In my last blog post, my biggest motherhood challenge - the transition of becoming a mother of two, I shared with you my struggles of bonding with my second child. Now I am going to share with you how I overcame this challenge.
Here are 20 different ways to bond with your child.
1. Skin on skin contact
Don’t underestimate the power of touch.
Touch is essential for mammalian survival, and skin-to-skin contact enables mothers and babies to use all of their senses in nurturing this new and vital relationship.
People always talk about skin-to-skin contact right after birth, but skin-to-skin contact is actually still beneficial even long after birth. The benefits of skin-to-skin are incredible for both parent and child, it helps regulate emotions, cope with stress and create a strong bond.
Ever since we moved to Singapore my boys are always naked and just in their diaper and underwear because of the heat. This actually works out very well for us, because every time I cuddle them or kiss them, it creates a lot of skin-to-skin contact, resulting in a stronger bond between us.
2. Reading to your child
Reading is by far one of my favourite bonding activities with the boys. Not only is it a calming and quiet activity, but it is also great for some one-on-one time with the boys. This quality time of holding your child close while reading, create special moments that you can bond with your child. If your primary language is quality time, this is a great bonding activity to do with your child.
When reading to your child, it exposes your child to the sound of your voice, which is soothing for them. Reading is also a natural and nurturing way to start your little ones interested in books and reading as a life long hobby. When you read together with your child, they view reading as fun and enjoyable, an activity that they can enjoy with their parents.
3. Feeding your Child
Whether you are bottle feeding or breastfeeding, feeding is a natural times for bonding. Infants respond to the smell and touch of their mothers, as well as the responsiveness of the parents to their needs. It is also a great time for parents to hold their child.
If you have toddlers or older children, having meal time together is a great way to bond too. It encourages conversation, eye-contact, interaction, which creates special moments and memories.
4. Talking to Your Child
Even if you think your baby doesn't understand, you are still communicating with your baby when you talk to them. The more you talk to them, the more responsive they will be. As a result, the more rapport you have with your baby.
I love talking to Jasper because he is very responsive when I talk to him. He is very vocal, and he is an early talker, so even now at 18 months old, I can ask him questions and he will be able to tell me his wants and needs. This was a big turning point for us, because the more we were able to understand each other, the closer I felt with him.
If your primary language is word of affirmation, talking to your baby will help with your bonding.
5. Kissig your baby
As you leans down to kiss your child, you smells the scent of your child and through the actual act of kissing; you comes to know the taste of him or her. By doing so you exposed your five senses to the baby so you become attaches to him or her.
I love kissing my boys, because physical touch is my primary language. Every time I kiss my boys, I just feel that much closer to them.
6. Make Your Child Laugh
A child's laughter is the most infectious sound ever. It is the sound of pure joy. When you make your child laugh, you cannot help but smile, making it one of the best bonding experiences.
It will also uplift your spirit and create great memories.
When I hear my boys laugh, all my worries melts away. It is a sound that reminds me why motherhood is worth it.
7. Baby wearing
Babywearing is beneficial to both baby and parents. Babywearing increases the opportunities for close contact between parent and child, which leads to a more secure bond. Children who are carried develop a more secure attachment to their parents.
This is very true in my personal experience. I carried Joshua more as a baby, as I didn't have help when he was born. So Joshua was in a baby carrier with me all the time, which created a very strong bond.
With Jasper, when he napped, I put him down in his crib so I can spend one-on-one with Joshua. Which resulted in a great independent sleeper, however less bonding time between us. Looking back, I do feel this was a contributing factor why I didn't bond with Jasper earlier. Do I wish I carried Jasper more? Yes, but I also understand why I didn't because of practical reasons. But because I didn't carry Jasper all the time, I had to catch up with other bonding activities now.
8. Bathing your baby
Bathing your child stimulates oxytocin, AKA the "love hormone"
Experiencing bath time together can be a mood-boosting experience for both of you. According to Dr. Berzin, “Skin-to-skin contact during bath time stimulates the vagus nerve, which is the nerve that controls the parasympathetic response. This, in turn, allows the body to rest, digest, relax, and heal,”
“Skin-to-skin contact during bath time stimulates the vagus nerve, which is the nerve that controls the parasympathetic response. This, in turn, allows the body to rest, digest, relax, and heal,”
Bathing time is my husband's favourite bonding time with the boys. I have noticed that a lot of dads enjoy bathing their child as their special bonding time. This was my husband's domain for the longest time, I only took over the boy's bath time if my husband is busy.
I, on the other hand, prefer other bonding activities. But saying that I do enjoy bath time, just not my go to bonding method.
9. Cuddle Time
I mean who doesn't love cuddle time. (Well, actually my second child is not much of cuddler, but I still go in for a cuddle.)
Cuddling create attachment for both parent and child. This is particularly effective way of bonding for parent's primary love language is physical touch. Because every time you cuddle your child, you feel loved and secure, and a sense of belonging.
10. Making Eye Contact
You know the saying "eyes are the window of to the soul". It is true, because when you share eye contact with someone, you are communicating.
