Bonding with the baby
The concept of bonding is also known as attachment parenting or attachment theory. This concept came into picture in the early 1950s and was proposed by a British psychologist John Bowlby and was further strengthened and popularized by Dr. William Sears and his wife Martha Sears.
Bonding or attachment is an important aspect for a strong and loving relationship between parents and the child. It is a necessity for healthy upbringing of a child and is required right from the very moment the baby is born.
Maternal deprivation and lack of sensitivity in parents has been observed and studied, and many such studies clarified its negative effects on children. Experiments conducted on primates by Harry Harlow in the 1950s had shown that young primates deprived of maternal care right from birth were not able to exhibit normal social behavior and relationships with other primates, found difficulty in copulation and were insensitive to their own offspring.
These observations brought forth the importance of bonding between the caregiver and the child. By bonding it does not necessarily mean the bonding between just the mother and the child, but can be between the child and his/her other adult caregivers also (father, grandparents, step-parents etc).
How to Bond with your newborn?
Your newborn needs to be cuddled, fed and cleaned. Cuddling makes her feel secure and loved, which in turn makes her more comfortable and relaxed. Breastfeeding increases the closeness between you and your baby, as you are holding her close while feeding and your warmth makes the baby feel extremely secure and comfortable. This promotes a positive, loving feeling in the child and is known to be health promoting. Bottle feeding the baby while holding her in your arms, just like breastfeeding, also has similar effects.
Keeping the baby close to you as much as possible and attending to the baby as soon as she cries, or seems uncomfortable also makes her feel loved and attached to the caregiver. It is not recommended to let the baby cry for too long, and not attending her in time creates a feeling of insecurity in the baby.
Carrying the baby in your arms most of the time instead of keeping her in a bassinet or a stroller is also suggested in attachment theory. Co-sleeping also helps the baby get your warmth while sleeping and is known to promote the baby’s health. But some parents feel the fear of smothering the delicate newborn while asleep. This point can be discussed with the pediatrician.
Some mothers may not feel the love for their newborn as they were expecting it to be during pregnancy. That is normal and once the mother starts practicing to bond with the baby, the emotions will begin appearing very soon. Moms who are under postpartum depression may feel difficult to bond with their baby, but it can be easily cured by psychotherapy and family support.
Effects of bonding/attachment on the child
Parents who show a lot of care, sensitivity, empathy and love for the child along with promoting a positive environment at home are known to have more confident, considerate and disciplined children. Such children are known to have lasting and cordial relationships with friends and family with successful and fulfilling lives. Their approach towards challenges is more positive and they have good concentration at work. They are known to have a better overall mental and physical health.
- Wikipedia / John Bowlby
- Encyclopedia of Motherhood | Andrea O’Reilly, General Editor