Beyond Skin-to-Skin: Baby Bonding

A young woman holding her newborn baby in her armsLet’s face it, between the lack of sleep, the endless supply of wet and dirty diapers, the hungry (and loud!) little mouth that demands attention, it can sometimes be hard to enjoy the little moments. But those little moments, when you take the time to really be present in them, build up into the unbreakable bond between mother and child.

Beyond Skin-To-Skin

We’ve scoured the literature, interviewed moms and dads, and dug deep within ourselves to come up with this list of a few great ways to bond with your baby—no extra work or brainpower required.

  • The first rule of baby bonding is: Put down your phone. It’s hard for all of us, especially in the middle of the night when we just want to sleep but we can’t because baby is HUNGRY. But trust us, when you look back, you want to remember the color of your baby’s eyes, the shape of his face—not your highest level on Candy Crush. Everything else builds upon this cardinal rule.
  • Look at him while he’s feeding. Whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle feed, this is a prime opportunity to create a lasting bond. Baby will keep his eyes closed much of the time at first, but when he opens them wide, and looks at your face, it can take your breath away. He’s studying your face, too, because he instinctively knows that faces are important, especially yours. Smile at him and make silly faces, because one day soon he’ll smile back.
  • Snuggle with him, with as much skin-to-skin contact as possible. If it’s too cold to lounge around in your maternity bra, with baby in just a diaper, climb under the covers and lay him on your chest. Just make sure his face isn’t covered. This touch, this togetherness, releases feel-good hormones and brain chemicals that help you both fall in love.
  • Smell your baby. Really breathe in that new-baby smell. And, for baby’s benefit, try to avoid using scented soaps, shampoos, deodorants, lotions and other products on yourself. Both you and your baby release scents via pheromones that reinforce your bond.
  • Ask for, and accept, help. Parenting is a difficult and overwhelming task. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help around the house, or help with your baby so you can take a much-needed break. Remember: Your happiness and well-being directly influence your baby’s wellness.

And, if you don’t feel that sudden rush of love and obsession that you were expecting—don’t worry! It doesn’t mean you’re a bad mother, or that you don’t love your child. The mother-baby bond develops in different ways, and on different timetables, and that’s normal and okay. Just take care of baby’s basic needs for now, and if you become worried about your feelings in general or feelings toward your child, reach out to your OB/GYN or primary care doctor for help.