During the early years of childhood development, parental bond is key in establishing a safe and secure environment for babies.
While most parents have a desire to bond and connect with their young ones, many struggle with exactly how to go about building a healthy relationship.
This is particularly true when it comes to first time fathers and mothers.
So here’s some tips we thought would help overcome the confusion or “awkwardness”.
In truth, there isn’t a vast amount of conclusive evidence here but many mothers report feeling a natural inclination to talk to their “bump” as it develops.
It is known that hearing starts to develop as early as 18 weeks into a pregnancy and a foetus can respond to sounds from outside of the body.
So, although science offers little if any hard guidance, it seems intuitively sensible to assume your baby-to-be may be able to hear and perhaps recognise your voices. From that, it follows that talking or singing to your baby in the womb may be soothing.
Technically, a ‘Neonate’ is a baby in the first 27 days of life but for convenience, here we’ll extend that to those under 3 months.
During these weeks, the baby should recognise (or perhaps ‘remember’) their mother’s smell, feel and sounds. Regular cuddling can help give a sense of continuity and security. There is also evidence suggesting that this process is beneficial for mothers too, both in psychological terms and with their future bonding with the baby.
Generally speaking, the baby should be cuddled and held as much as possible. If it cries, it should be attended to quickly and remember to speak soothingly to it constantly.
Many, perhaps most, child care experts contend that breast-feeding is a huge help in mother-baby bonding.
Fathers aren’t excluded either! Pick up the baby, cuddle it and hold it close to your skin where possible. It will start to recognise the sounds, feel and smell of you too and give a break for your partner.
This is a fantastic period during which you should see your baby starting to try and communicate with you.
Do the following:
- however busy you are, find the time regularly to sit with your baby on your lap looking at your face. Make plenty of eye contact and smile a lot! If they make sounds, try to respond in kind;
- talk to your baby constantly, even if you’re busy doing other things;
- respond to your baby’s sounds – it shows them they can influence the world;
- always respond to your baby crying by cuddles;
- play soothing, fairly simple and happy music. Sing along if you can!
This is the time when your baby will start to explore the world much more, possibly crawling or even walking. Their cognition will be much more evident too, so:
- keep talking to them face-to-face and over a few minutes;
- ask them questions when they show a toy to you. Give them the names of things they’re picking up or pointing to;
- join in their games, like playing with the stuffed animals. Smile and laugh to show they’re interesting you;
- pick them up regularly and keep the hugs going;
- make mealtimes fun! Share a laugh and ‘funny face pulling’. Try to eat a little with them as well;
- try to spend at least some time carrying them on your body while you’re out and about. Pushchairs and prams are fine and essential but they do break body contact.
While putting your baby in day care may sound contrary to improving your bonding with your baby, there is another side to this coin.
You see, handling the pressures of life along with looking after your precious bundle of joy can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. And that means, even if you are with your baby, you aren’t really connecting with him or her, because of all the stress you are experiencing.
In fact, you may even be stressing your baby by ignoring or reacting negatively to their cries or calls.
We’ve often heard of how those few hours come as a great relief to parents, particularly working professionals. And when they come to take their babies home, they have a joy that can be described only when seen in person.
So putting your baby in a quality day care like Read2Grow, would actually give you the space you need to recharge your batteries and get back the emotional energy you need to nurture your baby.
PLUS when the babies are at the centre, you can be at peace knowing your baby is not just safe, secure and looked after but at the same time growing in their cognitive and social skills.