This post is sponsored by Dreft. Thank you for supporting the brands that support me!
I’d like to think that I’ve been pretty open about my mental health struggles. Especially in my postpartum with J. Having a rainbow baby brings out so many emotions, and a lot of them are hard to navigate. You have this perfect, beautiful, healthy baby. This is everything you’ve been dreaming of. And yet, something just feels “off” and disconnected.
It definitely took me a while. Longer than I wish it would have. But finally the connection and the bond felt real. Like I wasn’t so guarded and I finally let myself enjoy and connect with him. I remember feeling so ashamed because I didn’t have that immediate bond. With my first, the second he was on my chest it was there. That invisible, but palpable feeling. With J… I waited and waited and waited.
And I’m not alone. So many parents out there, mothers and fathers alike, struggle to bond with their babies. I have been there, I know how much it can hurt. I know how it can contribute even further to postpartum anxiety and depression. So I thought I’d share a few of the ways (and products) that helped me bond with my baby.
8 tips and tricks to help you bond with your baby:
I don’t know where I’d be without baby wearing. There are so many benefits to baby wearing, I’d need an entire other post to get into it. Safe to say, baby wearing with J wasn’t just beneficial. It was necessary. I already had one super active 3 year old who’s a mamas boy, and when J was born, we went through a HUGE transition.
Baby wearing allowed me to keep J close at all times, while also tending to my oldest. Because of baby wearing, I was able to implement many of the following ways to bond with baby all at once. Baby was kept close to me, it even allowed for skin to skin, I could breastfeed easily, and we could snuggle. And I didn’t even have to think twice about it. Because he was just there. No thinking required, but the more I held him, the more I felt his heartbeat and he mine, the more I felt like I was bonding with my rainbow baby.
2. Use the power of smell.
Scent is a powerful thing. Think about it – so many of our memories are tied to smell, the good and the bad. To this day, the smell of a state fair instantly brings a smile to my face. Scents and fragrances have a direct impact on the nervous system, so why not harness that to benefit you and baby? By using Dreft baby detergent, I am making a connection every time I start the wash.
You know that distinct newborn smell? The one that you cant get enough of? The reason that you keep bending your head down to sniff the top of your baby’s head? Dreft’s iconic scent has been formulated to resemble the indiscernible smell of babyhood. That sweet iconic baby scent, bottled. So not only are yours and baby’s clothes getting a better clean, the hypoallergenic Dreft is safe for even the most sensitive of skin.
Why we love Dreft detergent:
There’s a reason why Dreft has stuck around. For over 80 years, Dreft has been providing families with a detergent specially formulated for baby’s skin. In fact, Dreft is the #1 Dermatologist Recommended for baby clothes and the #1 pediatrician-recommended baby detergent!
I am and have been a proud user of Dreft with my boys. And specifically love their newest formula, Dreft purtouch which is 65% plant-based and made with naturally derived ingredients. I also appreciate that Dreft effectively keeps clothes clean while being gentle on baby’s skin.
Check out the image above! This just goes to prove the power that scent holds. A recent survey found that 80% (8:10) parents feel that using Dreft can make them feel more bonded with their baby. And when they are apart, 87% of parents agree that the Dreft scent helps them feel more connected and closer to their little one. Isn’t that what we all want as parents?
In fact, I also used the power of smell to help with the small amount of gentle sleep training we have done. Since the boys were little, I would lay a shirt I had been wearing all day down in their beds. And I lay the boys on top of that. By doing this, I am surrounding baby with something they’re familiar with: ME. It’s such a simple little trick, but it’s proven effective time and time again!
3. Utilize skin-to-skin.
As referenced earlier, skin-to-skin is another helpful way to bond with your baby. Obviously, this is more geared towards the newborn stage. But you’d be surprised how helpful skin to skin can be with older kiddos too! With J, even now at 1.5 years old, when he’s getting really worked up or feeling sick, I strip down to my bra and lay him on my chest. It never fails to help him calm down and relax.
Skin to skin is beneficial for so much, including bonding with baby. Touch plays such an important role for all of us. And by implementing skin to skin, or “kangaroo hold”, you’re helping to employ every sense in nurturing this new relationship with your baby.
