In the past, many people believed that newborn babies were “blank slates” that didn’t have any personalities or preferences. Today, we know better. Babies form clear preferences for people and environments – and that means bonding is vital.
For birth parents, the bonding process starts before the baby is even born. However, for adoptive parents, you need to take extra time to ensure you and your baby bond. Here are some tips to jump start the bonding process for adoptive parents:
One of the best ways to create a bond with your newborn is to keep them close. Skin-to-skin contact isn’t just beneficial immediately after birth, it helps your baby bond with you throughout infancy. Your baby will be exposed to your scent and hormones, and the warmth from your body helps them relax and feel secure.
When skin-to-skin contact isn’t practical, you can also wear your baby in a harness or sling. A front sling is perfect for young infants and allows your baby to grow used to your scent, your heartbeat, and your voice. It’s also practical, since it keeps your baby close while leaving your hands free to do other tasks.
Another way to create a bond with your new baby is through regular “face time.” Eye contact helps your baby recognize you and associate your face with care, comfort, and love. Make sure you make eye contact during feedings and when putting your baby to sleep, as well as throughout the day.
Along with skin-to-skin and eye contact, vocal “contact” is equally important in creating a strong bond with your child. It’s a good idea to talk to your child whenever you are focused on them to build the association between your voice and feelings of comfort.
One thing to avoid, however, is too much baby talk. Instead, talk to you child in soft tones but using full words and sentences. This will get them used to the way you really sound, and it will also help them learn to process language better and start speaking on their own.
In many ways, bonding with an infant is about creating trust. For babies, there is no better way to get them to trust you than to be responsive and available when they need you. There are a variety of different rules and strategies for so-called “rapid response” parenting, but the gist of it is simple: go to them when they cry or call out for you, and do so relatively quickly.
By responding rapidly to your child’s calls for help and attention, you show them that they can depend on you for safety and comfort. This is an important feeling to create, especially in early infancy. As your baby’s trust in you grows, so will the bond between you as parent and child.
Finally, one of the most important parts of bonding with your baby is knowing when you need a break. It might sound counterintuitive, but it’s important for all parents to have some time to destress and recharge now and then. Too much infant contact and caregiving can leave you burnt out and frustrated, which your baby can absolutely pick up on.
When you’re feeling a little thin, see if you can leave baby with your spouse, parents, or a sitter for a few hours. Go do something for you – grab a coffee at your favorite coffee shop, go see a movie, or buy yourself a little present at the store. In short, make sure you take time to care for yourself, not just your child.
Get Help from Adoption Professionals
One of the best ways to make the adoption process easier from start to finish is to work with an experienced and trustworthy agency like Deaconess Pregnancy and Adoption. With more than 100 years of adoption experience, we can help you through every part of your adoption. Call (405) 949-4200 today to learn more or visit us on Facebook to see what others have to say.