You are the most important person in your baby’s life and that’s the way it should be. This can be seen in many ways. For a very young baby, there’s no greater joy than looking at Mum or Dad’s face.
IT ALL STARTS WITH EYE CONTACT
Babies can spend a long time just looking at your eyes and your mouth. They find this exciting from the moment they’re born. Researchers know that two-hour-old infants make their first attempts to communicate by intensively studying Mum or Dad’s facial expressions and gestures, and listening to their tone of voice.
During the first months of a baby’s life, they find faces the most exciting thing to look at, but in the beginning babies react to virtually all faces and can often respond with a big smile. It takes a while for babies to become selective and start preferring the faces of their nearest and dearest.
A baby’s interest in looking at other people – and faces in particular – is an element of the process known as bonding. This is the baby’s ability to form a connection to one or two people around them – usually the parents. The intensity of the bonding process is greatest during the baby’s first year and they enjoy being close to you from day one, preferably skin-to-skin and listening to the sound of your voice.
BONDING FROM DAY ONE
The baby’s ability to bond with the person closest to them from an early age originally served as a means of protection from the dangers of the great big world, which the baby would have no chance of surviving alone. The bonding process between you and your baby begins during your baby’s first hours of life. It remains ongoing throughout your child’s first year of life – it’s during this time that the relationship between you and your child develops most intensively.
Simply put, it’s about your child learning to trust one or two people in their immediate proximity, and your baby realizing that Mum or Dad is always there to provide comfort, food or a cuddle. Good bonding is important and strengthens your child’s self-esteem throughout their life. Your child knows they have someone caring and supportive in their life, and this knowledge will benefit them as adults too.
WHY DO BABIES CRY?
“It’s vitally important for you and your baby to bond with each other. Carry your baby around and respond to your baby’s crying with touch and small talk,” advises Doctor Amanda Weiss Kelly from one of the largest university hospitals in the U.S., Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. “Think of your baby’s crying as a signal that something’s wrong. This is your baby’s way of trying to let you know that they need your help with something. By responding to their crying, you’re showing your baby they can depend on your presence and willingness to help.”
Think of your baby’s crying
as their way of trying
to let you know
that they need your help.
Babies also tend to be soothed by listening to the sound of Mum or Dad’s heartbeat and breathing. These are small everyday sounds that your baby recognises from their time in the womb. When your baby learns that you come when they cry, and by encouraging your baby’s interests and showing that you care, the bond between you grows stronger and stronger.
“Babies usually like to make contact by looking at your face, so by all means carry your baby so they can look up at you from time to time,” advises Amanda Weiss Kelly. “The bonding patterns your baby develops will be reflected in all of your child’s future relationships. By creating bonding opportunities, you will be promoting your child’s lifelong willingness to trust other people and their belief in their own abilities. So bonding is more important than you might think.”
Text: Anna-Maria Stawreberg – http://www.babybjorn.co.uk/campaigns/your-first-year/carry-close-bonding/