When I first had my little girl, I was over the top excited! I couldn’t get over all of the snuggles and all of the people that came over bearing gifts and food. Our days were full of people cooking for us, loving up on our baby, and being a family.
Then reality set in.
The gifts and food stopped coming, my husband went back to work, and I was alone in our apartment staring at my perfect baby all day.
And as perfect as she was, and as much as I loved staring at her, I was getting a little bored. Before I left my job, I was in charge of thirteen two-year-olds. Thirteen. To say my days were filled with absolute chaos would be an understatement. We ran, we played, we read, we did everything! We filled our days with action, and so staying home with this sweet, beautiful, perfect baby was getting… boring.
I HATE saying that!
I loved this sweet babe more than life itself, but I found myself dreaming of what she would be like when she was older. I dreamed about the things she would like and the things we would do together. I knew that there just had to be something that I could do right then with my baby to get to know her better. So without further ado, here are four of my personal favorite ways to bond with a newborn:
My baby lived in her carrier for the first month of her life. After that, she became fixated with hanging out of it (which freaked me out!) so that she can look around, which meant I only broke it out when we went on walks 🙂 She adores it. It allows her to see what I see when we are on walks, and when she was first born, it allowed her to rest on me, hear my heartbeat, and experience the great outdoors in a place where she felt safe.
I cannot stress the importance of skin-to-skin. It regulates body temperature, improves heart and lung function, and reduces crying. Think about it: you are all your sweet baby has ever known. He or she has been growing and thriving in your belly and all of a sudden, they are born into a cold world. They want to cling to you because you are what they know! They know your smell, your heart beat, and your voice, and skin-to-skin is the closest way they can get those things.
My favorite ways to do skin-to-skin was during breastfeeding and bath time. As off-the-wall as it sounds, bath time is my favorite time. I would climb in with her, and we would spend time together. We were doing plenty of skin-to-skin, breastfeeding, talking, singing, and all in all enjoying bonding with each other. In my opinion, this is just about as close to the womb environment that we could get. She was warm, felt safe, heard my heart beat and my voice, and was close to me. We both loved it! Once she was older and more interactive, I held her as she kicked about in the water, and I let her stand up (with my support) to begin to strengthen her legs. It was a wonderful activity to do before bed time to tucker her out 😉
Since day one, I have read to my little one. I started with black and white books and read them to her and let her see the pictures while she did some tummy time. Not only does this help to create a love for books, but it is a great bonding activity for you and your newborn! He or she can hear your voice, listen to your native language, and engage in the pictures of the books themselves. Once my daughter had had enough of tummy time, we would snuggle up (calm down) and read books that incorporated movement. By having a variety of books available for her, we were able to do story time multiple times during the day and have multiple opportunities for bonding, language development, and interaction.
If you are able, breastfeeding, in my opinion, is the easiest way to bond with your newborn. They are getting skin-to-skin, they are interacting, they are hearing your voice and your heart beat, and they are getting their needs met. This is one of the hardest yet easiest things to do! I remember balling (I mean full on ugly crying) because breastfeeding was so hard at first. No one tells you of all the challenges that accompany it! I walked into motherhood thinking it was an absolute walk in the park, but let me tell you it isn’t. And no one prepares you for the challenges you face because everyone’s experience is so different! If you are lucky enough to be able to breastfeed, use this time to be 100 percent present with your newborn. If they are awake, do your best to stay off of your electronics, and be there with them.
There are so many ways to bond with a newborn. That sweet little bundle of joy simply enjoys being in your presence, no matter what you do. Let them hear your voice and feel your love. Sing songs, read books, tell stories, let them explore their world from the comfort of your arms. You are all they need. This stage is tough, but you’ve got this, Momma.
Do you have a favorite bonding time activity with your baby? Let me know in the comments below!