Bonding is one of those things that comes naturally to some mothers, and not so much for others. If you’re struggling, don’t panic, there are lots of things you can do to help that bond between you and your newborn. Have a read and discover how to bond with your baby and connect.
Struggling to bond?
Bonding with your baby is such an important step when you become a mother, but yet it’s something that many women struggle with for a variety of reasons. A traumatic birth, trouble breastfeeding and postnatal depression are all things that can have an impact on how we bond with our little ones in the first few days, weeks and even months.
That ‘rush of love’ straight after birth that is often talked about doesn’t always happen and if it doesn’t it can be disheartening. It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad mother, it just means that you need a little bit more time. For me, it definitely took a good few months before I felt like I knew what I was doing and felt like I knew my baby.
Take your time
I was quite ill after Cupar was born, so it meant I couldn’t go out and had to spend a lot of time in the house. We also seemed to have constant visitors who wanted their own bonding time with him, which left me feeling a little bit pushed out. After a couple of months though, and when I was back on my feet, I realised I needed to take control and really work on strengthening our bond.
So what can we do to help our bonding experience along and feel more in tune with our tiny new babies? Here are a few ways which may help:
Whether it’s by breast or bottle, feeding is one of the first things we’ll do with our babies when they’re born, and it’s one of the best ways we can establish a bond with them. There are a few little differences between breast and bottle, but the basic principles are the same, and something we can all use to help us. Feeding on demand, especially with a newborn can be quite stressful, so it’s important to create a calm, relaxed atmosphere where you and your baby can concentrate on each other:
- Try to choose a room or specific area in your home that is reserved for feeding. Somewhere where you can both go to relax, get comfy and enjoy some one on one time together.
- Create a quiet space. Turn the TV off, get away from other people, and if you have any other little ones around, let them know that it’s quiet time.
- Focus on your baby. Look at them, maintain eye contact, stroke their cheek, sing a nursery rhyme and make it all about the two of you.
- Relax. Just relax and enjoy the moment, because before you know it, these little babies will be toddlers that are running around and causing havoc and they won’t need our milk anymore!
Babywearing is a great one for bonding as it allows you to get on with your day, but still be close to your baby. You can babywear inside the house, as well as outside, which means that as your baby is so close to you, you can
Say no to visitors
In the first few weeks after having a baby, expect to have a lot of visitors and expect those visitors to possibly outstay their welcome. People love babies, which is great, but when it becomes too much and you feel like your baby is always being passed around from person to person and you rarely get to hold them, then it’s time to say no. To be able to bond with your little one, you need time and space to be able to learn and grow as a mother.
- Be honest. If you need some alone time to bond with your baby, then let people know. They may not realise how you feel and they may not realise that you’re struggling.
- Set a schedule for visitors and make sure they stick to it. You could choose certain days a week that people can come over, or certain times during the day. Remind people that you’re not banning them from the house, you just need some time and space to get used to your new role as a mother.
Play with your baby
Playing and interacting with your baby can help strengthen the bond for both of you. It allows you to focus on each other and to learn what you’re both doing. Playing can be done in a variety of ways, and it’s never too early to get started and create a little routine.
- Read a book and play around with different voices and styles of reading aloud. Reading will allow your baby to get used to the sound of your voice, and it’s a great way to get their full attention, even if it’s just for a little while. There’s nothing better than seeing your baby looking up at you with wide eyes, trying to work out what you’re saying!
- Explore sensory play. Your baby will enjoy all of the new colours and textures, and you’ll have fun experiencing life through a babies eyes again. Different materials, sounds and lights all work really well.
- Have a little sing. Even if you don’t have the best voice and usually only sing in the shower, your baby will still love to hear it. Nursery rhymes with actions are good and you may even have some fun with it yourself.
Try baby massage
Baby massage is excellent for bonding. It promotes trust and opens up the senses for both of you. There are a variety of different techniques that you can use that will help your baby in different ways. Touch is so important, as it will help your baby to feel safe and will help you to feel more connected to them.
There are a lot of baby groups around that offer massage sessions, so it may be worth doing a bit of research to see if you can find anything in your local area. If you prefer a one on one setting, you can check out this great resource from baby centre. It has a lot of helpful information as well as pictures, so that you can see what you should be doing.
Get out and about with your baby
I always found getting out of the house and going somewhere just the two of us was good for bonding. Even if you just walk to the end of your road and back, you’re still getting out of the house and spending important one on one time together. It can be scary at first, but once you get out there, you start to learn more about each other and you start to trust your instincts more, which ultimately leads to better bonding.
There are a few different things you can do when you’re out and about:
- Find a nice park or woodland to walk around. You can have fun pointing out the different trees, birds etc and telling your baby what they are.
- Treat yourself to lunch or coffee in a cafe and enjoy some people watching with your little one.
- Join some baby groups in your area. There are a lot of groups for newborn to crawling babies, and you will get to participate in play, massage and sensory activites.
- Check out your local library. A lot of libraries have bounce and rhyme sessions which are a lovely way to connect with your baby. You can also find a quiet corner and read some new books with them. My local library has a lot of touchy feely books which are great for young babies.
If you’re worried about going out and being away from the comfort of your own home, try to pick places that are close to feeding/changing rooms. This way, you know that you have somewhere to go if the baby needs a nappy or outfit change. Also, baby friendly cafes are good as they’re usually full of other Mums who may be feeling exactly the same as you do.
The main thing with bonding is to relax and enjoy it. Looking after a baby is hard and definitely has it’s stressful moments, but those times when you really connect with each other are priceless. Set aside some time each day to have a little bonding session and really concentrate on just the two of you
If you’re still struggling and think you may have postnatal depression, please go and see your GP. They have a wealth of resources to help you, and you and your little one will benefit from the help.