7 Ways to Bond With Your Baby
3. When new parents come into our office for their newborn's first checkup, we give them a crash-course in baby-wearing. I like to demonstrate the technique with dads. It's a treat for new moms to watch me drape the baby sling over dad, position baby comfortably inside and watch the pair stroll around the office. In addition to enjoying a physical connection with either parent, a baby can learn a lot in the arms of a busy caregiver: Getting a mom's-eye view helps baby tune into his environment and the people around him. It's also another way to involve dad in attachment parenting. In fact, I've had new moms in my practice tell me that once their mates get the hang of baby-wearing, they're hooked.
4. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies sleep in the same room as mother, on separate sleeping surfaces, to reap the benefits of nighttime attachment. When bedding close to baby, try a co-sleeper, a bedside bassinet that attaches safely to your bed, to keep baby within arm's reach and in a safe sleep environment.
5. A baby's cry is her way of communicating with you. Listen to it and believe in the value of her "language." Babies cry to communicate, not to manipulate, so learning how to decipher your baby's cries and respond appropriately -- whether with a feeding, a diaper change or a simple, comforting touch -- teaches her to trust you to understand her needs and take care of them. As that bond grows and you become accomplished at anticipating her needs before she becomes upset, you may even find that she cries less.
6. I'm sure you've heard well-meaning friends and relatives deluge you with their personal how-to's: "Get her on a schedule." "Let him cry it out so he learns not to manipulate you." "You're spoiling her by carrying her so much." Beware of this baby-training.
Certainly, you should modify attachment parenting to help your baby fit into your family and your lifestyle. After all, being child-focused is not the same thing as being indulgent. (In fact, I've based AP on the idea that being responsive to baby ultimately helps him develop the tools and confidence to become an independent, self-assured, caring person.) But when carried to an extreme, babytraining is a lose-lose situation. By following someone else's preconceived formula for interacting with your baby, you lose trust in your ability to read and respond to his cues, while he loses trust that you believe and value those cues.
7. When our son Matthew was a baby (and occasionally a high-needs one at that), my wife would sometimes lament that he needed her so much she didn't even have time to take a shower. Sound familiar? I would remind her that what a baby needs most is a happy, rested mother. Remember: The right dose of the right medicine is healing, but an overdose can sometimes hurt. The same is true of attachment parenting. This is why I think balance and boundaries are so important. In your zeal to give so much to your baby, it's easy to neglect your own needs and those of your marriage. Early on in the AP process I ask new parents, "Is this working for you? Is your baby thriving? Are you thriving? If not, let's modify things."
As you use and adapt these tools to enhance your family life, you should come to experience mutual giving. Though attachment parenting may initially seem like one big give-a-thon, it's really about parents and babies giving to each other. The more responsive you are to your baby, the more responsive baby will be to you. Before you know it, the principles of AP will become second nature for all of you, and you'll be well on your way to creating a happy, close-knit family.