So.. What’s this post about the author becomes who?? Let me explain if you wish.. I’ve started my blogging journey a year ago, and I wasn’t very sure what to talk about, the only thing I knew was I had lots of experience in Child […]
If you look around the internet about ways to bond with a baby, you’ll find many many ways. But let me tell you the truth, there’s no right way or wrong as long as you care for that baby and spend time with him or her, you’ll end up bonding together.
In Spain we have a saying, “el roce hace el cariño” (A touch creates/makes the affection), and it’s very true. When you spend time caring for a person, regardless of the age of that person, eventually you become emotionally attached. This attachment is not a bad thing, it’s actually the foundations of society, if we didn’t have some form of attachment humanity would have vanished a long time ago.
A baby develops a strong attachment with their main carer, while with a mother she was born with a bond, a stronger kind of attachment, but this bond needs to be nurtured otherwise it breaks and would create imbalance for either or both sides.
I strongly believe that not all women can be mothers, due to health problems that goes beyond their control, and it’s very sad, yet more sad is that some that gave birth shouldn’t be mothers, many and many more stories emerge of abandonment and neglect or even death to the baby.
Getting back to track, as a mother or father you might feel overwhelmed or feel lost or confused in this new part of your life, it can happen even with your second or third baby! So I hope this post will be useful to you, to remind you of what it’s important, and how much you need each other.
Post Natal Depression
I wanted to hit the hardest part first as it’s very important that if you believe you have PND, aka Post Natal Depression, that you seek help immediately.
What is PND? It’s a type of mental illness that mothers suffer after usually few days or weeks from giving birth and it can last from weeks to months, some have been depressed during pregnancy and after having the baby it worsened leading to Post Natal Depression.
Let me assure you that it’s not the mother’s fault as depression can happen to anyone, about 10 mothers from every 100 is affected from it, and it can range from mild to severe.
The mother feels detached to the baby and sometimes also to the world. They struggle to keep up with life, as they feel the following symptoms:
- tired or lethargic
- feelings of being lost
- bouts of guilt and or negativity
- Loss of appetite
- Reject towards sex or any ways of intimacy
Because of that, depending of the severity of the illness the baby can be at risk from not properly being taken care of and or neglected, in very extreme cases also abused. So please if you suffer any of the symptoms even though is minimal, talk to your doctor, your counselor, best friend or family, or anyone who you feel you can trust to. Nobody should suffer in silence, and as soon as it’s dealt with the better.
For more information there’re websites in the UK like Royal College of Psychiatrists, PND & ME which is kind of support group, NCT, and the NHS website. For other countries look on google or ask to your nearest Hospital or Health Centre.
Breastfeeding helps bonding
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that breastfeeding is not easy nor it comes “naturally” like many movies portray it, it is a learning curve for the mother mostly, as for baby if you let her take her time she’ll instinctively look for the nipple and slowly feed herself.
The reason I say it doesn’t come naturally to the mother is because we are not used to breastfeed even though we have the capability, it’s acquired as soon as we engage to it, and it takes a while to get accustomed to it, some get to it faster than others.
Saying that, once the breastfeeding is successful and NOT painful (it can be a bit uncomfortable at first, that’s why I mentioned getting used to it), both mother and baby will enjoy this special moment as breastfeeding causes the release of Oxytocin, which is a powerful happy hormone.
As it’s mentioned in the website verywellFamily.com “Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. It has many functions in the human body. It increases relaxation, lowers stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure, and causes muscle contractions. Oxytocin is also the hormone involved in social relationships, bonding, trust, and love”
Now you know why you feel very at peace and happy when looking at your baby when breastfeeding, not only is a very special place for you and baby but also it is your body resonating to it. So even though I said earlier that it doesn’t come naturally it is something natural, and I believe again that breastfeeding was meant for otherwise we would have ceased to exist long time ago.
