Happy father holds his laughing baby in his arms and touches his  forehead.


Newborn Bonding Time

How mums and dads can encourage this process

"Bonding" usually refers to the unique bond between a parent and child. The special bond that unites the two has long been the subject of extensive research and is a highly complex subject that interests many parents: is it possible to encourage bonding? Are there behaviors that may affect this? Mothers who have had a cesarean section in particular sometimes wonder how they can promote bonding. Find out more here.

Why is bonding so important?

Newborns are very vulnerable and are unable to survive on their own. A good relationship with the parents is essential for the baby's survival. But it is even more than that: the first bond that the child experiences shapes its entire life and all future relationships. If this basic trust is strengthened by love and care, it is the best foundation for becoming a strong, self-confident, affectionate person.

The best conditions for successful newborn bonding

The ideal situation is a birth without complications, after which the newborn lies on the mother's bare breast.  The first touch and skin to skin contact is one of the most important stages of bonding parents can make, after birth skin to skin contact with mother or father will support this bond. This gives them both time to get to know each other in peace, to feel, hear, and caress each other. Maybe the baby suckles at the breast for the first time.  

But you can also "catch up" on bonding. The first hours are wonderful for a good relationship between parents and children, but they are not decisive! 

Catching up on bonding

In the case of a cesarean section or complications during the birth, the baby and mother may initially spend the first few hours separately. Simply make up the time: 

  • Spend a lot of time with direct skin contact between you and your baby and catch up on a perfect start in this way. This can be highly beneficial for both of you after an unplanned cesarean section, for example.
  • Slings and other carrying aids, where the baby lies close to the body, also help to strengthen the bond.  
  • Sleeping in the parents' room also provides additional security. To reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) ensure a safe environment, for example with a co-sleeper bed and by laying baby on its back. You can find more about this here
Side view, pregnant woman leans against the wall and puts hands on her belly

Must my baby be with me all the time?

No. A secure relationship is established when your baby feels that its needs are being met. It does not have to be in constant physical contact with its caregiver. 

What helps with parent infant bonding:

  • Cuddling with direct skin contact; Important: newborns cool down very quickly, so it is essential to use a blanket and, depending on the season and room temperature, leave the baby's socks and hat on 
  • Carrying in your arms, in a sling or in a good carry system
  • Being sensitive to the needs of your baby
  • Caressing and looking at your baby while breastfeeding or bottle feeding

How fathers can promote the relationship with their baby

  • Physical closeness: immediately after the birth, the mother naturally has priority, perhaps to try breastfeeding for the first time. However, after this there is nothing wrong with cuddling closely as a trio, or dad and baby cuddling each other. Ideally, the newborn baby wears only a diaper and the father's chest is bear.
  • Attending doctor's appointments/check-ups: supporting your partner and baby by going along to medical appointments will help with the understanding of the baby’s progress and needs. 
  • Making use of your statutory rights: depending on where you live, there may be different options such as parental leave or paternity leave – if the father has the opportunity to spend time uninterrupted with the baby at home due to statutory rights or company arrangements, he should take advantage of this. 

The memory of what you experience together will remain forever and forms the best basis for a very special relationship between father and child.

Photos: Shutterstock

Sources: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Michael_Lamb/publication/16064906_Early_Contact_and_Mother-Infant_Bonding_One_Decade_Later/links/0deec5242d4ee32e38000000/Early-Contact-and-Mother-Infant-Bonding-One-Decade-Later.pdf