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12 Ways to Bond With Your Baby

1) Get to Know Your Bump

When you're pregnant, what you do, your diet, your stress level and your health affect your baby, so pregnancy is a great time to get a head start on building a strong mother/child connection. Pay close attention to your baby's kicking and moving, and talk to her -- say anything. Plus, getting to know her in utero will make labor less overwhelming.

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2) Become BFFs

Spend as much time as possible with your baby, your new best friend forever, by getting mucho skin-to-skin and eye-to-eye contact. Feed her when she's hungry, pick her up when she cries -- even if you have no idea what she wants. Your responsiveness will deem you trustworthy in her tiny eyes.

Mother-Baby Bond: The Biology of Love, with Deepak Chopra, MD:

 

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All of TheVisualMD.com images and associated research made possible by a grant from Mead Johnson Nutrition, the makers of Enfamil.

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3) Breastfeed As Much As You Can

Not only is nursing ideal time for skin contact, it's an exercise in baby reading. Check out her facial expressions and body language. By showering her with nourishment and attention, your baby learns to trust and be comforted by you. If you're unable to nurse (or if you're a dude), use bottle feedings as an opportunity to bond in the same way -- by feeding with lots of touching and talking.

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4) Pay (Lots of) Attention to Your Baby

By paying close attention to your baby's facial expressions and reactions, you'll become an expert on her likes and dislikes, whether it's a song that makes her perk up or the way you hold her that makes her fuss. Teach her your likes and dislikes, too. Sing her your favorite Beatles songs or make up your own special kiss.

Get to Know Your Baby -- Her Cardiovascular System:

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5) Make a Special Code with Your Baby

Find a routine of rocking, holding, or patting that you and your baby like, and make it your own. Your baby will look forward to expecting established routines -- it's easier to default to what works than to think of something new.

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8 Ways Your Baby Says She Loves You

All of TheVisualMD.com images and associated research made possible by a grant from Mead Johnson Nutrition, the makers of Enfamil.

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6) Wear Your Baby

Slings, used safely, let you get up close and personal with your little bundle of joy, and a sling ride is a great way for your baby to see the world through your eyes.

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Sling Babies

7) Sleep Near Your Baby

To bond all night long, let your baby sleep in your room in a bedside bassinet that you can attach to your bed, so she'll be close to you and safe.

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All of TheVisualMD.com images and associated research made possible by a grant from Mead Johnson Nutrition, the makers of Enfamil.

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8) Listen to Her Cry

Your baby's cries are her own little language, and learning to translate them will help you know when she needs to be fed, changed, or just kissed to pieces. By knowing what she's trying to tell you, she'll learn to trust you (and may start crying less.)

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9) Massage Her

Infant massage is an age-old practice that bonds you to your baby and relaxes her muscles, increases circulation, and reduces stress (for both of you.) Plus, a 15-minute bedtime massage will help your baby fall asleep faster and rest better. Here's how it works:

Before You Massage, See Her Muscular System:

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All of TheVisualMD.com images and associated research made possible by a grant from Mead Johnson Nutrition, the makers of Enfamil.

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10) Don't Stress if It's Not Going Well

If she doesn't seem to be bonding back, get creative:

  • Lie beside her on the floor and talk, sing, blow kisses, whisper, or read to her.
  • Use every opportunity, like diaper changes and bathtime, to touch and play.
  • Dance and move with her. Babies love to boogey!
  • Try baby massage -- some non-cuddly babies respond well to massage.
  • Swaddle her

Finally, if you don't feel an immediate connection, don't sweat it. Some moms say they don't fall in love with their babies until their babies start staring back into their eyes, which doesn't happen until about 2 months.

Discover Baby's Neurological Development:

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11) Don't Forget About You

Babies need their moms to be happy and you need to recharge in order to be a great mom. If you need a break, find a family member or friend to take over -- even for an hour -- so you can have time to yourself. You'll all be happier in the end.

You'll be flooded with advice, and not all of it will work for you. Don't listen to every do and don't that you hear from friends, family, or even parenting websites. Find out what works for you.

Finally, remember that going back to work will not harm your bond. Continue to spend as much time with your baby as you can (even if it means letting the housework slide.)

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12) Get Dad Involved

Dad's can't breastfeed, but they can:

  • Cuddle, change, and bathe baby.
  • Burp her after you breastfeed. (Try introducing a bottle of expressed breast milk once nursing is well established so your partner can take part in feeding -- and give you a break.)
  • Take the night shift. (You get sleep and he gets special bonding time.)
  • Sing, talk in funny voices, play, or engaging in any way that only daddies can.

Remember that you can't do it alone. Having your hubby's support will relieve your exhaustion and reduce your risk of postpartum depression.

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New Dad Guide
You Can't Go It Alone

All of TheVisualMD.com images and associated research made possible by a grant from Mead Johnson Nutrition, the makers of Enfamil.

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