4. Read together.
The benefits of reading to children has been widely documented. I mean, we know it helps them. Reading to your baby is so important. It helps with their vocabulary, helps teach empathy, encourages their imagination. and so much more. I know that reading with your kids can feel so redundant. And honestly, kind of boring sometimes. Especially after they keep handing you the same book, over and over again for the 300th time that afternoon!
However, reading aloud to your baby is also an incredible way to foster a bond. There is so much rush in our everyday, especially now with H in school a few days a week. It feels like there’s so much I miss out on, or that I’m unintentionally skipping over. But when we sit together, just the two or three of us, it’s pretty special. No electronics, no phones distracting me. Just us and some books, them piled into my lap and snuggled up together. We read and reread page after page and I just soak it all in. I have a feeling these will be some of my very favorite memories to reflect on, later down the road.
5. Try to have one-on-one time together.
This is something that I still struggle with, but its too important to look over. Having one-on-one time with my husband is crucial for our relationship, so why wouldn’t the same apply to the relationship with my children? Spending time, just with mama, can look like anything. Sometimes, it’s when my husband takes my youngest with him to the store and H and I are left alone for an hour or so.
We might head outside and play with his dinosaurs, we might perform a science experiment, heck – we might even go see a movie, just the two of us. But one on one time with my kids doesn’t have to be a big ordeal. It also might look like just taking a moment to read together, taking a bath, going on a walk. There’s no need for quality time to require money or planning!
The more time I intentionally spend with my children, even when a newborn, the better it feels like my bond with baby gets.
6. Talk to baby.
My husband used to make fun of me for how much I talk to baby. But shoot, even when my kids were tiny little raspberries, peaches, sweet potatoes and watermelons in my womb, I spoke to them everyday. I would tell them what I was doing that day, I would tell them things I was feeling and hoping for them. I would hold my belly at night and whisper wishes of sweet dreams and tell them how much I loved them.
Talking to your children is just one way to help forge a connection. But it doesn’t start and stop in the womb. The more you talk with your baby as he or she grows, the better. Hearing your voice will help baby recognize and respond to your voice and touch!
7. Hold baby.
I talked about this with the skin-to-skin, but holding baby close is one of the best things you can do. For you, and for baby. When you’re holding baby, you’re getting the chance to learn more about their behaviors. Because you’re close, both in a physical and metaphorical way, you’re able to distinguish between their cues – what cry means hungry, signs of tiredness, and more.
By holding and cuddling and kissing your baby, you’re helping to improve communication between the two of you. As a byproduct, you’re also hoping to foster a sense of trust and confidence for you and baby. Especially during the 4th trimester! You’re helping baby transition from the womb and learning together.
Think about it – how good does it feel to have someone give you a nice, warm hug? And I’m not talking about those half arm hugs. I’m talking going full in, wrapping your arms around someone you love. Your bodies settling in. In that moment, you feel safe and warm and protected. You are manifesting that with a physical bond. And touch is incredibly powerful as well.
8. Turn on music, dance together.
It may sound silly, but there’s something about turning on music and dancing with baby that is the best. And it’s not just fun and games either! Listening to music and dancing together isn’t just great for their cognitive and motor development. It’s a dynamic way to facilitate the bond between myself and baby! Plus, it’s a lot of fun too.
I remember several times, like after shots, when H or J would just be miserable. I’d turn on something upbeat, like Bruno Mars, and bring baby to my chest while cradling their uncomfortable body. Dancing and bouncing around, we’d sway to the beat, and it never failed to help calm baby. Again, it may seem like I’m just dancing. When in all reality, dancing is another way to create a safe and trustworthy experience for baby and I. Plus, music has been shown to activate portions of the limbic system and frontal lobe that deal with processing and emotional regulation. All this to say, dancing with baby helps us destress and continues to strengthen our bond!
Bonding with baby
Remember – not all parents feel that instant connection with their baby. Bonding with J was really difficult for me. I was dealing with a lot of PPD and PPA and some messy feelings due to my/our struggles with infertility. And I was in such a fog that it was hard for me to do much of anything.
For some of us, it takes a little longer than others. But just because you don’t feel that bond the second your baby is born doesn’t mean you won’t. And it also doesn’t mean you’re a bad mom/dad/parent. I promise. Try out these 8 simple ways that helped me bond with my baby. I’m hopeful it will help someone else who’s struggling out there. Even if it takes longer than you were hoping, just be intentional and try. Hopefully these bonding tips will help develop and foster your bond with baby!