signals by crying, cooing, mimicking facial expressions and eventually smiling, laughing, pointing and even yelling. In return you watch and listen to your baby’s cries and sounds and respond sensitively to their cues. At the same time as you tend to their need for food, warmth, comfort and affection.
Your baby’s secure attachment grows out of the success of this communication process between you and your baby. With almost every touch your newborn is learning about life.
Things you can do to promote your bond with your baby include:
Keep your baby close to you, so you can listen and notice his/her signals to tell you he/she is hungry or wants a cuddle. Your baby will feel more relaxed and secure knowing you are close by.
Respond when your baby cries. Try to understand what he or she is saying to you. You can’t “spoil” babies with too much attention, they need and benefit from a parent’s love and care, even when they seem inconsolable.
Take time to have skin to skin contact with your baby. www.unicef.org.uk/babyfriendly/baby-friendly-resources
Breastfeed your baby if you can.
If you choose to bottle feed, hold your baby close and look into his/her eyes during feeds.
Talk, read and sing . Babies love to hear human voices and will try to imitate your voice and the sounds you make, hold your baby about 30cm away from your face, try to make eye contact as you do this. (If she turns away don’t feel disheartened, he/she is just taking a little break ).
Baby massage : This may be available at your children’s centre www.sutton.gov.uk or you can ask your health visitor for information about our Health Visitor Service led baby massage groups that may be offered if you are experiencing difficulties that could affect your bond with your baby.
Positive interactions, holding, and sharing happiness with your baby is really important.
Learning about your babies different “states” will help you know when your baby is ready for play or when he/she needs a break or rest. https://ihv.org.uk/Understanding-Baby.pdf
More useful information about bonding, early interactions and baby states can be found at www.aimh.org.uk/getting-to-know-your-baby
or on the Baby Buddy app
UNICEF Building a Happy Baby Leaflet:
As your baby gets a little older, try simple games and toys. Once your baby can sit up, plan on spending lots of time on the floor with toys, puzzles, and books.
Sutton Children’s Centres offer a variety of fun activities for you to share with your baby. https://www.sutton.gov.uk
Ready Steady Mums
Our volunteer-led community exercise and movement sessions are a great way of having fun and bonding with your baby. Find out more about this programme at https://www.ihv.org.uk/families
If you are worried or having difficulties bonding with your baby, please contact your health visitor for support on 020 8770 5409