Some may think that bonding with their baby is just a natural thing that happens, but for some they need to work at it. In the first 12 months, infants are developing that special relationship or bond with you (attachment) So it is important to know why and how to support this as much as possible.
So how do you do this and communicate with a baby that may be only be weeks old? Some parents say that there doesn’t seem to be a lot they can do at this stage . Did you know that 90% of the way we communicate is through body language? e.g eye contact, facial expression, touch, affection etc.
When talking to families about communication I often ask… “What do we want for your baby when they are older?” I generally get a perplexed look and if I could read their minds, I am sure they would be thinking “why would she be asking me this now?”. We want our babies to learn, feel responded to and cared for so that we can support and enhance their emotional development. Why? So that they are able to form trusting relationships for when they move into adulthood and know that world is a safe place to explore. So how and when do we start…Now!
Even though your baby may not be able to talk yet they can tell you want they need or want through ‘Cues’, these cues also helps you as parents or caregivers to understand and respond more sensitively to your baby/child’s feelings, wants and needs. Reading your baby cues will tell you when they are wanting to be with you and interact and when they may need a break.
There are in fact many ways that you can interact and ‘read’ your baby even from the day they are born, responsiveness and opportunity are always a good place to start
Here are some things that you may like to try-
Floor play! Take their nappy off and allow their bottoms to air, allow them to explore, look around , look at objects, colored toys and try to focus. Try getting down on the floor to their level, look out of a window when its raining and watch the rain fall on the glass and give some opportunity for some tummy time.
Eye contact! Give your baby opportunity to look at your your face, try poking your tongue out or pursing your lips, watch and wait and notice what you might see in their reaction. Eye contact is also important as it can help increase bonding by showing your baby that you are present and ready to respond.
Voice! Talk and allow them to hear your voice, different tones of voice can be heard through reading books singing and listening to music. Try to use repetitive words as babies learn by repetition.
Response!Try to make sure that your responses are consistent so that you give them clear messages and be careful not to confuse them.
Touch! This is important as it not only feels good but expresses love, affection and reassurance and lets children know that they are important and valued.
Play- get down on the floor so that you are on their level. Interact with them and their toys, allow for some ‘nappy free’ and ‘tummy time’ and at times stand back and just watch your baby this is when you will notice cues i.e engagement/disengagement and tired cues.
By spending time together you will get to know your baby more and notice more what is happening for them in their world.
For further information see Tip sheet on Communication/Cues or Play.