Singing and dancing
This is something anyone can do, mother or father, partner, friend, grandparents or any family member! Or at least we can try to sing and/or dance.
Babies love movement and gentle sounds, as when they were in their mother’s uterus they were constantly exposed to the movement of her body, and the sounds coming from her organs and from people she would interact with or sounds she would encounter around her.
So for baby is more natural to have some movement and some gentle sounds than being totally static and in absolute silence. Have you even wondered why he or she would wake up if there were no more sounds or if she was put down on her cot/crib? Not only she loves feeling your warmth and smell but also it’s because she can’t feel the movement or hear your beating heart or breathing.
As the babies grow they still enjoy pretty much movement and sounds and start exploring by themselves by crawling, kicking their legs and arms, or grabbing some toys and shaking them or knocking them against something to produce sounds…
But one thing they enjoy most is to do all that together with their favourite person, listening to her or him singing or together to a song playing in the TV or radio. And even better if you start swinging gently and dancing with it together!
Doing things together
It’s very much a generic answer I know, but it’s a good way of bonding. You see, it’s as simple as when you do things that are so mundane but when you do them together with a friend or someone you hold dear, then naturally you start conversation usually, suddenly the things you were doing doesn’t feel boring anymore as the company alleviate that weight. It’s pretty much the same with a baby.
You can have your baby with you by holding him close on a swing or carrier, obviously depending if you are carrying her on the front or on your back, and her age, you won’t be able to do a lot of bending or boisterous activity with her on you.
I’ve heard people saying that babies don’t understand, that are dumb, and so on. I find it insulting, babies might not understand every word we say but can feel and can recognise feelings. They have very basic and instinctive responses yet they communicate the best way they can regardless their age. I’ve seen children that even though they were two year old and didn’t have much vocabulary would communicate in a nonverbal way so clear. I would find out later that their parents barely spoke at them, probably because they belong to the same group of people I mentioned earlier.
Even though you baby might not speak yet, hearing your voice, paying attention to her, interacting with her, spending time with her, those are very important things to strengthen the bonds between you and her. Don’t take for granted any second you spend with her even though you are doing things around, because she isn’t, she just loves being with you because she knows you care enough to be around her and giving her some attention.
There’s hardly a secret formula for bonding with your child, the interactions that are needed for bonding are pretty much the same with all people regardless their age, gender, culture, race or religion. It’s all about spending time together, respecting each other and caring for each other the best way possible, and time will do everything else.
If you are already doing all these than you don’t have to worry if the baby really loves you or if you are doing enough for her. Do your best always and one day she’ll grow to let you know personally probably when you less expect it, and then you’ll see how a great parent you are.
With light and joy,
I’ve been writing a lot about breastfeeding and about mothers and babies, but Daddies are equally helpful when taking care of the children, regardless their very different approach.
As mothers, we do our best caring of our little ones, sometimes we might become a bit like mumzillas, hoarding their attention so we do our way (thinking our ways and techniques are best, but it might not the only right approach), but some days for a reason or another we have to loosen the leash of child caring and relegate our partners, who can equally do a great job (if they want to that is).
Here’s some tips I’ve written (with help of my husband) about what they can do while on Daddy care day.
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It’s sunny, have a walk out!
If the weather is good of course, Daddy can walk baby around the park and shops, as they love the movement and seeing different things and people.
Staying at home all the time not only will remind your little one about mummy (and making them think she’s not around anymore, so they’ll start missing her), but chances are your child will become very bored playing with the same toys, and then grumpy.
Make sure you pack the essentials and some extras like:
- sun cream of SPF 35+
- a hat for baby (and maybe for daddy too?)
- an extra bib
- dry wipes or towelettes
- baby’s drink (a full bottle just in case she becomes very thirsty)
- some snacks for both
- Rain/wind cover for pram (in Ireland I’ve learned that the weather can change dramatically) just in case.
- Mobile Phone. Some Dads don’t bring their phones with them but it’s important when going with baby in case you need to make an emergency call.
