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7 Simple Ways to Bond With Your Baby

Photograph by Twenty20

Bonding with your baby doesn't always come easily and naturally, despite what we're told. It can be a challenge, especially if you're a first-time mom or have had a difficult birth. With my older son, I was a first-time mom with a deployed spouse and recovering from a C-section. With my second son, I was also an exhausted mom of a 21-month-old toddler.

Bonding was something I had to work at, but it was worth it. Here are a few things I did to bond with my babies in the first year of their lives.

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1. Skin-to-skin contact

Skin-to-skin contact is most often emphasized immediately after birth and during breastfeeding, but you can use skin-to-skin contact to bond with your baby even if you bottle-feed (I did). Having my baby nuzzle into my bare shoulder while he drifted off to sleep was a special time for both of us. And doctors are now recognizing the benefits of skin-to-skin contact for mothers, as well.

The best moments with my babies were the times when I simply let everything else go.

2. Sing a song

Unfortunately for my children, I'm not much of a singer. But having a song that I sang to them at bedtime, naptime or any time they needed soothing was comforting for both of us and reinforced our bond. Our song is "You Are My Sunshine" and my 6-year-old not only still asks me to sing it, but he also sings it to me and his 4-year-old brother at bedtime.

3. Find your place

Find a special place, whether it's in your house or yard or somewhere you go regularly, that belongs to just Baby and you. For me, it was the couch in front of my bedroom window, where I would take my babies to cuddle in the early morning light. It was "our" time and "our" place, where we could have quiet time for just Mama and Baby. Instead of dreading those pre-dawn wake-ups, I started looking forward to those moments of bonding time.

4. Spend time alone together

Having a spouse and family to help out with a new baby is a blessing to be sure, but sometimes it can interfere with your bonding experience. If you find yourself being nudged aside so some well-meaning loved one can feed, bathe or cuddle Baby, speak up. Time alone with your baby is important for both of you, and it's OK to tell everyone (nicely) to leave the two of you alone for awhile.

5. Talk like you're friends

Forget the baby talk—talk to your baby like you'd talk to a friend. Talk about your day, your childhood, your hopes and dreams. As a new mom, I constantly had to remind myself to talk to my baby. But I found that just talking—and having him respond with coos and baby babble—helped me feel like he was a real person, with his own thoughts and interests. And hearing my voice would have him craning his head to watch me, which made me feel special.

6. Write about it

When my first son was born, I started writing letters to him each month. At first, they were just a way of journaling about our life together, but as I mentally relived the memories from the previous month so I could write about them, I found myself also reliving the moments. Those memories, which of course he doesn't remember, were ways to bond with my baby even after the days and events had happened. Looking back on the tough days gave me a fresh perspective, and remembering the special days made me feel that much closer to him.

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7. Be present

The best moments with my babies, the moments when I felt the closest I'd ever been to them, were the times when I simply let everything else go. Forget about the housework and laundry that needs to be done, ignore the phone, the TV and other distractions, give in to the tiredness that seems to be a perpetual presence in motherhood, and just … be with your baby. Inhale his scent, stare into his big eyes, feel the velvet-soft texture of his warm skin, listen to his coos and cries and simply feel his presence in every part of you. That feeling of complete attachment and immersion is what it means to bond with your baby. Enjoy it.

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