They say that not every new mom or dad immediately bonds with their newborn when they come into the world. And although that may be true in some instances, there are ways that you can show your newborn that you love them and you’re glad to have them here. Whether you fell in love at first sight, or are still ‘feeling out’ life with a new baby, here are 12 simple ways you can bond with your newborn today.1. Become a close talker
We laughed when we saw it on Seinfeld, but in real life, this is a great way to bond with your newborn. It’s said that newborns don’t have very good eyesight, so getting up close to your baby’s face and speaking gently to them can help the bonding experience.
2. Cheek to cheek…
Or skin to skin, is more like it. A newborn’s most sensitive part just after birth is it’s skin, so having skin to skin contact with your baby is also a great way to bond. In fact, many hospitals are now encouraging new moms to hold their babies to their bare chest in the moments just after birth in order to help the baby warm up and feel secure, while allowing you to bond with him. You can also do this at home by making sure neither of you has a shirt on, and cuddle him onto your chest and drape a blanket on you both (so as to keep your baby’s back warm as well).
Considering that newborns will eat often at first (usually anywhere from every hour to every three hours), it can seem like a lot of time is spent giving a bottle or breastfeeding. Take advantage of these quiet moments and look down into your baby’s face while they’re eating. You can also stroke their face gently at this time. They say that feeding time is a time when newborns are most aware, especially of who is giving them that need. Keep in mind that if you’re breastfeeding, pumping bottles for later not only helps Dad get in on the bonding, but also allows him to get up in the middle of the night and lets you get some extra sleep!
The right music can relax anyone, so why not put on some tunes and sway around with your baby in your arms? A personal favorite in the first months of my daughter’s life was some Jason Mraz, and “dancing” with her really helped not only with bonding, but also with stress reduction.
Using a playful and quiet tone, tease your baby while tickling them in the usual “easy” spots, like the bottoms of their feet, under the arms, the neck, etc. The playful touch can help you bond with baby, and also might induce an early smile! Just watch for cues as to when baby’s had enough.
6. Singing and talking
Maybe you’d feel silly singing and talking out loud to your baby when they don’t understand you or can’t even answer in any way. But by singing or talking to your baby, you’re bonding with them and showing attention. It can be as simple as singing along to the radio, or telling them about what you’re doing. You can say things like, “Look! Mommy’s changing your diaper right now” or “Wow, Daddy just loves your cute little tummy”. But constant conversation with baby, as one-sided as it seems at first, will make baby feel closer to you and also teach them the mechanics of conversation early on.
7. Bath time
Although some babies may not like bath time, most babies enjoy it. This can be a great time for you to bond with your baby. A newborn may be too young yet to splash around and play with toys, but you can certainly add an element of fun by making fun noises as you run water from a cup over your baby’s hands, feet, etc. Or just tell your baby about your day while bathing them, so you’re having a conversation while doing something relaxing.
It sounds simple, but just smiling at your newborn can do quite a bit. Their eyesight gets stronger every day, and your smiles at baby may very well help induce them right back at you! Also, just the act of smiling can help you feel happier, and that leads me to number 9….
9. Relax your mood
Babies are a lot like animals at first….it’s very easy for them to feel what you’re feeling. So keeping this in mind, it makes sense that when you’re upset, stressed, or frustrating, newborns seem to cry or fuss more. But if you smile, talk in a sing-song voice, and just relax overall, your baby can feel that, too.
10. Make diaper time special
I don’t think anyone actually enjoys changing dirty diapers, but since we’re resigned to having to do so, why not seize the moment and take the time to bond with your newborn? Personally, my daughter has always loved the diaper changing table, and I honestly believe it was a combination of good vantage point (she sits higher, which enables her to see more of Mom and Dad), and my singing and talking to her. You could also hand your baby some toys or play peek-a-boo with their diaper to make the time fun.
When I had my baby shower, I couldn’t believe the amount of blankets I received and wondered what I’d ever do with all them. But as it turns out, using a blanket is really an excellent way to bond with your newborn, so I keep a few in each room of the house. The act of swaddling your baby can improve their mood greatly and reduce a lot of stress and fussing. As your baby gets older, just the act of wrapping them in a blanket and holding them close for cuddle time can also help release those lovey-dovey feelings.
Quite possibly the most important way to bond with your newborn, massage is an easy skill to master. Keep it simple and just use some baby lotion and massage them during diaper changes, bath time, after a nap, etc. It’s something you should be doing anyway, as a newborn’s skin tends to dry out very easily and quickly in their first few months of life. Use gentle touch and massage in circles on legs, arms, back and tummy. You can also point out each part as you do so to your baby. And taking the time to marvel at this little person’s parts and knowing that you helped to create that will help you feel closer to baby, too.