Thursday, September 28, 2017

Baby's First Month - Fun Ways to Bond With Your Newborn

Woo! My baby girl is just two days away from being three weeks old. She's growing like a weed, and it's such an amazing privilege to watch her adapt and thrive in her new environment. While newborns are not super active and are still small enough that they need to be handled with care, there are still some fun ways that you can bond with them, and this is something I am definitely embracing.

Newborns enjoy sleeping a lot (not necessarily when you would like them to sleep, I am learning!), but when they are not snoozing away, they will want to be fed, burped, changed, or shown attention. And this time when they want to be close to you and spend quality time together is a perfect opportunity to bond and have some fun with them! In the beginning, especially when the umbilical stump is still attached to their little abdomen, you may find that skin-to-skin contact and simply letting your little one sleep against you is a great way to stay close, literally and figuratively. Since I am a stay-at-home mom, I like to put something on television and cuddle with my baby girl in this way when she is agreeable to it. One of Katie's favorite things to do right now is fall asleep against my chest, and this is just fine with me!

Another great way to bond with your newborn during their first month is to have tummy time. This is something that needs to wait until after their umbilical stump falls off, but once it does, tummy time for a few minutes per day (always supervised!) is wonderful for their development. I had been eagerly waiting for this, and as soon as Katie's stump fell off I immediately jumped into tummy time! I like to fold up one of her softest blankets, set this down on the floor, and then let her down on her belly. You can do this as well, or use a tummy time mat that will allow them to have items to play with while getting their exercise. After tummy time is over (you only need to let them stay on their stomach for a few minutes per day), be sure to praise your baby for how well they did and give them lots of affection. It's never too early to start building up their self-esteem!

Something that I was excited to learn about that can also provide an opportunity for bonding with your newborn is baby massage. This is a great way to pamper your little one and make them feel absolutely wonderful. Make sure your baby is only clothed in a diaper and laying on a surface that is comfortable for them. Grab a baby lotion that is acceptable for their skin and make sure it is warm before you apply it. Gently rub their body, including their little arms, legs, belly, and even their face. A great way to massage the face is to trace little hearts around their features, starting at the forehead and ending at their chin. Here's a tip that I picked up while working at a day spa: to warm the lotion, apply it to your hands and then press them together for a few seconds.

This one is for moms, but bonding with your baby is also achievable by way of breastfeeding. Feeding your baby in any form is an enjoyable time for both of you, but if you have the opportunity to breastfeed you'll undoubtedly love it. It's also a better way for your newborn to get their nutrition, although there is no shame in feeding your baby formula.

Again, make sure that when you speak to your baby you speak in soothing and positive tones. Even though they can't understand your words they do pick up on your delivery. Savor each moment that you get to rock your newborn, hold him or her, and care for their needs. They won't need us forever, and they certainly won't stay this small. Also, be sure to smile at them and let them know how special they are, and respond to their cries. At this age, they aren't crying to manipulate you or get what they want out of the boundaries of reason. They need your help, and when you respond to them and tend to their needs you teach your newborn that they can rely on you to be there for them. This will certainly carry on as they get older.

Best regards,