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Forming a Bond With Your Baby -- Why It Isn't Always Immediate

Are There Tips for Bonding With My Baby?

Here are some suggestions that will make it easier to bond with your baby:

  • Ask to room-in with your baby at the hospital. Sleeping in the same room will give you more time to get to know one another.
  • If your baby is premature, ask the hospital staff if you can touch and hold him. Just talking to your baby can help the two of you bond.
  • Once you get home, spend as much time as possible with your baby by wearing her in a sling or carrier, rocking her on your lap, or singing her a song. Your voice and touch can be very comforting.
  • Try giving your baby a gentle massage. Research has found that massage can not only improve the relationship between parent and baby, but it also can relieve stress in premature infants and ease postpartum depression in the mother. To learn how to massage your baby the right way, get a video, read a book, or take a class at a local hospital.
  • Try making skin-to-skin contact with your newborn. This practice, called "kangaroo care," is often used in premature babies, but studies are finding that it's also calming to babies born full-term. It not only helps with bonding, but it also can improve your baby's ability to breastfeed.

Dads sometimes have more difficulty bonding with their new baby, especially because they miss out on the direct contact of breastfeeding. Here are some ways to enhance the father-baby bonding experience:

  • Try to begin bonding with your baby before he is born. Put your hand on your partner's belly to feel the baby kick, go with her to the doctor for prenatal visits, and start thinking about the kind of father you want to be.
  • Be in the delivery room during the baby's birth and take part in the delivery as much as possible.
  • Help out with the baby's care: take over a few late-night feedings, give the baby a bath, change diapers, or sing the baby to sleep.
  • Walk with the baby in a carrier close to your body.

If a few months have passed and you're worried that you still haven't bonded with your baby, talk to your pediatrician. He or she can determine whether a psychological or health issue may be the cause of the problem.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on August 02, 2012

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