What is bonding?
Bonding is a process of developing deep, lasting attachment between you and your baby during the first few years of life. It does not only involve skin-to-skin contact, bonding can also be developed with eye contact and daily interactions with your baby.
Why is bonding important?
The attachment is important for baby’s body and mind development. Bonding makes babies feel loved and they have a better chance of growing to be an adult who trust others and know how to return affection.
Here are 4 ways to bond with your baby:
Breastfeed or bottle feed
Hold your baby in your arms, let your baby attached to your smell and touch during feedings. Look at your baby’s face when they are feeding; establish and maintain eye contact and be sensitive to their cues if he or she wants to look away. You can also talk to your baby during feeding. It is important to be present at this moment – put your phone and other devices away and focus 100% on your baby’s feeding.
Hold your baby skin-to-skin
Skin-to-skin means having baby’s naked skin next to yours. It calms and relaxes both mother and baby and help regulate your baby’s heart rate and breathing. This helps them to better adapt to life outside your womb. Here’s how:
- Hold your baby right after birth during the golden hour.
- Lie down with your baby on your chest, make sure you will not fall asleep.
- Sit up while holding your baby skin-to-skin, keep your baby upright with her chest against your chest with just a nappy.
- You may do Kangaroo Care too if you have things to get on with.
Talk, read and sing to your baby
You can do this when cleaning baby’s mouth, changing diaper, putting on clothes and bathing your baby. Here are some tips:
- Speak more slowly
- Say some words softly, and others in a more excited way
- Use a soft voice and higher pitch, sometimes called parentheses, to let your baby know you are speaking just to him/her
- Play some music and sing along
- Say a few words or short sentences, and repeat them over and over
- Call your baby’s name
- Say things that make your baby smile and laugh
Look into your baby’s eyes
Having eye contact with your baby is important for his/her brain development and emotional connection. Feeding is the absolute perfect opportunity. If you baby starts to make eye contact, you can also start talking, smiling and singing to them. Don’t look away before your baby does, hold their gaze for as long as he or she is interested. Once they look away, respect that your baby may be tired or just had enough.
Please remember that you cannot “spoil” your baby with too much attention. They need your attention and they benefit from your loving care. The love and attention you give your baby now will stay with him or her forever and it will help your baby grow into a healthier and happier child and adult.