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Bonding with Your Newborn

By Mara Paradis, M.D.

​​​Bonding happens when you and your newborn form and develop an attachment. Your baby feels your love and nurturing attention and learns to trust in you. Babies that form strong bonds with their parents are more likely to trust others and have good relationships as they develop and become adults.

Sometimes bonding with your baby occurs immediately within a few minutes, days or may even take weeks. Bonding may take longer if your baby needed intensive medical care at birth or if your baby was adopted. Whether your baby is biological or adopted, bonding takes place over time so do not feel guilty if it takes longer for you to develop a bond with your baby. With nurturing, your baby will feel your love and a bond will form. Your baby may already be alert after delivery so let the bonding begin!

Boys Town Pediatrics offers tips to help bond with your newborn.

  • Look at your baby during cuddles and cradling. Holding and stroking your baby will soothe both you and your baby and skin-to-skin contact is one of the best ways to bond with your newborn. A baby's best visual link is when they're cradled in their parent's arms so use this time to make eye contact with your little one as they can already see and differentiate contrast. Making different facial expressions and talking can help to familiarize your face and voice for your baby.
  • Feeding. Breastfeeding your baby can also help associate your smell and touch during feedings. If you bottle-feed your baby, you can still form a bond through your smell and touch during feedings.
  • Respond to both immediate needs and play time. When your baby is crying or needs your attention, your immediate response teaches him/her to trust that you will be there. Talking, reading, singing and playing with your baby shows that you are not only there in need, but also to enjoy time together.

If you are not bonding with your baby after a few weeks or you feel detached from your baby, talk to your pediatrician. Your pediatrician may be able to give you and your baby more personalized tips to help create your special bond.