There’s a moment in each parent’s life, usually as they hold their baby just after birth, or on the slow drive home from the hospital or during that first long, long night when the gravity of creating another human suddenly hits them.
This being, so small and fragile, will depend on them for every little thing. They’ll teach them to eat and sleep and walk and talk. They’ll shape how they interact with other people and how they treat themselves. Their job is to take this mushy, gushy ball of crying sweetness and turn it into a fully functioning, ideally, caring, member of society.
In that moment, the big moment, when you realize just how much parenthood entails, you may not feel confident in your abilities. Especially because that moment often overlaps with the moment you realize that you don’t actually know how to change a diaper or burp a baby or swaddle anything. Luckily, you have time. You’ll have years to figure out how to parent and will probably do it in fits and starts as your child grows and moves through different phases and stages.
For now, in the first weeks and months of your new baby’s life, your only job is to bond with them. Bonding with your baby can seem a daunting task, after all, how do you get to know someone who can’t speak or understand your words, someone who can’t really even see you? Science has the answers. Check out the tips below to help you connect and bond with your brand new baby.
1 | Meet their needs
By simply meeting the basic needs of your baby you’ll be teaching them to trust you and showing them that you’ll always take care of them. In their early days, baby’s cry to have their needs met and, when those needs are met, they begin to understand that you’re their caretaker and they can count on you. So, next time you’re changing a diaper or rocking a fussy baby, know that you’re already developing your relationship.
2 | Indulge in Skin-to-Skin
Skin-to-skin contact is often immensely comforting for newborn babies. It can calm a crying baby, encourage a positive breastfeeding relationship and help newborns regulate their temperature and blood sugar. While skin-to-skin is often discussed a mother-child bonding babies reap benefits when they cuddle up with dads or other caretakers as well. To engage in skin-to-skin simply remove your and baby’s shirt and cuddle up with your chests and bellies touching. Skin-to-skin often comes most naturally to parents during feeding time or when baby seems fussy or needs a little extra love.
3 | Talk to them
In the early days of baby’s life, it can feel a little odd to talk to them. Just because they’re not responding, though, doesn’t mean that they don’t appreciate your words. Babies recognize their parent’s voices from birth and are quick to turn their attention to voices they recognize. Keep up the chatting by narrating what you’re doing so your little one gets the benefit of your many words.
4 | Look them in the eyes
Early on, you may not see much of baby’s eyes as newborns often sleep most of the day. When they are awake and alert, take the opportunity to look them in the eye and tell them just how much you love them. Even newborns prefer to look at faces over objects and your babe will surely appreciate the opportunity to get a good look at the person they’ve been hearing so much from over the past nine months.
5 | Understand that it takes time
Not feeling the love quite yet? That’s okay! Media and pop culture often make parenthood and instant love seem synonymous but, in reality, the pathway to deep love often takes time. While it’s not uncommon to feel a burst of love at birth, many parents report that their love for their little ones comes on more slowly as they care for them and get to know them.
In addition to the normal time it takes to feel the love, common issues like postpartum depression can make it difficult to form the instant bond many moms are hoping for. Each day that you care for your little one, you’re doing the hard work of getting to know them and of building the foundation for a life-long love. Do your best to enjoy every step of the journey!