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Bonding with your new baby

Building a relationship with your baby is the best way to help them develop positive emotional well-being.

Your baby’s brain develops rapidly during the last three months of pregnancy and up to two years of age. Your baby can hear your voice from 24 weeks into your pregnancy. From this time onwards, you and your baby can start to get to know each other.

Building a relationship together is a good foundation for building a happy, healthy baby and child. Babies are born with the ability to be sociable and to communicate with you. If you take time with your baby, you’ll help them develop their skills and you’ll soon learn what they want and need.

During pregnancy

You might feel a little worried, anxious or stressed about your changing body and the well-being of your baby. This is perfectly normal.

Your bump will be getting bigger as your unborn baby develops, preparing for life outside the womb. Now is a great time to start building a connection with your baby, by yourself and your partner talking and singing to your bump. This will help to develop a bond after the baby is born as they will recognise and feel comforted by your familiar voices. Make sure you take some time for yourself too, such as going for a short walk or a relaxing bath, as it's important for you to remain relaxed and calm.

You can start to create a bond with your baby by:

  • Talk or sing to your baby every day
  • Play music to your baby
  • Stroke your bump
  • Get your partner and other family members such as siblings to talk or sing to the bump; they could even stroke the bump
  • Notice your baby’s movements and respond by touching and talking to your bump. Recognise your baby’s pattern of sleep and movement.

After birth

As soon as possible after the birth hold your baby close in skin to skin contact. You might notice that when you do this, your baby is calmer, and more able to keep warm and regulate their breathing and heartbeat. It will also release hormones within you to help with bonding. Make sure your partner gets some time for skin to skin contact too. Gently stroke your baby and allow him or her to focus on your face. This is a perfect time to try and breastfeed if you have chosen to.

Ways to bond with your baby:

  • Stay close to your baby day and night. This helps your baby feel safe and allows you to respond quickly to your baby’s needs. Feeding, particularly breastfeeding, is established more quickly when mother and baby are together. Learning your baby's cues for hunger, tiredness or needing comfort, for example, will help to establish a close bond and help your baby to feel secure.

  • Place your baby on your tummy with their head near your breast. Your baby will like to be held close, and it will help him or her feel safe and secure. If you do this regularly, it will increase your milk supply if you are breastfeeding.

  • Gently cuddle and stroke your baby to make them feel loved.
  • Allow your baby to focus on your face. From birth, your baby will only be able to see about eight inches from their face. Your baby will love to watch your face so hold them close. Talk, sing, smile and listen to your baby. This triggers hormones that help your baby’s brain growth. Your baby will smile from birth until about eight weeks using a reflex response. From about six to 12 weeks your baby will be able to smile properly. Watch your baby smile and smile back. 
  • Enjoy quiet time with your baby. Most babies can hear well from birth. What they love best is to hear your voice. Reduce all background noise, switch off the television, and talk and sing to them. Play around with the sounds you make changing from low to high pitch to keep them interested and watch for their response.
  • Get to know your baby’s feeding cues and make sure you respond when they need you to. If your baby is breastfed, the more your baby feeds the more milk is produced. Feeding can soothe and comfort your baby and create a very personal time together. Find out more about breastfeeding and bottle feeding.
  • Understand your baby’s needs and comfort their crying as soon as possible
  • Use a parent facing pram. This allows your baby to see you and for you to respond to each other. Talk and sing to your baby when you’re out with them. You might like to wear a sling to carry your baby, either at home or when you’re out.
  • Baby massage is a great way to bond with your baby and relax them, and also helps with any trapped wind. View the video below to learn how to massage your baby.

 

 

 

If you have any questions or concerns about bonding with your baby or your mental health, talk to your Health Visitor or GP.

If you feel you are struggling with your mental health during pregnancy or up to a year after birth, please look at our Perinatal mental health pages for information on how you can access our services.

We also have lots of information on our postnatal depression pages.

 

 

You can find additional help on how to bond with your new baby by visiting:

 

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