Every mother remembers the first time she held her baby — whether it’s her firstborn or her fifth child. While experiences differ from child to child, some things remain unchanged, like the need to establish your connection with your little one.
Bonding — the special attachment that forms between a mother and father and their new baby — is a vital human instinct that gives babies a sense of security and self-esteem. This feeling of attachment is what sends parents rushing into their infant’s room in the middle of the night at the slightest sound, and also what makes parents instinctively want to care for their child.
Bonding happens when you touch your newborn, feed them, as well as care for their needs, like diapering and bathing them. A strong parent-child bond is a solid foundation for baby’s eventual development.
Skin-to-skin contact is the first way most mothers bond with their babies. SP expert Dr Christopher Chong, a urogynaecologist at Gleneagles Hospital, notes that contact not only comforts your baby once born, it also colonises their body with your bacteria. Together with breastfeeding, the introduction of such bacteria actually protects your baby from allergies and diseases. Skin contact also “helps your baby grow, especially if premature”, Dr Chong adds.
Of course, there’ll be times when you won’t be able to hold bubba, let alone enjoy skin-to-skin contact, so it’s also important to continue developing your bond with them by having plenty of eye contact, as well as talking to and smiling at them.
“Being a responsive parent allows you to accept a child’s needs and wants at an emotional level.”
Watching & listening
Trying to understand a newborn isn’t easy, so you won’t always know what they want; don’t worry, you'll eventually be able to read their signals. Daniel Koh, a psychologist from Insights Mind Centre notes, “They will signal their every want so, as a parent, all you need to do is read and act upon them, instead of assuming.”
You'll soon be able to distinguish your little one’s different cries, for instance, when they’re hungry and when they’re sleepy. For instance, usually, when baby’s:
· crying while sucking on their hand, fists or fingers — hungry.
· turning their head to one side with mouth open — again, hungry.
· staring at you with glazed eyes, looks pale, or is not responding to the activities around them — probably tired or sleepy.
The bottom line is, your baby has and will develop their own habits, so try and pick up these cues early.
Be a role model
The size of your little one’s brain size not only triples but makes about trillions of connections during the first three years of life. So, it’s important to be a sensitive and perceptive parent, since your actions now play a major role in moulding their future.
Koh notes, “Being a responsive parent allows you to accept your child’s needs and wants at an emotional level. This helps them develop emotional and psychological qualities like empathy, safety and self-esteem.”
Showering them with attention will give them the confidence they need in developing future relationships. “Show them what it means to be confident, respectful, and resilient and what it means to believe in yourself,” Koh advises. At the same time, be alert to reading their body language, so that you’ll know if you’ve engaged their attention and that they’ve received your message.
You’re probably familiar with the long list of breastfeeding benefits, including bonding with baby and safeguarding her from diseases like stomach viruses and meningitis. But did you know that your breastmilk is tailored specifically to your baby’s needs? Your body responds to the viruses you get exposed to and uses this as a basis to protect bubba. It also helps mothers fight postnatal depression.
Nature even works with you when you breastfeed your tot. It’s believed that nursing at night is a convenient time for a mum as “more prolactin (proteins that enable to produce milk) is produced at night than during the day”, says Dr Chong. He adds, “Breastmilk at night contains more melatonin, the hormone believed to help babies sleep.”
Breastfeeding is one of the many bonding activities you can ace with bubba. That’s because when you hold them close to you while you feed them, they feels secure as they can hear the beating of your heart. Also, the distance from your breast to your face is within a newborn’s range of vision, so they can focus on you and recognise you.
Other ways to deepen your connection.
• Play gyms
• Music classes
• Baby yoga
• Baby massage
• Family photoshoot
• Vlog diaries