Bonding with Your Baby: Before and After Birth

Encourage a lifetime bond that begins before you meet face-to-face—and continues long after your little one’s arrival.

Whether you just found out you’re pregnant or your baby is already kicking, you likely feel some kind of emotional tie. You can make that connection grow stronger even before you’re holding her in your arms. In fact, studies suggest that bonding with your baby in utero can help you make healthful choices and even ease you into the role of parenthood. Once your little one finally arrives, the bonding experience is especially important. Not only will she feel secure, it can also enhance her brain development. So what can you do to nourish that attachment?

Prenatal Bonding

  • Take a prenatal class. Taking prenatal education classes is one way to encourage prenatal bonding help you feel connected to your baby. In one study, researchers found that participating in five one-hour classes during the first and second trimesters had a positive influence on bonding between moms and babies. You’ll likely want to consider an education class on childbirth, but there are also classes available on infant CPR, breastfeeding, and more. Check with your ob-gyn or midwife, as well as with community resources, to find out what types of classes are available.
  • Play a lullaby. If you have a favorite song that you plan to rock your baby to sleep with, you may want to start singing (or playing it) while you’re still pregnant. Researchers found that the babies of moms who played “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” multiple times a week while they were pregnant responded to the music both at birth and again at 4 months old. You’ll be spending many nights singing your little one to sleep, and beginning while your baby is still in utero can contribute to the prenatal bonding process now and once she arrives.

Bonding After Delivery

  • Hold her like a kangaroo. Holding your baby close to you and offering skin-to-skin contact is one easy and important way to bond. Known as kangaroo care, skin-to-skin contact has been shown to minimize crying, encourage sleep, and help babies breathe better. It’s also beneficial for parents, helping you to feel closer to and more confident with your baby. You can also increase bonding with your baby—and make your baby feel secure and attached—by snuggling, kissing, and rocking her throughout the day.
  • Learn as you go. The truth is, bonding isn’t always something that happens the first time you hold your newborn—it can take time to develop your relationship and learn her personal cues. Sometimes due to labor complications or other unplanned circumstances, bonding can take a while. Don’t worry, this is perfectly normal. Bonding can happen at any time and develops differently for each mom-baby pair. Some ways you and your partner can facilitate your bond: Look your baby in the eyes, give her all your attention during feeding time (whether breast- or bottle-feeding), talk to her often, and simply cuddle.