building a bond
Baby basics

7 ways to help you bond with your baby

A strong bond between parent and baby will affect how a child interacts, communicates and forms relationships throughout life. Find out how to strengthen the connection.

Bonding is the unique emotional relationship between parent and baby. It is what makes a parent want to instinctively care for and nurture their child. The bonding process can actually begin while you are pregnant. It can start to happen when you feel those first hiccups or little movements. It could also be the first time you see your baby at the ultrasound scan. Bear in mind that bonding takes time so don’t feel guilty or anxious if it doesn’t happen immediately.

7 ways to help you bond with your baby

1. Breastfeeding

Nursing your baby is a lovely way to have skin-to-skin contact with your little one. You can also use the opportunity to gauge your baby’s mood by looking at her facial expressions and body language. Giving your baby lots of TLC and nourishment will help your baby to learn to trust and be comforted by you

2. Keep talking and smiling

Babies love to listen to people talking and to your conversations. Talk to your baby when you’re out for a walk, describe the surroundings, tell them what you’re planning on cooking for dinner – babies really enjoy a chat. Try to do all this with a smile on your face – research shows that newborn babies can recognise your voice and a smile.

3. Makes faces

You will notice your baby from an early stage imitating your facial expressions and gestures. So make lots of silly faces and smile to your baby as much as you can. You can do this when you’re changing her nappy or during bath time.

4. Skin-to-skin

Touch is one of the earliest forms of communication for a baby. Mothers and babies are naturally primed to get to know each other as soon as possible after birth – this is why skinto- skin contact straight after birth is so important – research has shown that it helps mothers to release endorphins – the hormones that help you to feel calm and responsive to your baby’s needs.

The practise, sometimes called ‘kangaroo care’, is often used in premature babies, but studies show that it’s also calming to babies born full-term. It not only helps with bonding, but it can also improve your baby’s ability to breastfeed. Skin-to-skin contact is a great way for dads to bond with baby. Other bonding activities could include singing to baby, bathing baby and changing nappies.

5. Sing a tune

Humming or singing your favourite song can be really relaxing for baby. Don’t worry about how your voice sounds – your little one will love it!

6. A tender touch

Massaging your baby can be great for bonding with baby as it encourages the release of your body’s happy hormone oxytocin. Massage helps you to work out how your baby is feeling too. Babies love to be touched and held – massage helps to reduce stress and encourages sleep.

7. Bonding and your baby’s brain

The attachment bond is an important factor in how your baby’s brain organises itself and affects your child’s social, emotional, intellectual and physical development. A secure bond provides your baby with an enthusiasm to learn, self-awareness, trust and to consider others.

Dad’s tip

“When I come from home from work, I like to pick up my seven month old daughter Alice and walk around the house with her sitting on my chest and we have a chat. I also lie her on my legs with her head resting on my knees. She loves it because of the constant contact and the warmth from my body,”

  • Joe Griffin

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Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….



Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.