Ahhh the first few days, weeks and months with your new bubba are a pretty magical time. Exhausting? Absolutely but there is nothing quite like seeing one of those first gummy grins after a sleepless night. After settling into your new #mumlife, you might be wondering exactly what you DO with your bubba (in between feeds, sleeps and nappy changes that is!) to kick off the bonding process!
We’ve got you covered with some suggestions for the littlest newborns through to even the most boisterous of toddlers.
Bonding with your newborn
While a huge proportion of your day is going to be feeding and sleeping, there is plenty of ways you can start bonding with your little one. Bearing in mind that the awake window is only around 1 to 1.5 hours and that your newborn is, well a newborn, it can be a good idea to focus on homebased, skin to skin type activities that are both bonding AND soothing for your bub.
Regardless of whether you are breast or bottle feeding, feeding time is the perfect chance to snuggle up and spend some time skin-to-skin. Skin-to-skin has a whole host of benefits for both you and bub, including regulation of their hear rate and temperature and the release of happy hormones for you both. Many new mamas will find breastfeeding a lot easier when they’re topless and don’t need to worry about a bra getting in the way! Choosing one feed during the day to just focus on bonding, free from your phone or any other distractions can be a wonderful way to start or end your day with bub.
Baby-wearing can also be both a bonding activity and lifesaver with little bubbas, especially during witching hour! I often used to babywear topless when my kids were tiny to reap the benefits of both activities!
Bonding with your slightly older bubba
While your brand new newborn could absolutely enjoy the following activities, a slightly older bub, from around 4-6 weeks is going to be a little more alert and have a slightly longer awake window which makes these activities a little easier.
A shared bath or shower time can be a beautiful way to bond with your baby while also getting you both clean! While taking your bub into the water with you can seem a little daunting at first, the benefits are absolutely worth it. The majority of babies find water extremely soothing and it is not uncommon for them to fall asleep while lying on you in the bath or under the shower. If you’ve got an extra pair of hands at home, get them to help you to get in and comfortable before handing over bubba.
If you want to stay dry, a bath and baby massage combo is another great way to spend time with bub while also creating a soothing (and hopefully sleep friendly) environment. Many parents will find that combining tummy time with baby massage kills two birds with one stone and helps your little one to relax in preparation for bedtime. Just be aware that baths/shower can be super exhausting for young babies and, depending on time of day, lighting levels and the general atmosphere of the rest of the house, over-stimulating. Try and keep the bathroom quiet and dimly lit if possible and keep an eye on how long you/they have been in the water.
Bonding with your 6 month old +
Six months is a fantastic age as your little one starts to show more of their personality. Integrating simple games into your day, signing and mirror play are not only entertaining but also bonding. By 6 months, you will generally be fairly attuned to your bubs cues and able to structure your day around their more regular sleep and feeding cycles and longer awake windows.
Getting outside in nature for a walk, playgroup or Mother’s Group or just exploring your world close to home are all fantastic ways to spend time with your baby while also providing plenty of interaction and stimulation. Babies from 6 months onwards are developing their curiosity for the world around them and will enjoy new experiences while also gaining reassurance from the closeness they have with their parents. Baby wearing while enjoying new experiences is a great way to (literally) keep your little one close while being able to explore hands free. It also means you can provide plenty of cuddles should over-stimulation strike.
Toddlers and beyond
Older babies and toddlers are all about learning and exploring the world around them. A secure bond with their parents gives little ones of this age the confidence to take on new challenges. Playground, library time and activities like swimming lessons are all great ways to both bond with and entertain your older bub or toddler. Books become a bigger focus around this age as your little one is able to recognise and engage with the pictures and listen to your read to them.
Building a predictable and soothing bedtime routine can also give you the chance to include bonding activities bath or shower time, reading or singing together, before sleep bottle or boob and cuddles.
Getting to know your little one, whatever age they are, is one of the best parts of parenthood. Enjoy the different experiences as they come without putting pressure on yourself to make things perfect or do what ‘all the other mums are doing.’ As you find your feet as a parent, you will naturally find things that you enjoy doing with your bub and the best bonding activities that suit you both.