Creating close bonds with my children has been a strong focus for me ever since they were born. I think most of us would say that.
I'm thankful for all the time I've had to connect with my kids and build a strong foundation with them when they were young. I've made lots of mistakes, but there are a few foundational things I think I got right.
I continue to do many of the same things I did when they were babies, just in different ways. Building relationships takes time and attention, but I hope this foundation will continue to bring my kids love, security and assurance as they grow and mature.
Looking back, there are four things that stand out to me as foundational for establishing a close bond with my children when they were babies, I bet you already know many of these, if not, I hope they will encourage you:
1. Hold them (a lot)
There's not much better than holding a sweet-smelling newborn. It's one of the best feelings in the world (can be exhausting, too. But it's still awesome).
I remember my mother-in-law, who was staying with us, going out to get groceries when my son was just a few days old. I sat in my robe on the rocking chair and held him. Looked at his precious little face and tried to take in every inch of his cuteness. When my mother-in-law returned, I was still sitting there, rocking him. I remember her commenting that I was in the exact same place when she left. And it was true. I hadn't moved. Holding him felt so right.
But I didn't always have the luxury of sitting in the chair and holding my baby. Sometimes I needed to do things!
When I needed to be more mobile, I'd wear my babies is a baby carrier or sling. It gave me comfort to have them close to me, and I think it helped my babies feel secure. It strengthened the bond between us.
Sometimes I got tired, but I don't regret a minute of it. I loved doing my groceries while they slept in the carrier. Or taking a walk with them in the sling if they were fussy, or I was agitated. Usually after a few minutes they settled right down and went to sleep (and I felt better, too).
Using a baby carrier (like these wonderful carriers from Boba) helped save my sanity. I didn't worry that I was neglected my baby to get things done, I just took them along for the ride. We were both happy.
When my second and third babies came along, the baby carrier was essential! I needed my hands free as much as possible!
2. Breastfeed them
I know some women are unable to breastfeed, but if it is at all possible, I can't recommend it enough. I found that nursing my baby established a very strong connection between us. And I don't think I imagined it, research shows hormones are released in the mother during breastfeeding which promote bonding and attachment to the baby.
If you are not able to breastfeed, hold the baby close while feeding, look at them, stroke their hair, it will promote closeness between you and build that bond.
3. Sleep with them
I'm a co-sleeping mama for about the first year or so (a bit less with one of my kids). I found co-sleeping really connected us. I slept better because I didn't worry about my baby, since they were right there. I could also nurse while resting in bed at night.
If you don't want to co-sleep, perhaps you could try taking a nap with baby every now and again? A sleeping baby snuggled by your side is one of the sweetest things in the world (there may be a few kicks in the ribs as well, but it's still good).
4. Talk to them
I read lots of baby books before my oldest child was born. In one of them I learned the importance of talking to babies. I'm so glad I learned this little tidbit, as it was one of the best things I did for my daughter. I chatted with her when we were out and about, describing what I saw, or telling her about our activities.
I even did mini-cooking shows! When she was old enough to sit in a high chair, I'd bake up something and tell her about each step . . . “Now I'm pouring in one cup of flour. Now I'm going to stir it. Stir, stir, stir.”
It sounds goofy now, but as a young and unsure mother, this method of describing what I was doing gave me a way to talk to my baby when I really didn't know what else to do!
We also read stories from the very beginning. Before she was even a week old, I'd lay on the bed and read to her. Again, reading books aloud gave me something to do with my baby when I didn't know what else to do. I'd never been a mother before! Obviously.
A Pinterest board of inspiration:
I've noticed that I'm still doing many of the same things. Perhaps I listen a little more than I talk nowadays, and I don't do cooking shows, although I do cook with my kids, and we even have slumber parties every now and then.
Establishing close bonds with your kids really comes down to spending lots of time with them.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Boba. The opinions and text are all mine.