Bonding With Baby
There are few things more precious than a brand new baby. The smell…the snuggles… it can be heavenly. But being a new mom (or dad) is also overwhelming, stressful and tiring. A study done by the National Childbirth Trust in the UK in June 2016 showed that approximately a third of mothers experienced difficulty bonding with their baby, on top of that 12% of women said that they would be embarrassed to talk to a health professional about this difficulty.
I had my first baby almost exactly a year ago. I eagerly anticipated meeting our sweet little boy. I nested. I day dreamed. I thought that the second I saw him, I would be filled with inexpressible love and have an immediate and deeply personal connection with him. I imagine that some women DO have that experience. But the truth is, I didn’t. He came out, they handed him to me, and of course I loved him, but he was also just a baby. Was I a horrible mother? No… I was just a new mom. The more time I spent with him, the more I cuddled him, and fed him, and held him, the stronger our connection grew. I got to know him better. We bonded.
That’s the beautiful thing about love in general. It grows, like a plant, as we feed it and nourish it. We bond when we put in the effort. It can be natural, and it can also be helped.
In an article entitled How to bond with your child through reading, Professor Peter Fonagy said: “We talk a lot about bonding with children, but often in rather abstract ways. Rather than another sermon to new parents about their responsibility in respect to their young children in the first years of life, it might be more useful to pin down the kinds of practical things that parents can do that can help them and their child work together towards building strong bonds.” Yes please. No sermonizing here, just our three favorite and easy ways to bond with our babies.
You probably guessed we’d say this one… and guess what. You were right! I’ve already written extensively about my experience reading to baby F as a newborn and the title of the article pretty much sums it up–Reading To a Newborn: Harder Than I Thought But Totally Worth It). He’s 11 months old now, equal parts baby and toddler somehow, and reading is still a part of our daily routine that we cherish. Bonding for the win. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Luckily, there’s some research to back us up!
In a study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, they found that “Reading to babies in the NICU can help parents develop the same feelings of intimacy that parents of healthy newborns cultivate in the days and weeks after a baby’s birth.” How amazing is that, that in an environment when cuddling and physical contact is very restricted, parents can still cultivate a strong, intimate bond with their baby, just by reading to them? Truly AMAZING. Reading with your baby is just as effective for bonding with healthy babies as well. Dr. Mary Ann Abrams, the medical director for Reach Out and Read said: “Reading a book to your newborn is a one-on-one activity that you can really turn into a special time with your baby. It exposes the baby to the sound of your voice, which is soothing for him. “
In an article published in the Washington Post in February this year, Amy Joyce writes: “One of the most important things parents can do, beyond keeping kids healthy and safe, is to read with them. That means starting when they are newborns and not even able to talk, and continuing well beyond the years that they can read by themselves. Study after study shows that early reading with children helps them learn to speak, interact, bond with parents and read early themselves, and reading with kids who already know how to read helps them feel close to caretakers, understand the world around them and be empathetic citizens of the world.”
Reading might not happen naturally as you go about your busy day, but it’s an easy, practical, enjoyable and meaningful way to bond with your baby that will pay dividends not only now, but for their future. Not sure which books to buy (we hear you, there are literally hundreds of thousands of children’s books out there). Let us help by sending you three board books selected with the help of our panel of families attending Stanford University each month.
Baby-wearing definitely works better for some families than others, but for my sisters-in-law and me…it’s worked incredibly well and I love it! After having baby F, I was still working on Bookroo (from home) and being able to wear him while I worked at a standing desk was an amazing opportunity for me to feel close to him and have less mom-guilt about working. (Side note: Mom guilt is totally overrated. I try every day to banish it from my life, but it’s still a work in progrees). For a few months, he would only nap while we wore him and so my husband and I would take turns wearing him (and snuggling him) for naps until he was ready to make the transition to his little rock-and-play and finally a crib. Woot woot! To this day, however, he still finds comfort in the wrap, so we pull it out whever we’re out and about and he needs a nap. #momwin But where’s the research you ask?
As succinctly stated by Baby Wearing International (a non-profit supporting women : “babywearing promotes bonding between children and caregivers.” Furthermore, “Every time a baby is able to let us know that she is hungry, bored, or wet without having to cry, her trust in us is increased, her learning is enhanced, and our own confidence is reinforced.” Other benefits–from research done all the way back in the 1980s and 90s… oh wait, that wasn’t so long ago ;)–include less crying and less colic. Plus… more snuggles!
This one is the EASIEST of the three, and as a major bonus can be combined with either reading or baby-wearing. We’ve never tried all three at once… if you try it let us know how that works out. Lots of babies (although not all) LOVE to be swaddled while they’re cuddled, and plus then your baby will “look like a REAL baby!” (according to our four-year-old niece).
So, what’s a mom (or dad) to do? Take a deep breath, breathe, confidence and bond with baby while living in the moment. Regardless of your family situation or how much time you have with your baby, bonding is something that can both happen naturally, or be helped along. To make it even easier for you, we’re teaming up with Milk Snob (one of our very favorite shops for baby wraps, nursing covers, swaddles and sleep sacks!) to give one lucky mom a little extra help with her reading, snuggling and cuddling. Head on over to our Instagram account (@bookroo_love) to enter to win a 3-Month Subscription to Bookroo ($64.99 value) and an adorable matching Hello Baby Set and Pouch ($72) from MilkSnob. Oh soooo cute! Giveaway ends 8/18 at 12pm MT.