It starts during pregnancy, when everything that you do — your diet, health and stress levels — affect your unborn baby. It's just the opening act in building a mother-baby bond. You find yourself attuned to the baby's movements in utero, and start talking and singing to your baby bump. It's the biology of lifelong love that is just beginning.
Spend as much time as possible with your newborn, concentrating on skin-to-skin touching and eye-to-eye contact. Pick him up when he cries, feed him when he's hungry. Babies understand who is most responsive to them, and you are building trust each time you comfort and care for them. Touch and cuddle your infant often.
A baby's facial expressions give obvious clues to their likes and dislikes, so pay attention! Reactions to sounds and the way a child responds when held, tickled and talked to help you learn ways to soothe and entertain them. Your baby's cries are a language of their own, helping you to know when it's time to be fed, changed or held. Understanding what the baby is communicating will teach them to cry less and strengthen the bond of trust you are building together.
A baby learns a routine quickly: a mommy-and-me walk every day, story time, music and singing. Share your favorite!
Infant massage is a practice that bonds you to your baby and benefits the child in additional ways. Gentle massage relaxes muscles, increases and improves circulation and relieves stress for both of you. A regular bedtime massage can help the baby fall asleep faster and get more restorative rest. This can be part of a routine that's important for mom and baby. Rocking, holding, singing and other rituals that the baby likes become routines that the baby looks forward to. Even young infants understand established routines.
Scientific evidence shows that we're hardwired to connect to our kids. Pheromones, the chemicals we secrete to attract a partner, are also secreted by our babies. Most moms are able to identify their newborns by scent alone after having spent as little as 10 minutes with them. A baby recognizes his mother's scent, too. Kissing may have evolved as an affectionate gesture, because it puts the nose in direct contact with the base of our partner's nostrils, where these pheromones are generated.
Scent bonds child to mother, and so does a smile. We are designed to be smitten with our babies. The mother-and-child bond assures infant protection, nurturing and care. Touch, sight, scent and sound are all powerful tools that build this bond from the beginning and keep strengthening it over time.
Need more great ideas for spending quality time with your baby? Check out Baby's Day Out City Guide — you'll discover all the top baby-friendly destinations and how to enjoy them with your little one.
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