Bonding With Your Newborn

Once your baby is born, you want to take all the precautions to ensure that your newborn receives the care they need in order to form close family bonds. Bonding with your newborn baby is supposed to be a natural process, but many parents feel concerned when bonds do not begin to form immediately after the birth of their baby. This is a natural feeling, since bonding is an individual experience that varies from one relationship to the next.

Forming an attachment with your child is not only important to the psychological health of your baby, but it is also one of the deepest and most unique bonds you can form with another individual. Bonding relies on daily caregiving and communication with your baby, individually and as a family, and will come naturally once you spend quality time together. However, a lack of parent child attachment that persists for an extended period of time could indicate a problem, such as hormonal imbalance and postpartum depression.


Common Feelings and Concerns

New fathers sometimes feel concerned over newborn bonding since they feel removed from some of the physical bonds shared by the mother and baby such as breastfeeding and pregnancy. This is no cause for distress. Sharing the joys of and spending time together during all the stages of pregnancy and being present at the time of delivery are all active and important ways to participate in the formation of emotional bonds between the entire family.

If your newborn was separated from you immediately after birth due to health complications, or if you have adopted your baby several days, weeks, or months after birth, there is still no cause for concern. Deep bonds and attachments are formed between parents and newborns regardless of this separation. The important thing is not to worry and remain patient as you communicate with your baby and provide him or her with signs of love and affection, even if you haven't completely solidified a bond.


How to Bond with Your Newborn: Infant Bonding and Cues

Take pleasure in communicating and sharing experiences with your newborn on a daily basis. Bonds can only be formed with time. Newborn babies have different methods of communication, and are more sensitive to some signs than others. Understanding the ways newborns communicate will guide you when caring for your newborn:


  • Touch is an early form of communication in babies. Skin-to-skin contact is important, as your baby will become familiar not only with your touch but with your smell as well. Hold your newborn up against your skin, and cradle them in your lap as you stroke them with different patterns. In this manner, your baby will learn to distinguish between the patterns of touch used by you and your spouse.
  • Your baby communicates through eye-to-eye contact, so make sure to provide your newborn with this type of attention to signal your affection
  • New babies can follow objects with their eyes, so playing with moving objects is one way to spend quality time together
  • Babies love to hear human voices, and try to imitate them in their early efforts to communicate. Reading, talking, and singing to your baby will help familiarize them with your voice and form an attachment. Cooing and communicating with facial expressions will also be recognized by your baby, who will most likely make attempts to imitate these signs
  • Newborns will recognize your heartbeat, so hold your infant close to your chest. And respond to your baby's crying, which will help your baby feel secure and help to form a trusting relationship

Lastly, make sure you participate in all aspects of caregiving. Moms and dads should both be taking care to change diapers, rocking the baby to sleep, as well as burping and bathing your newborn. If the baby is not being breastfed, dad should also participate in bottle feedings.

Most importantly, actively share your experiences with your baby and acknowledge their presence as you go about your day. Use a baby carrier that allows you to carry your newborn against your chest. This will allow you to communicate with your newborn while gaining the benefits of physical closeness as you go about your daily activities. Remember, an emotional bond requires that both baby and parent integrate one another into their lives.


Newborn Bonding and Cause for Concern

If you are still experiencing feelings of detachment, resentment, or jealousy several weeks after the birth of your baby, you should speak to a health care provider to get proper help and support. Talk to a pediatrician or health professional when taking your baby to his or her first visit to the doctor, and get support by talking to friends, family, and new parents.

It is not uncommon for new moms to experience postpartum depression, and new dads may experience depression symptoms as well. It is important to the health of both you and your baby that early bonding concerns be resolved, so that you can begin to build lasting family ties.


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