Parenting: The Importance of Bonding with Your Baby

We spend nine months (some less than that) physically connected to our mothers via the umbilical cord. Without this connection we wouldn’t even be here. When we are born and that connection disappears, a new, more meaningful one emerges. It is an emotional and psychological connection.

How important is that connection, that bonding?

‘Essential’. The bond that babies have with their mothers and fathers impacts and reflects in their whole life. This idea is so vast that most of us can’t wrap our minds around the fact that the way we connect with our children during those first years has a tremendous impact in their happiness, character, health, self-esteem, academic performance, relationships and growth.

Healthy bonding helps the parts of your baby’s brain responsible for interaction, communication and relationships to grow and develop. Babies who have a deep and loving bond with their mothers have a much better foundation in life than those who don’t. It has been found that the lack of bonding in infants can have a life-lasting effect on a child. Infants who don’t bond are more likely to become anxious and insecure. Bonding creates trust, love, self-confidence and a sense of belonging.

Children with positive and strong bonding with their parents tend to:

  • be more independent (not less),
  • have higher self-esteem,
  • develop better relationships,
  • be more emotionally balanced,
  • enjoy being with others,
  • rebound from disappointment, loss and failure, and
  • communicate more effectively

Contrary to popular belief, the more responsive you are to a baby’s needs, the less ‘spoiled’ he will be growing up. Being responsive does not mean picking up your baby every time he fusses; holding him all day long; or becoming someone you are not or doing things you don’t want to do. It just means understanding your baby’s needs, your baby’s cues and respond to those.

You can develop a healthy, positive bond with your baby even if you decide to go back to work, to hire a nanny, to take some ‘me time’, not to breastfeed, not to co-sleep, not to carry your baby… There are no set rules!

Here are some ideas on how you can develop a positive, loving and healthy bond with your child:

  • Love your baby, unconditionally. Accept your child completely and without restrictions, conditions or stipulations. Make sure that there is no spoken (or unspoken) message making your child feel or think that he has to be something other than what he is in order to be loved. Without unconditional love there can’t be healthy and positive bonding.
  • Know your baby. Each baby is different and the more you know your baby, the better you are going to meet his needs and the easier that bond will be established. Keep a journal and make notes on how your baby communicates with you, and how he responds when you communicate with him. You will soon know how to respond to your baby’s needs.
  • Touch your baby. This can mean kangaroo care when he’s a newborn; daily massages after bath time; cuddling while reading a book; or hugging him. The goal would be for your baby to grow, knowing that your arms are a safe place to fall back on and that they will always be there for him, to support him, but not constrict him.
  • Be present. Whatever you do, make sure you are present in the moment with your child, take time to connect with him, sense his love and let him feel your love.  You don’t need to do anything extravagant to show your baby you love him and you care. Get on the ground and play with him, make silly faces, dance, have fun with him, talk and listen to him… Let go the idea of being ridiculous, embarrassed, or perfect and just enjoy every second you spend with your child.

Every moment you spend with your baby can help create a strong, positive and healthy bond that will last a lifetime.

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Diana Gonzalez Blanco, B.B.A., M.B.A., is a Certified Youth, Parenting and Family Coach; a Baby and Toddler Sleep Expert; and founder of Smooth Parenting. Smooth Parenting is a baby & toddler sleep training consultancy and parenting coaching firm, that helps families around the world get a good night sleep and a peaceful, smooth and happy family life. Diana has an impressive track record of helping families teach their babies to sleep. Her approach to sleep training and parenting is gentle, progressive, effective, holds the wellbeing of the child first, and follows the guidelines provided by the American Association of Pediatrics.

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Reflective Parenting

As we continued exploring the best parenting options, we came accross ‘Reflective Pareting’. Reflective parenting views children’s behavior as meaningful communication that helps parents better understand their children. This approach to parenting sees the ability to reflect on the meaning behind a child’s behavior as being at the heart of sensitive, reflective parenting and as a key to strengthening parent-child bonds.

One of our beliefs is that children act/behave for a reason, and the better we understand those underlying reasons, the better our relationship with them will be. Since this is at the core of what we do and believe in at Smooth Parenting, we were happy to learn about Reflective Parenting and how they support the same principles about the relationship between parent and child.

Reflective parenting asks the parent to consider how her thoughts and feelings affect the child’s experience and vice versa. It aims to develop reflective functioning skills in parents through listening, observing, and thinking about the intentions and feelings underlying the child’s behavior. Rather than a formulated approach, reflective parenting guides parents to evaluate and look within themselves in order to be a strong, reliable container for their children’s emotions. In this way, parents are able to skillfully and thoughtfully approach any situation that arises.

Reflective Parenting is all about our unique human capacity to take another’s feelings, needs, intentions, thoughts and behaviors into consideration before we act and / or respond to our child. It is characteristics like these that can help us to be the best role model as parent that we can be for our children. Like many well intentioned parents, our first choice is to be thoughtful and respectful, especially when under stress. But we’re not always successful, so reflective thinking is an available tool for us to unlock elements of the intimate parent / child relationship in order to understand the subtle and non-verbal cues a child puts out.

Reading to your Kids

I found what this father (and his daughter) did was fantastic! They read and read together, every day, for the past 8+ years! Inspiring story!

Dad Reads to Daughter 3,218 Nights in a Row

When his daughter was in the fourth grade, Jim Brozina offered her a challenge: He wanted to see if the two of them could read together every night for 100 nights in a row. She accepted. When they reached their goal, she said to him quietly, “I think we should try for 1,000 nights.” And that’s how The Streak was born. According to the New York Times, the Brozinas read a total of 3,218 nights in a row, right up until Kristen’s first day of college.

It’s an amazing feat, especially considering that they both had busy social lives, but the Brozinas say it was more than a personal challenge: It was part of the glue that held them together. The Brozinas had been through a difficult year that included losing both grandparents, sending Kristen’s sister off to college and Kristen’s mother leaving her father.

“It was just the two of us,” Kristen told the New York Times. “The Streak was stability when everything else was unstable. It was something I knew would always be there.”

Reading a book together requires coziness and intimacy — and it’s the perfect way to unplug from your busy life and take some time to bond with your child. Here are some tips for getting the most out of reading with your child:

• Find a comfortable spot in the house and make it your own. When one of my kids asks me to read, she heads right for the softest couch in the house, ready to cuddle in. But don’t be afraid to read on the go. We keep books in the car for long waits, and I’ve even been known to share a book over breakfast.

• Make reading together part of your daily routine. Even when kids are old enough to read on their own, parents can read books that are above a child’s reading level to broaden their vocabulary and imagination. I often read chapter books at bedtime, just for this purpose.

• Choose books that are interesting. Those early-reader books are great for reading practice, but it’s the story books that really grab kids’ attention. The more engaged children are at reading time, the more they’ll look forward to it every day.

• Read books that you once loved. My kids are finally ready to hear books like “Beezus and Ramona,” and I couldn’t be more excited. There’s just nothing like passing on a great story to the next generation. On the flip side, be sure to let your kids choose, too. The books that they feel connected to might surprise you.

• Have fun with it. Make up funny voices, be dramatic, add your commentary and, whenever possible, end the session on a cliffhanger.

Source: http://www.momlogic.com/2010/03/dad_reads_to_his_daughter_3218_nights_in_a_row_the_streak.php#ixzz0j43tkphU