Newborns Bonding

Bonding with a newborn is important for new parents. New mothers and new fathers need to take steps to solidify prenatal bonding in the early stages of a baby’s life.

Although establishing a bond with your newborn usually happens naturally as you care for him or her, it is essential for the healthy development of your baby. Keep in mind also that bonding may not happen immediately. While some parents may have an easier time bonding with their newborns, if your early attempts are unsuccessful, it simply means you’ll have to keep trying until the bond is formed.

Benefits of Bonding

Bonding, or the intense attachment between a baby and his or her parents, can increase a child’s self-esteem and sense of security. Additionally, a parent’s responsiveness and attentiveness to the signals of a baby can positively affect the baby’s social and cognitive development.

Studies have shown that when bonding does not occur, a baby can experience sadness and stunted development.

In this section, we’ll cover all aspects of bonding with a newborn. We’ll discuss bonding with adopted children, dad bonding, methods of bonding and difficulties with bonding.

Methods of Prenatal Bonding

New parents can use a number of methods to encourage bonding with their babies. These include:

  • bathing the baby
  • carrying the baby around in a front carrier
  • feeding the baby (Bonding occurs with both breastfeeding and bottle-feeding.)
  • letting the baby touch your face, hands, etc.
  • making eye contact with the baby at close range
  • mirroring the movements, noises or expressions of the baby
  • reading to the baby
  • singing to the baby.

New fathers may also find that participating in the labor and delivery process will increase their “dad bonding.”

In many cases, everyday care, including changing, burping and feeding, will contribute to bonding without new parents even realizing it.

Obstacles to Bonding

In some cases, bonding may be more difficult. This can include cases where:

  • a baby has to spend time in intensive care before being released
  • a baby is adopted
  • a new mother experiences postpartum depression.

When a baby is kept in intensive care, new parents may be frightened by the cords and monitors hooked up to their new child. However, making an effort to bond with newborns is still very important, especially when they are experiencing health problems.

New parents of adopted babies may also need more time to establish a bond because they do not immediately feel that the child is “theirs.” However, bonding methods, including feeding and caring for the baby, are the same for adopted babies.

When a mother experiences postpartum depression, it’s important to seek help for the condition, both for the sake of the mother and the baby. In some cases, postpartum depression can actually be recognized by a lack of mother and child bonding.

If either new parent is having trouble with bonding (i.e. has not established a bond with the baby by the time of the baby’s first doctor visit), discuss this with your doctor. He can help to identify the problem and offer tips for bonding that new parents may not have considered.

Having bonding problems is nothing to be ashamed of, and parents should never conceal this fact from their doctor. Dealing with a lack of bonding can help you figure out new ways to create that missing bond sooner. The sooner bonding occurs, the better the baby’s development will be.

Resources

About.com (2008). Ways to Bond With Baby. Retrieved February 7, 2008, from the About.com Web site.

Kids’ Health (2008). Bonding With Your Baby. Retrieved February 7, 2008, from the Kids’ Health Web site.