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  • Writer's pictureMarvellous

Bonding with your newborn baby

You start bonding with your baby before they even enter the world. While your baby was in the womb, you may have enjoyed speaking or singing to them, feeling their kicks, and listening to their heartbeat — all contributing to building that early bond. 


When your little one arrives, you can further nurture this connection through simple yet impactful moments like skin-to-skin contact, feeding, playing, and eye contact. 


Some parents feel an instant bond and connection from the moment they are handed their baby, while others may find it takes a little longer as they get to know their little one over time. It's important to remember that both are normal, this experience is different for everyone; try not to pressure yourself or set specific expectations. Bonding with your baby is a journey, and there are simple ways to help build that connection, which we will explore below. 


Gentle Touch: Gently touching your baby with a soothing rub or tender tickle on their arms, legs, or cheeks is a delightful experience for your baby.  


Skin-to-Skin Contact: Embrace plenty of skin-to-skin contact as it’s proven to be a wonderful way to bond with your baby, especially during those initial days. Encourage your partner to participate, fostering their bond with the baby too. 


Cuddles: Cradle and gently rock your newborn, providing warmth and reassurance. Having your baby in a sling or holding them securely in your arms keeps them close and connected with you. 


Eye Contact: During feeding, cuddles, and even nappy changes, maintain lots of eye contact with your baby. Engaging through chatting, singing, and eye contact strengthens your connection. 


Talking and Singing: Communicating and singing to your baby familiarises them with your voice, offering lots of comfort and reassurance. 


Baby Massage: Introduce baby massage post-bath and before bedtime as a delightful bonding activity. You may like to consider joining a baby massage group when your baby is around 6 weeks old. It will be led by a qualified teacher who can show you the right techniques that you can then repeat at home. The courses are usually 5-6 weeks long and it's a lovely way to meet other parents and for your baby to start making their very first few friends. 


Reading Together: Even though newborns might not understand the words, reading aloud to them introduces language, rhythm, and familiarity with your voice. 


Exploring Outdoors Together: Taking gentle strolls or spending time outdoors with your baby can be a lovely bond experience. Nature walks or simply sitting in a park together can help calm you and your baby making it easier to bond, particularly if you’ve felt cooped up in the house. 


Responding to Cues: Acknowledging and responding to your baby's cues fosters trust and security, reinforcing the bond. Understanding their cues for hunger, discomfort, or tiredness strengthens the connection between you and your baby. 


Bath Time: Bathing your baby can be an intimate and bonding experience. Sharing this activity with your partner allows both of you to engage in caregiving and bonding moments with the baby. It can also be lovely to bond with your baby by bathing together. Safety is key, so for details on safely bathing with your baby, check out our Bathing Your Baby chapter. 


How much should you be cuddling and bonding with your baby? 

As much as possible. It’s incorrect that cuddling or holding your baby too much will lead them to be “demanding” or “clingy”. Babies need you to respond to their needs and thrive off feeling loved and safe.  


This sense of security in babies triggers the release of oxytocin, a hormone that contributes to their happiness and fosters neurological development. Holding, smiling and chatting with your baby also triggers the release of oxytocin in you as well. This shared hormonal response nurtures and strengthens the growing bond between you and your little one. 


Why am I not bonding with my baby? 

Not experiencing an immediate rush of warm, fuzzy feelings is entirely normal and can occur for various reasons. From the changes your body went through during pregnancy to the challenges of breastfeeding and the sleepless nights, these things can all impact how you feel and how you bond with your baby. 


Some other things that might play a part include: 


  • Difficult Birth: Experiencing a traumatic or challenging birth can commonly make it more difficult to initially bond with your baby. You’ll be recovering both physically and mentally so it might take some time to establish that connection with your little one. 

  • Expectations: Sometimes what you thought pregnancy and parenthood would be like doesn’t match up with reality, making it tougher to connect right away. 

  • Mental Health: If you're dealing with things like anxiety, depression, or other difficulties with mental health, that can also make bonding harder. 

  • Life Situations: Anything from tough relationships and feeling isolated to financial worries and lack of support can affect your bonding journey.  

  • Lack of Sleep: Dealing with sleep deprivation can leave you feeling utterly drained, frustrated and irritable. When you're running on minimal sleep, bonding moments might feel scarce or strained. 


If you aren’t feeling a strong bond with your baby, it’s important to seek additional support. There are some amazing UK organisations dedicated to providing families with the necessary help, and we’ll list a few below. Additionally, don't hesitate to reach out to your health visitor or GP if you're struggling or have any concerns about your baby. 


  • NHS Start4Life: A valuable resource for parents and families, offering information and guidance on pregnancy, baby care, and early childhood development.  

  • NCT (National Childbirth Trust): Provides information and support on pregnancy, childbirth, and early parenthood. They offer antenatal classes, breastfeeding support, and parenting courses.  

  • Gingerbread: Offers advice and support for single parents, including online forums, information on benefits, and practical guidance.  

  • Mind: While primarily focused on mental health, Mind offers support and resources for parents experiencing mental health difficulties during pregnancy and after childbirth.  

  • Relate: Offers relationship support for couples, families, and individuals, including counselling and advice on various relationship challenges.  

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