A word that will come up rather often after the birth of your baby is bonding. While you may think that the relationship between a parent and child is established from the very onset, this connection may not always be instantaneous. Twenty percent of new parents report not feeling any kind of bond until much after the euphoria of delivery has died down. If you’re reading this after the birth of your baby and feel like you haven’t bonded yet, don’t worry. Time will fix everything!
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Bonding with newborns is a special experience. Touch them, sing to them, make eye contact with them, speak to them, show them how much you’ve been waiting for their arrival! Your baby will watch you and try to imitate you. Breastfeeding is the most natural way to bond with your baby and Daddy will have to match up by putting his gentlest cuddle-monster skills to work.
In India, once a baby is born, a maalish wali is usually employed to massage the baby. Massaging a newborn is a wonderful way to bond. It also helps in relieving stress in premature infants and eases postpartum depression in new mothers. The question is: do you want your baby to bond with the maalish wali?
We suggest, flipping the script on this ancient practice. Hire a maalish wali to massage you and have her teach you how to massage your baby instead. Massaging doesn’t have to be a bone-numbing experience for your child. In fact, it should be gentle, soothing and enjoyable. And don’t ever underestimate how good a job you will do. In time, you’ll see that the time you spend massaging, laughing and playing with your newborn will be some of the most priceless moments you’ll ever experience. Enjoy caring for your newborn and savour the coos and cuddles at the end of a relaxing massage session.
Speaking to your newborn is another wonderful way to bond. A lot of new parents tend to speak to their little children in baby talk, an amusing form of gibberish spoken through pursed lips and babylike sounds. The truth is, baby talk could be detrimental to your baby, according to new research. Babies are avid sponges of new information, and they carry no filters until the age of 5. They simply absorb what they hear. The faster you speak to them clearly and coherently, the faster they learn to speak that way too!
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Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is an internationally celebrated practice, that is known to work wonders for bonding. KMC practitioners suggest putting a baby on her mother’s chest, soon after delivery. They also insist that a baby ought not to be cleaned thoroughly after birth. The thin film that covers a baby upon birth called the vernix actually helps regulate body temperature and provides immunity to a baby’s vulnerable little body. Holding your baby to your chest allows your body heat to envelope your baby in a comforting warmth, providing an environment akin to the hollow of a warm womb. Your baby will also learn to recognise your scent and start to naturally gravitate towards the breast for milk. KMC promotes the release of the pleasure hormone oxytocin in your body, which fuels milk production and overall postpartum healing.
Your partner can also practise KMC, by simply placing your baby on his bare chest. Watch how a few minutes of KMC soothes and calms your little one, especially if she has been displaying uneasiness or angst. KMC should be practised as long as possible. It is a natural, no-cost, no-frills technique, which ensures the highest quality of parent-baby bonding!
There is nothing more valuable you can offer your child than a picture of happiness. Your baby will learn to smile and laugh by watching you, so make sure you see the lighter side of life when the parenting rollercoaster makes you dizzy. Grin widely, laugh loudly and love without restraint, and watch how your little one mirrors all that back to you as she grows!