- Some money (yes, some people go out without money because they were just going for a walk…)
Soft Play Centres
Sometimes we get very bad weather, and if it’s not extremely bad we can still go out, Daddy can drive or walk short distances to an Indoor Play Soft Area, which is a place where there’s lots of physical activities similar to a playground, but the whole place (or most of it) is padded for the safety of the child.
There’re slides, mats with games on it, tunnels, fun corridors with bouncy toys, mirrors, etc. And although there’s staff supervising the area do not leave your child unattended in it. Normally there’s a Bar service on site with chairs and tables so parents can have something to drink and eat while keeping an eye on their children.
There’s usually a small area for under three’s which is enclosed and only babies with their carers can go in it, although some older siblings join to play with their baby brother or sister. If you bring older children in the infants and toddlers area please make them aware that there’re younger children and they need to be careful and gentle not only with their siblings but with the other babies.
A word of advice is some areas of some Soft Play Centres are a bit hidden/not visible, make sure you can see your child/children at all times, as sometimes it gets a bit busy on school holidays or bank holidays. Many times I’ve seen some children crashing into one another, on the floor crying, and their parents failing to see them because they were seating and chatting away on a corner where they couldn’t see them at all. Also, please let them know that although they get excited to not to push, scream, or get too rowdy, as there’re other children there and want to have fun too.
Bonding while learning
I’ve grown up with great memories of my parents and aunties taking me to trips to a museum. If you have easy access to one go for it!
Daddy can teach lots of things to younger ones in museums, for instance my Dad loves science so he would bring us to the Science Museum CosmoCaixa in Barcelona (city where I grew up), it still runs today and pretty much visited as it’s a highly recommended on the Tripadvisor website.
In London there’re many museums and some are as big that you would need two or three days to see all what it offers. The National History Museum for instance is amazing, it’s also very big and full of curiosities and things to see and learn. I’ve been there twice with my husband but we haven’t been there with our baby so it’s something that’s gonna happen sooner rather than later.
Two years ago I went to Edinburgh for the summer, and I fell in love with the City and its surrounding scenery and towns. The Castle is amazing and you can visit inside its buildings and rooms, learning the history of Scotland from the very beginning to what is today. We stayed in Pebbles which is a very beautiful town not so far from Edinburgh, I recommend it if you want to stay somewhere not too far from the capital city but want a more quiet area to spend some time in nature with your family, but still be accessible to many shops and amenities around.
If you happen to be in Dublin, Ireland, there’s an enchanting place in the south where you can go and spend the day with family. Powerscourt Gardens are in Enniskerry, County Wicklow, but you can get a bus from Dublin City Centre (bus 44 or 185). It’s a big Estate with amazing gardens with a small lake, a pagoda, a tower, there’s even a waterfall (but it’s not within the garden area, you’ll have to walk quite a while to get there from the gardens) and they have an amazing Avoca Terrace Cafe. Powerscourt also runs year-round events like treasure hunts, guided walks, gardening workshops, bug hunts & theater evenings. So plenty to do for Daddy and children!
Sticky and colourful fingers
We all know how arts and crafts are good to promote creativity, instill curiosity and encourage problem solving for children. It’s also a good way to socialise, to see other peoples creations and motivate to do more, to create something better.
I believe it’s a good way also for Daddies to have fun with their children, as in Arts and Crafts there’s no wrong or right and everything you want to do goes, it’s a good opportunity for grown-ups to be silly and childish together with their children. Loosening up a bit now and then is beneficial for the soul, it eases stress and worries, leaving more room for clarity and inner peace.
Of course not all activities are good for all ages, as children as little as one year old won’t be capable to, let say, build a fort with a card box (but if Daddy is happy to do that, willing to do most of the job then go ahead), so here I recommend some Arts and crafts you can do based on age of the child:
- Younger than 1 year old
Splatting paint with hands and feet on a big white sheet of paper or an old bed sheet.
