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‘How to bond with my baby’ is a question new mothers often ponder. Here are 10 simple ways to connect with your infant.
Many mothers tell me how they don’t know what to do with their infants in terms of play, especially in the initial months. They say that they don’t know how to engage with their babies at such a tender stage because the baby doesn’t really respond directly to their presence, talk and actions in a way that they imagined s/he might. I think it is totally understandable; both the mother’s question and her baby’s developmental stage.
As a parent, it is natural to feel the need to engage with the child. It is natural to look for ways to stroke the child’s developmental skills that fit into a variety of developmental milestones. In fact, I often encourage mothers to do just this.
However, given that right from the start we focus on doing so many things with our children, it is also important to understand that it is equally important to just be with your little baby.
However, given that right from the start we focus on doing so many things with our children, it is also important to understand that it is equally important to just be with your little baby. A calming interaction is a great way to bond emotionally with children. Moreover, with greater emotional development and attunement, your child is naturally on a path to achieving all the motor, social and language milestones you want him or her to get to.
Here are some calming ways to be with your infant (0-12 months).
Often new-borns are recommended dry massage-without oil or cream. However, I have often given my baby girl a good, gentle oil massage especially before giving her a bath. If you just want to engage in quiet time with her (bath not included) a dry massage is a fun exercise. My little one often goes from cranky to happy when I give her a massage. There are some amazing videos and how-to articles, available on the Internet, on massaging your infant. Take a look at them if you are anxious the first time. Eventually, I just went with what my gut said about my baby’s threshold and pleasure for the kind of massage I would give her. You should too.
Many infants love being tickled, sitting in the quiet of your home. You can play tickle with her and immerse yourself in giggles that emerge on both your lips.
Gentle music plus slow moves/dance is a great way to calm nerves and put both mamma and baby to sleep. It is also a great way to activate/calm auditory senses.
Babies love their mommy’s voices; regardless of how badly or well you sing, just go ahead and sing. What better way to enhance the relationship you both share than to actually sing to your child?
A tender bath is always a gift. Both for the mother and baby. Many first time mothers are anxious about their baby’s first bath, or the first few baths, obviously. Get your midwife, your mother or anyone who has had experience giving a gentle bath show you, or help you with it. The first few times may freak you out, if you are like me. However, once you get the hang of it you and your baby will absolutely love it. They key to it really is to stay calm through the bath. Your baby will pick up on the feeling and mirror it.
Skin-to-skin touch with your infant is one of the most calming moments of all. This not only helps develop a deep connection with the child, but also helps your baby regulate his mood by being connected with you. Co-showering, especially in the evening times, is a great way to wind down and get ready for bed, if you have a toddler too.
If your baby has some left over energy from the day, playing peekaboo with something small before going to bed can help. I often prop my baby girl on my tummy and play a game of peek-a-boo with something as small as a bead, or a cream bottle. I basically hide it in the most obvious places on or around me (like under my tee, or just cover it with my hands) and we giggle for a bit and discover the hidden object. When my baby girl feels satisfied that I didn’t force her to sleep just because it was bed time, she complies to sleep after a few minutes of play like this.
Like I said before, your little one loves your voice. You can talk about what you are doing while you are cleaning out your closet as she watches you. You can tell her about how you and her daddy first met. You can tell her about the friends you have or your siblings. There is no dearth of conversation topics you can choose to talk to your little one when she is listening. She may not understand much of what you are saying, but this is activating her senses, to look at your gestures, hear your tone, pitch and volume, and take in your presence.
Let her be. Just look at her with awe and gratitude. You will realise so many things about this little one of yours when you watch her with openness, wonderment and complete and utter attention. The discoveries you will make will be worth the watch.
Many times during the day the hubby and I come together to kiss my baby all over. From top to toe! This is such a deeply gratifying time for all of us. Try it and look at the pleasure and love your little one experiences.
10 simple things to do and none of them include a toy! Infants really don’t need too many toys. We are so overcome by consumerism that we buy and store a ton of toys our children never even look at twice. Engagement and play are so crucial to every child’s growth. While active play is crucial for the child’s development, quiet play that is calming and focused primarily on creating engagement and relationship with the parent is priceless.
Image of a mother and child playing via Shutterstock
Aarathi Selvan is a clinical psychologist, Mindfulness guide and a Contemplative artist. Trained in the
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