Research has shown that eye contact activates the limbic mirror system. This means that the same neurons that are firing in someone's brain will also fire in yours when you share eye contact with them. So, if their eyes are communicating joy, neurons on your end will also fire to feel joy. This sharing of emotional states can help you bond with others andincrease empathy between individuals.
This is Jasper's (my second child) favourite way to bond. He loves looking into people's eyes. He always look at you with intent, because that is the way he can read my emotions.
11. Singing to Your Child
Singing to your child strengthens the bond between parent and child, because it helps establish and increase eye contact, which creates a sense of closeness and rapport. When you hold eye contact with your child they get the message that they are important, that they are loved.
When you sing with your child, you will also incorporate touch, holding, cuddles, rocking, patting, smiling, nodding and with older kids dancing when you sing. These activities help develop a secure attachment between parent and child.
Singing also provides lots of of positive shared experiences with your child. Whether it is laughing and smiling together or cuddling up for a lullaby, singing provides positive and rewarding experiences for both the caregiver and child.
12. Respond to Your Child's Cry
The old school Chinese way of parenting will be, let your child cry. As much as I do believe you shouldn't rush to your child the minute they start crying, I also believe it is important to respond to your child when they are crying for your attention, because that is their form of communicating.
A baby's cry can sound very annoying and hard to ignore, but it is also designed to be that way.
Plentiful research has shown these calls to specifically activate adults’ brain regions important for attention and empathy. This makes them highly effective at grabbing the attention of caregivers and orienting them to provide company, safety, food, or comfort.
When you are attend to your child when they cry, it creates a bond between you and your child. They will feel that they are being heard, and as the caregiver, you will also feel a sense of being needed and wanted.
13. Play with your baby
Playing is a great way to bond because when you play, it creates a lot of great memories for both the parents and your child. You can also learn a lot about your child through play. Every child plays differently, and simply by playing with your child, you will discover their character and temperament. I love watching and playing with my boys, because I learn a bit more about them each day.
14. Changing your baby
Changing diapers is probably one of the activities that most new parents dread, but the up side of diaper change is that it is also a good bonding time with your baby.
I always talk to my boys when I change them, when they are babies, I tell them what I am doing, I sing to them and normally sneak in a little tickle too. Now that they are older, I still talk to them as I change them and encourage them to do it on their own. This creates a lot of word of affirmation opportunity for you and your child.
15. Sleep in the same room as your baby
Mother and baby bond no only bond through eye contact, the sounds of the mother's voice but with smell as well. That is why when a baby co-sleep with you in an attachable cot, it increase bonding. When you sleep while your sense of sight is at rest, you and your baby can still bond though the sense of smell.
Both my boys slept in the same room as me for the first couple of months. With Joshua, my first born, my husband and I were in the same room as him. But with Jasper, my second, my husband and I had to divide and conquer, so Jasper was sleeping with me, while he slept in the same room as Joshua. This is interesting because it is also reflected in the way our kids' attachment. Joshua is more attached to my husband majority of the time, while Jasper is more attached to me.
16. Go for a walk with your baby
Going outdoor for a bit of fresh air is always good for your body and soul. Simply by going on a walk with your baby is a great way to bond too. Not only is it great for those who practice sport casting to their babies, but it also creates more opportunity to play while you are out.
17. Dance with your baby
This is one of my favourite way to bond with my kids. It is fun, interactive and a great way for your body to produce happiness hormones: dopamine, serotonin, endorphin and oxytocin.
According to Doherty, dancing with your baby in an environment of reduced stress helps to establish a bond based on trust and support, allowing them to feel more confident in their self-expression.
18. Exercise with your baby
I haven't done much of this myself, but I know moms who love exercising with their babies because it is a great way to bond and do something for yourself too. While you are spending those 15 to 45 minutes with your baby while you work out, your baby looking at you. And I know some moms love to sneak in some kisses too when do modified push-up.
19. Sign up to baby classes
Thinking of activities to do with your baby or toddlers is not always easy, but that is what baby classes are for. It is a great way for both parents and baby to enjoy a class together while the parents don't have the hassle of coming up with different activities.
It is also a great way to meet mom friends too. I go to music class with Jasper every week. Not only does Jasper really enjoys it, but I love it to because I get to see other moms.
20. Take videos of you and your child
I know we all take lots of photos and videos of our children, but it is also good to take videos of you and your baby together too.
I am normally the photographer and videographer in the house, so I have to make a conscious effort to make sure I am in some of the videos with my boys. And the ones I do have with my boys, I really treasure. Not only do I love seeing my boys in videos, but it is also lovely to see the joy on my face when I see my children. It is a great reminder that no matter how hard mother is, it is all worth it. So set a tripod up and start filming.
Not all these methods will work for you, but I hope some of them will. If your partner is the one who is having trouble bonding with your child, share this post with them. It might help them find a way to bond with your baby. Even if doesn't seem natural at first, or you are finding it hard, keep going, you can do this! I promise you the reward is worth it. There is nothing more special than a bond between mother and child.
Sending you love & positive thoughts,