How to Encourage Your Family Members to Bond with The Newest Member
Like breastfeeding, bonding seems like something that should happen naturally, almost immediately, for the whole family. Between giving birth, breastfeeding, and being the primary caregiver, this can happen naturally for many mothers, though this isn’t always the case. For other family members, sometimes bonding can take a while and requires a little work.
This post will cover the importance of bonding with your newborn and ways to help provide encouragement for your partner or your other children. There are some wonderful ways to help your family bond with the newest member.
The Importance Of Bonding
Bonding with your baby gives them the building blocks to develop intimate relationships throughout life, building trust with others, and having a sense of security. As a parent, bonding with your baby awakens your sense of responsibility and helps parents pay more attention to the different needs of their baby throughout the day.
Bonding For Mom
Some moms do not have such an easy time when it comes to bonding with their baby, and it might take a little while before it all sets in. Whatever the reason, if you are a mother working to bond with your baby, this is natural too. When the bond doesn’t happen instantaneously, sometimes there can be pressure or the thought that there is something wrong. You’ve got this Mama.
Skin to skin contact done immediately after birth helps the newborn regulate their body temperature, while also assisting mom with relaxation and stimulating the release of milk for breastfeeding. It also offers a magical bonding experience.
If a mom misses this opportunity, for any number of reasons, you can continue to do skin to skin after the baby is born. This will strengthen the bond between Mama and Baby through the release of hormones stimulated by touch and smell. Yup! That newborn baby smell. It’s true and it’s nature’s way of helping moms want to care for their children.
Remember to put your phone away and focus on your newborn. Spend quality time feeding and bathing your baby, and just taking in all of their newborn goodness.
Pro Tip: Have baby’s dad or your partner take some time off to help care for your other children and maybe even take them on an adventure to give mom some time with the new baby.
Bonding For Dads and Partners
For some dads and partners, bonding can begin as early as their pregnancy. To help foster this early bonding, encourage your partner to attend prenatal visits, scans, and to feel the baby kick whenever possible.
When your baby is born, have your partner involved with feeding your baby if it is possible, changing diapers, putting the baby to sleep, and having some alone playtime together. Not only will this encourage a strong bond between them, but it gives you a bit of a break and some much needed time to rest as well.
It is also encouraged for partners to have skin to skin contact with the baby as well, and this can start as early as the day your baby is born. Once out of the hospital, your partner can bathe with the baby for more skin to skin contact, which is one of the best ways to form a bond, and for your baby to feel safe and become familiar with them.
Help your partner learn how to give your newborn a baby massage. Touch is such a powerful sense, and will not only be a great experience for your baby but a bonding opportunity for your partner as well.
Pro Tip: Encourage your partner to baby wear around the house and when running errands. My husband loved these times with the baby and it really helped them to establish their bond.
Bonding For Siblings
Older siblings might not be able to take over some bonding responsibilities such as diaper changes or bathing, but there are some other ways to keep them involved and to build that very important sibling bond.
Have your older child or children involved throughout the pregnancy. Let them feel the baby kick in the womb, show them the ultrasound photos, and help them understand how their new sibling is developing. You can find household items or pictures to show them how big the baby has gotten, and share stories from when you were pregnant with them.
Pro Tip: While mom is still pregnant, take the older siblings shopping and have them pick out a toy for the baby just from them. Then, when the baby arrives, let them bring this toy to the hospital and give it to the baby, making this moment special for them.
Once the baby is born, let the older sibling tell them stories, lay next to them during playtime and show them some colorful toys or sing them some songs. For more responsibility, you can get the older sibling to be on diaper duty, to fetch your supplies, or to help you during bath time.
Pro Tip: Diaper Duty! Ask older siblings to gather the supplies and hand them to you as you need them while changing the baby’s diaper.
Pro Tip: Story Time! Let your baby’s older siblings choose the story to read before Baby’s naptime.
All of these will encourage a strong bond and will help build responsibility as an older sibling as well.
To help foster and encourage bonding, try to avoid using the baby as an excuse for not being able to do things. This will help the older children to not feel jealousy or other negative feelings towards the new baby.
Helping the family bond with your newborn will encourage everyone to be more in tune with your baby’s needs, and is the best way to build and encourage a strong, loving family structure.