As you move forward with the adoption process and begin to envision your first days at home with your child, you may be considering how to start bonding with your child. Traditional families are able to begin bonding with their child before it is even born, so many adoptive families feel at a disadvantage. However, there are several things you can do to help develop a bond with the child you adopt, helping both you and the child establish yourselves as a new family.
Skin to Skin
The importance of skin to skin contact has been emphasized by doctors in recent years, and it’s not just important in the moments after birth. Infants learn how you feel and smell through skin to skin contact, and learn to associate your scent with comfort and safety. Consider practicing skin to skin contact while feeding your child, and try to find a babywearing device that is comfortable for both you and your child. These devices let you keep your child close, getting them used to being comfortable with you, while also freeing up your hands for making bottles and other tasks around the house.
Babies are constantly watching the world around them, including your face. However, newborns can only see eight to fifteen inches from their face, so when they are small it is important to try to accommodate that whenever possible. Meal times are great for this; hold your child close and maintain eye contact while giving them a bottle. They like looking at you as much as you adore gazing at them, so why not indulge?
Infants are utterly helpless when it comes to meeting most of their own needs, so it is important for them to learn that they are able to trust that you will always be there for them. While “cry it out” may have been a popular parenting tactic in the past, modern research shows that instead, parents should respond to their child’s cries quickly. This helps the child learn to trust their parents, and can allow you a little more wiggle room on response times as they grow older, because they know you’ll come as soon as you’re able.
Use Your Voice
Humans are rather vocal creatures, so you can take advantage of that when it comes to creating a bond with your newborn. While they may have spent a few months hearing their birthmother’s voice, they’ll be hearing yours for the rest of their lives. Start talking to your child early, even if it’s just narrating what you’re doing or talking to them about your day. While they may not understand what you’re saying, you’re getting them used to the sound of your voice, cheering them with pleasant tones, and giving them a head start as their brains start parsing what language is. Reading books to them is also a great way to do this.
It may seem a bit early to start thinking about playing when your child is a newborn, but it’s never too soon! At this age, play will mostly consist of tummy time, which is important for physical development and can be a great time to get in the habit of playing with your child. Play is how children learn about the world and grow, so getting involved with that early can help solidify your bond.