advice

the strongest link:
how to bond with your baby

You've anticipated it for so long, and your baby is finally here! It's exciting, but for many of us the first few days don't feel quite like the movies. That rush of love you've heard so much about can take a while to arrive. And adjusting to all the sleepless nights can test anyone's patience. Don't worry: all of this is normal! Bonding with baby often takes time, but there are plenty of things you can do to help the magic happen.

bonding tips to help you bond with your baby

skin-to-skin contact

There are few things more lovely than a mother and newborn baby snuggling. Skin-to-skin contact is a great way to strengthen the bond between you. It can also help to calm your baby and make breastfeeding easier.

Here's how to do it: just undress your little one, down to their nappy, and place them on your chest, so that their tummy is next to your skin and their head is turned to one side. You’ll want to keep the room nice and warm, but try to make sure you’re not feeling too sleepy: it can be risky to fall asleep with your baby on your chest. Why not take the chance to drink in your baby's gorgeousness instead, and maybe relax with some music.

babywearing

Your baby will want to be held as much as possible in those early days. Don’t worry too much about the housework – no one will mind a few dust bunnies. When you need to get out and about, a sling can help to keep your little one close to you. Babywearing isn’t just for mums – it’s a fantastic way to help dads bond with their babies too. There are lots of slings and carriers to choose from, some of which can be used from birth, right up to when your child is a toddler.

feeding

Breastfeeding can help you to bond with your child. For something so natural though, it often doesn’t come that easily. So please don’t be afraid to ask for support. Your midwife or health visitor might be able to recommend a local breastfeeding support group, or you could give the National Breastfeeding Helpline a call on 0300 100 0212. Sometimes it’s as simple as trying a different feeding position.

If you’re not breastfeeding, bottle feeding can still help both mums and dads to bond with their child. Try skin-to-skin contact while you’re feeding your baby. Enjoy the time spent cuddling them, and try to focus on your baby, rather than any other distractions. (Not always easy, we know!)

making eye contact

It’s pretty amazing that your bump is now a whole new human being: now it's time to get to know them. See what comes naturally, but many mums love to smile, look into their eyes and chat away to their baby. Don't worry that they can't understand just yet: they'll recognise and love your voice. Not sure what to say? Try singing nursery rhymes, babble in baby talk or just chat about your day.

keep your baby close

Your little one will need to sleep in your room for at least the first six months. A Moses basket or cot beside your bed is ideal. If you decide to bedshare though, do check out all the guidelines to make sure you keep them safe and sound.

don’t forget dad!

Fathers can follow most of the advice above to help strengthen their bond with their baby. It’s also a great way to give mum a break: bonding is easier when you're both rested. Mums aren’t superhuman, after all – they need to recharge their batteries too!

still worried?

Lots of women feel a bit weepy or unprepared in those first few days: you've been through a lot! But if you just can’t shake the feeling off, or are still struggling to bond with your baby after a couple of weeks, do have a chat to your midwife or doctor. Postnatal depression affects more than one in ten women, but with the right help you can soon be back to your old self and enjoying a special bond with your newborn.