Forming an attachment to your infant child is critical to baby’s development because it establishes a lasting, close emotional connection. Attachments begin at birth, which is why today’s birthing norm includes skin-to-skin contact immediately after birth. This helps make the transition from fetal to newborn life easier. It also allows the baby to be colonized by the same bacteria as the mother. The baby is happier, temperature more stable, while heart and breathing rates stabilize. This immediate attachment is the baby’s natural habitat, and close contact with the mother and father allow the bonding to begin.
While bonding probably began at the first movement or when you saw the first ultrasound scan, the love you feel grows over time. Some, but not all, parents feel a deep attachment to their baby right after birth because of the hormone oxytocin is released during pregnancy and during labor. It helps create a feeling of euphoria and love for your new child and a sense of protection at all costs.
Breastfeeding is another beneficial way for mom to attach to your child. There are so many health benefits to breastfeeding, but the bonding aspect cannot be overlooked.
Other ways to increase attachment are through everyday caring for your child. Holding your child and cuddling keeps your child close. Eye contact helps your child identify with you. Talking and smiling strengthen attachments. All of these acts of love and showing interest in your child create unmistakable bonds over time. This leads to a child that feels loved and cared for which results in happiness, improved health and both emotional and physical development. Studies show there is a direct correlation that attachment helps your baby’s brain grow and develop.
Dad has this own special way of attaching. He can talk to the baby bump, be present at baby’s birth, cut the cord after the birth, and experience the skin-to-skin first moments just like mom does. Dad should hold and change the baby as well as bathe the baby.
While babies instinctively react to the bond occurring between parent and child, some parents may not feel the sense of attachment as early as they think they should. If the feelings do not improve within a few weeks, talk to your health care professional. New parent apprehension is not unusual, but be sure to tune in if the feelings of disconnect persist.
Enjoy attaching to and bonding with your infant child! For more information: