From the outside, it may look like all your newborn does is sleep, eat, and poop, but this couldn't be farther from the truth. Inside your sweet baby's brain, all sorts of amazing things are happening. In fact, your baby's brain will double in size in the first year, and important neural connections are being made during this time that will affect your baby's entire life. This means that bonding, engaging, and playing with your newborn is incredibly important and will have a lasting impact on physical, mental, and emotional development. Here are 14 special ways to bond with your newborn:
1. Breastfeed if Possible
While breastfeeding is not the right choice for every new mama, it definitely has benefits when it comes to your baby's development as well as your mom-baby bond. Breast milk is full of rich nutrients which help prevent your baby from getting sick and help give brain development a boost. Breastfeeding also releases feel-good bonding hormones like oxytocin into your blood, helping you feel even closer and more loving toward your baby.
Comfortable and easy to nurse in hoodies and tee shirts may help you during your breastfeeding journey.
2. Talk to Your Baby
While a tiny newborn can't understand what you're saying just yet, they love being talked to, especially in a happy, expressive voice with lots of animated facial expressions. By talking to your baby as much as possible, you are setting the groundwork for their future language skills and ability to read emotions.
3. Be Super Responsive to Crying
The world outside of the comfortable, safe, warm womb can feel scary at first. One way to ease the transition and reassure your baby that she is loved and safe is to be super responsive to her cries. By responding right away with breastfeeding, soothing words, a diaper change, and cuddles, you are teaching your baby that the world is a safe place where their basic needs are met.
4. Get Plenty of Skin-on-Skin Time
Spending thirty minutes a day or so with direct skin-on-skin contact (laying your baby on your bare chest without clothing or blankets in between you) has a host of benefits for newborns and mamas alike. Skin-on-skin contact promotes bonding and secure attachment, helps baby sleep better, and is also a great way for new dads to get in on the newborn bonding fun!
5. Try Baby Wearing
A wrap or carrier designed for newborns is great for bonding, while also being practical. Your baby gets the comfort of being close to your heartbeat and feeling safely wrapped up and carried, while you get to keep your hands free for using your phone, doing chores, or simply carrying your latte while you go on a nice walk outdoors.
Learn to breastfeed while baby wearing for extra bonding and developing that close relationship with your baby.
6. Play Music for Your Baby
Playing music for your newborn can help soothe them, while also encouraging the musical part of their brain to form and grow. Classical, world music, and jazz are relaxing, but more up-tempo music can also bring joy to both baby and mama.
7. Try Newborn Massage
Ending each day with a gentle newborn massage will help your baby feel relaxed before bed, while also creating another opportunity for bonding. There are plenty of example videos online, but the main thing to remember is to use a light, gentle touch.
8. Consider a Co-Sleeper Bassinet
A co-sleeper bassinet is comforting for both newborns and their parents. It attaches to the side of your bed, meaning when your baby cries in the night you will be right there and able to easily breastfeed or otherwise soothe your baby.
9. Explore Objects Together
Being able to see and touch objects helps your baby understand the world while learning about textures, shapes, sizes, and colors. Even something as simple as showing your baby their blanket before you wrap them up in it, gently touching their little hands to it, and saying "soft blanket" can help your baby begin to make important connections.
10. Avoid Having the TV On All the Time
The world outside the womb can be a little overstimulating for newborns, and the distraction of TV noise doesn't help. Aim to leave the TV off unless you are intentionally sitting down to watch a show. This will leave a quiet background so your baby can concentrate on the way you talk and sing to her.
11. Gently Dance with Your Baby
Dancing around the room with your baby in your arms or rocking and jiggling them around (while being careful to support their neck and head) is fun for both you and your baby. Your baby will find dancing with mama both exciting and comforting, while mom gets an easy way to exercise, snag an endorphin rush, and burn calories.
12. Play Peek-A-Boo
Peek-a-boo is fun for your baby while also building motor skills and teaching the important lesson that things still exist even when you temporarily can't see them. There is a reason this simple game has delighted babies for generations.
13. Create a Calm Nursery Environment
With all of this learning, bonding, and development taking place, it's important to create the right kind of environment. A nursery that is relatively uncluttered, pleasant to look at, and decorated in soothing colors will make it easier to spend lots of time there bonding.
14. Don't Forget to Take Care of Yourself
Self care isn't selfish: in fact, babies can be sensitive to stress and anxiety in the people they love, so it's better for everyone if mama is happy and well-rested. Instead of fighting a fruitless battle in proving you can do everything yourself, ask for help from your partner and family. Make yourself a priority and take breaks when you can to shower, nap, or even go out and get your nails done. Then, when you return to your baby, you will be calm and eager to spend more time bonding and engaging.
As an extra tip, try exploring more outdoors with your baby and help him or her learn new senses, sights, sounds, and surroundings.
As you can see, this precious time in your baby's life is full of opportunities for bonding and love. For more new mama tips, be sure to subscribe to our Bun Maternity blog.