When your first baby is born, you’re probably a bit nervous about bonding. Breastfeeding is one of the more obvious bonding experiences that comes to mind, but if you’re having difficulty with it, you might feel like a failure and even wonder if you’ll ever bond with your child.
It’s hard to look at this brand-new little person and imagine that not long from now, they’re going to be covering you in kisses and calling you Mommy!
The good news is, you’ll soon find that their universe revolves around you and that they love you very much, but here’s some tips for some fun activities you can do with your baby/toddler to strengthen that bond even more.
We all love cuddles, right? Of course, so does your baby! In particular, the feeling of your warm skin against theirs is very soothing and pleasant for a baby. This unfamiliar new world that they are in can feel pretty scary sometimes, and a nice relaxing skin-to-skin cuddle with mommy is a great way to calm them down when they’re frightened or upset.
Skin-to-skin cuddling of your baby also has benefits you may not have been aware of. According to the International Breastfeeding Centre, skin-to-skin contact helps to stabilize the baby’s body temperature, heart and breathing rates, and immediate skin-to-skin contact after birth will colonize the baby with the same bacteria as the mother, which is believed to prevent allergies.
Reading To Your Baby
You can start reading to a baby straightaway! It might feel a little bit silly to be reading to a newborn, but your baby has been listening to your voice while in the womb for a while now and already finds it soothing. It’s easier to get into the reading habit now than when they’re a 4-year old racing around the house, so start reading now for great rewards later.
The experience of reading has so much to teach babies: the tactile sensation of the pages, the sounds of the words, the visuals of the pictures, etc.
Reading to your child benefits their language development, as they get used to the sounds and words. It also helps the baby to learn about the things they will see in their daily life. Make sure you point to the pictures while you’re reading the story, i.e. if there’s a train in the story, point to the train as you say the word “train”.
You’d be surprised before they even start to speak how many vocabulary words they will have committed to memory this way. But beyond development, this is also a shared experience, and before long they’re going to be following you around the house with board books asking you to read to them!
Singing To Your Baby
This is a wonderful feeling for mommy and baby alike. You probably fondly remember many songs that your own parents sang to you, which maybe their parents sang to them! It’s a lovely way of sharing the music that has made up your own childhood, your family’s traditions, and the stories of your culture.
Hearing the same songs repeatedly is also good for your child’s musical development and their vocabulary, and it won’t be long until they’re recognizing the songs and even singing them back to you!
Talking To Your Baby
During your day-to-day activities, narrate what you’re doing for your child ( i.e. “I’m just putting you in the car-seat now, and we’re driving to the park” ). Talk directly to them as much as you can; it might feel strange to be having such a long monologue, but baby will really benefit both in terms of your connection to each other and their language development!
One fun way to practice talking to your baby is to tell them the plots of your favorite children’s movies, doing different voices for different characters and so on. Baby will find this very amusing!
Watching your child’s personality unfold as they grow and change so rapidly is an incredible experience, and knowing how much you’ve played a part in the shaping of that personality is magical. Seeing them choose favorite books and sing back lullabies to you is part of a bonding experience that’s just as precious for you as it is for them. Enjoy these precious years while they last!