Bonding with your Baby
Bonding refers to the unique relationship between an infant and carer. Despite the myth, bonding does not happen in an ‘instant’. After the birth, both mother and baby are often in the process of recovery and adjustment. Like any relationship, bonding develops as a process and it takes time for both infant and carer to get to know one another.
Babies help the bonding process as they are social beings right from the start, very eager to communicate their needs using facial expressions, body movements, and sounds. The relationship begins as carers carefully observe their baby and respond to them. Carers may start to recognise certain behaviours as ‘cues’ e.g. tongue sticking out may suggest she is hungry and rubbing eyes may indicate tiredness. Of course, it is not always possible to know what a baby wants. It is important that parents and carers don't put too much pressure on themselves to be perfect and feel they have to ‘get it right’ straight away.
It is possible to try different responses, observing the baby's reactions to try and work out what they need. Parenting a young infant is rewarding but also challenging and tiring. A parent, who responds sensitively most of the time and uses support to connect with their baby, is completely sufficient to build a healthy bond.
When babies have been responded to sensitively they will develop a very strong and loving bond with parent and carers. This is known as a secure attachment and helps your child to develop good relationships later in life.
Modern parents have so many things to attend to after the birth. If you are about to have a baby or have a new baby, seek support and defer chores and jobs that can wait, so that you can take your time to get to know your baby. If you feel you are struggling with building a relationship with your baby, talk to your GP, health visitor or contact a psychologist in your area who can provide support.
Enjoy this time, knowing that while the foundations are laid in the first year, your relationship with your child is an ongoing process that will continue to develop throughout your child's life.
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