Practice skin to skin.
One of the best ways to bond with your baby is to practice skin to skin contact. Babies of all ages can benefit from skin to skin, or as it is sometimes called, kangaroo care. Once you have a routine down, try to get some skin time each day. As a bonus, when your baby or toddler isn’t feeling well, practicing skin to skin can help them regulate their temperature and breathing.
Try a baby massage.
Baby massage can be as simple as a nightly lotion rub down, or you can go all out and take a class on how to massage baby in special ways. No matter how you do it, touch promotes bonding. Just grab some baby lotion and give that little one a nightly massage. You will both feel better for it!
Savor the mundane.
If you are having trouble with getting through the day to day tasks, try reframing the mundane. Instead of sighing over yet another diaper change or feeding session, see it as a celebration of the life you helped to foster. Your baby is thriving and needs your help to do so. By reframing your thinking, you and your infant can develop a much stronger bond.
Dancing is an ancient art of healing, romance, and celebration. Try dancing with your baby and see how the music and movement affect their mood and your own. You will likely feel a stronger bond with your baby after dancing with her every day. Once the baby is bigger, it becomes a workout for you as well!
Share your baby stories with others. Find a mom community and start talking! You can share the trial and error process of raising your children or simply talk about what you did that day. Including others on your journey helps you see your own baby from a different perspective, and can help you bond with them over time.
Maintain eye contact.
It can be so tempting to pull out your phone or tablet while nursing or bottle feeding your baby. While media does have a time and a place (when it’s 3 AM and you are struggling to stay awake through the 7th feeding of the night!) try putting the phone down and keeping eye contact with your baby as much as possible. This eye contact will actually release chemicals that help produce a stronger bond with your child.
Talk out loud.
Tell your baby about your life. Or read them a story. You can even just talk to them about the day’s news. No matter what you are sharing, taking the time to talk to your baby as much as possible will help you bond with them. Just hearing your voice helps baby create a deeper bond with you, and eventually, you will feel that as well.
Write one memory a day.
It doesn’t need to be a long story or even more than a quick picture, but try to jot down one memory every day. Maybe it is something silly, like how your baby accidentally made a rude hand gesture during nap time. Or a sweet memory, such as a first smile or coo. Just keep a small notepad around and write down whatever comes to mind, even if it doesn’t seem particularly memorable at the time. If you are having a moment where you don’t feel like yourself, read through these memories and remember how strong your bond with your child really is.
Wrap them up.
From newborns to toddlers, children love being wrapped up and worn on your body. The benefits are for you as well. You will feel closer to your baby, increasing the bond that you have. At the same time, your hands will be free to get some work done. By doing housework while babywearing, you are incorporating your baby into your own daily routine, which can help increase your connection.
Stop impatiently waiting for the next stage.
One of the best pieces of parenting advice ever given is to stop looking forward to the next stage. Yes, a screaming newborn who refuses to eat can be challenging. You might not feel close to them, and you might worry that you will never bond with them. Instead of wishing away these hard times, try to stay present. Savor the moments of smallness, and keep in mind that it doesn’t last forever. Parents don’t just bond with their babies over the good times… it is through life’s ups and downs we all form strong connections.
Remember, if you don’t bond with your baby right away, what you are feeling isn’t uncommon. Bonding and connections take time, and as long as you are willing to give it a good go, that connection will come. And when it does, you will never look back!