The Secret to Bonding with Baby
So many new parents talk about that special first moment that they hold their newborn or that instant connection that they feel with their new baby.
While this may be true for some parents, it’s also a deep-seated myth that it happens for all parents. About 20 percent of parents don’t feel the bond right away which can lead to post partum issues and a feeling of lack of confidence, especially in new parents. By performing baby massage, parents find that they are able form a much stronger bond to baby and feel empowered because they learn to read their baby’s cues and become more confident on handling them.
If you or someone you know is struggling to feel an immediate bond with your child, you should know that this is completely normal and that there are practical ways to improve your connection with their baby.
Bonding With Baby: Why It Doesn’t Always Happen Right Away
Conditions such as postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, overall parenting stress, fatigue, and more all may contribute to moms and dads not feeling an immediate connection with their newborn baby. In fact, about 10-20% of women may experience serious postpartum depression in the weeks and months after birth.
This condition doesn’t just effect moms, it can also impact dads. Postpartum depression for fathers shows up differently than in women, but it is generally characterized as a major depressive episode. As many as 8-10% of fathers experience some form of depression that reaches highest prevalence between 3-6 months after their child’s birth.
While this experience is more normal than we realize, it doesn’t make it any easier for the parents. Parents should seek out their doctor or healthcare facility to find resources for additional help.
The Power of Baby Massage to Bond
“Every time you pick your baby up, she is getting the feeling that she belongs to you and that you belong to her.” —Benjamin Spock
There is real science to back up this quote by this well-loved pediatrician. The Urban Child Institute compiled research that states the power of gentle touch not just for short term development, but for long term growth and wellness as well. When babies are touched in a loving and consistent way, they learn to trust us and the early bond is formed. Since babies can’t communicate with words, baby massage is the most important non-verbal interaction that teaches parents about what their babies need.
One practical way that mothers and fathers can start to deepen their connection through touch with their child is with baby massage. This helps promote a strong attachment between the parent and child due to the release of hormone oxytocin, also known as the “love” or “cuddle” hormone.
Oxytocin is produced during skin-to-skin contact that happens during baby massage. Increasing the amount of time that parents engage in skin-to-skin contact with their baby is the perfect way to begin to build a bond with your baby. It is a form of attachment parenting that can yield the same benefits as baby wearing and cuddling.
When trying out baby massage, parents should try their best to create a routine with this practice. This will help the baby receive the maximum health and wellness benefits from this skin-to-skin activity.
Here are a few steps parents can take to prepare for baby massage:
- Remove any jewelry
- Wash your hands and trim nails
- Ask baby for permission.
- Dim the lights to help the baby stay calm
- Use soothing talk and explain what you are doing
- If using lotion, pick the most natural options. For oils, avoid any mineral oil and choose Coconut or Sesame oil as it is the most gentle.