The Webster dictionary defines BONDING as the formation of a close relationship (as between a mother and child or between a person and an animal) especially through frequent or constant association.
Many of us have observed parents developing a bond with their babies and have come to see that bonding is what makes parents want to shower their baby with love and affection and to protect and nourish their little one.
Although there is still much to learn about bonding, we do know that the strong ties between parents and their child provide the baby’s first model for intimate relationships and foster a sense of security and positive self-esteem. I recall a study from my undergraduate psychology courses about newborn monkeys who were given mannequin mothers at birth. The study demonstrated that even when the mannequins were made of soft material and provided formula to the baby monkeys, the babies were better socialized when they had live mothers to interact with. The baby monkeys with mannequin mothers also were more likely to suffer from despair. It’s suspected that lack of bonding in human babies can cause similar problems.
If you are a new parent, it may take time to understand all the ways you can communicate and interact with your baby. Touch is one of your baby’s first languages as babies respond to skin-to-skin contact. This is soothing for both you and your baby and studies have suggested it promotes your baby’s healthy growth and development. Making that attachment and bonding through touch is probably one of the most pleasurable aspects of infant care. You can begin by cradling your baby and gently stroking him or her in different patterns. If you and your partner both hold and touch your infant frequently, your little one will soon learn the difference between the different touches.
Babies, especially premature babies and those with medical problems may respond to infant massage. Because babies are not as strong as adults, you’ll need to use gentle techniques. Before trying out infant massage, be sure to educate yourself on proper techniques by checking out the many books, videos, and websites on the subject. You may also check the local wellness clinics to find out if there are classes in infant massage in your area.
By using infant massage, a parent grasps the art of listening, asking permission, communicating, interpreting and responding to cues. This will allow you to understand your baby’s different cries whether they are due to gas, wanting to be held, hunger etc. Your baby will not only benefit from the act of bonding and enhanced communication but they will receive physiological benefits as well. Infant massage can improve Healthy Body awareness, improve relaxation, stimulate circulation, reduce discomfort from teething, congestions, gas, colic along with improve sleep patterns. And as an added bonus, daddy can perform infant massage too!