Respond to baby — don’t fuss, it’s biology

Hugs and kisses, reading baby’s cues…even your breastmilk can change in response to baby!


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 touching

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.