When your gaze meets your child’s for the first time, you instantly feel a connection. Still, you can explore many additional ways to bond in those first few months. Through skin-to-skin contact, gentle caresses and interaction face to face, you soon find that the link between you and your baby becomes even stronger than the first time your eyes met.
When your baby is alert, stay in tune with her with nonverbal communication, recommends Kim Chronister, a Los Angeles-based health psychologist. Mirror your baby’s facial and hand gestures as well as body movements to connect with her when she is awake, she says. If she smiles, smile back. If she raises her arm, raise yours. “This can enhance bonding with baby in a remarkable and powerful way,” Chronister observes.
Connect with your little one through skin-to-skin contact throughout the day. Beyond snuggles with your baby, make feeding time a time to bond, recommends La Shawn M. Paul, a New York-based clinical social worker and therapist. Put your baby next to your body when feeding by breast or by bottle, she recommends, to provide your baby with a sense of security.
Sing and Soothe
Your baby will ultimately learn to soothe himself, but during the first six months, an infant needs the comfort of mom and dad. Allow your child to hear your voice often through singing or gentle singsong phrases, Paul advises. Read a book aloud, talk to your baby, and sing and play music to help with voice recognition while also strengthening the parent-child bond.
With a new baby, it’s common to establish daily rituals that include diaper changes, feedings and baths. Make the most of these rituals by bonding with your baby as she splashes around in the tub, recommends Alicia Clark, a Washington, D.C.-based clinical psychologist. Bath time is an ideal time to connect with your child because you are offering comfort and meeting her needs, she says. Gestures of care and soothing help develop trust between parents and baby, Clark notes.