On a Plasticine block poking straw, colourful sticks or twigs, etc (any hard material will do)
- 1-2 year old
On a big sheet of paper painting and sticking different textures on it like cotton for clouds, dry leaves for grass, thin tree bark for the trees, colourful paper tissues for flowers and butterflies, etc
Musical instruments with empty bottles filled (a quarter of the bottle) with different materials to recreate different noises like stones, buttons, dry pasta, sand, etc
- 2-4 year old
Build a house or fort with a big box, make a flag with paper and a stick, paint the box to recreate walls, cut a door that can open and shut, etc..
Or if you don’t have a big box use bed sheets, move around chairs and use imagination to create one hideaway under the table or behind the couch etc…
Make a beautiful card for Mummy telling her how much you love her (put it in a box with a couple of her favourite treats in it) and hide it, then make a treasure map that will lead to it, and give it to her when she gets back home.
The possibilities are endless
As the title says, it’s all up to you how much you want to do with your child, how confident you are doing one thing or another, after all he/she is your child, and you as parents know best what works for you and your family. Just one thing: what matters most is that you are having fun together in a safe and happy manner.
Joy and light,
Breastfeeding comes with its multiple advantages, and some disadvantages, some latter are pains. In this post I’ll tell you all about some ugly side of my journey, about breast pain when breastfeeding. I hope it won’t deter you from giving your own milk to your […]
Since the beginning, my baby boy has always looked thin. I used to imagine he would look like those cute plumpy babies from the magazines, but no, he was scrawny from the beginning. Midwives told us that is normal that newborn babies lose weight right after they are born and would not get back their birth weight until past a week or two. Well, Bee weighted twice his birth weight by 10 days, and no matter how much I fed him he still looked thin so made me wonder how much to feed baby? Definitely he was getting fed but, was it enough? I had to ask around, I went to read many magazines and looking through websites. These are the things that struck me most, I hope they’ll be helpful for you too!
Breastfeeding babies won’t overfeed
Babies that have breastfeeding milk will never be overfed. We might not be able to tell how much milk they are having, we’ll only be able to know how long they have been drinking though, but as long as we can feel they are sucking we’ll know they are having milk. If they can’t suck any more milk from one breast, they might cry for more milk so we can switch breast. They’ll have as much as they want or need, once they feel full or had enough then they’ll stop feeding, therefore as they choose, they won’t drink to the point of making themselves ill, babies aren’t this greedy with food yet, they are led by needs.
Feeding on demand
Babies that are so young (less than 6 months I would say) should be fed on demand, by sticking to a routine very early in their lives not only can be stressful for both of you but also could be counterproductive, even damaging, for the baby!
Babies need to feed as much as they need, we are not to dictate when or how often, they are normally better than us to know when they are hungry! Their stomachs are so little and are more sensitive, so gentle and gradual feeding routine should be introduced safely, that means when they are little much older from 6 months, but that depends on each child.
They are not like an adult that can handle many hours without eating, they are growing and developing internally at great pace and therefore they need a lot of nutrients, but can’t handle so much in one go, so little but often is ideal. It might clash a bit with your routine but remember, the first months you have to adjust your life around baby, not the way around!
Babies can still need feeding milk at nighttime even when they are one year old, forget about this age she’s supposed to sleep through the night! You as an adult, sometimes wake up in the middle of the night to drink some water, right? Should you refrain on doing so because you are an adult and should be sleeping through the night? Now, if your baby is one year old and is waking up every hour to feed then there’s something going on, it’s not normal! It could be that either is really hungry because haven’t had much to eat for dinner, or she’s just comfort-feeding (in the case of breastfeeding) or something else. Talk to your GP or Health visitor, they’ll be able to help you out with it.
Weaning when they are ready
You might be so impatient to feed solids to your child, and there’s so many baby foods out there that claim that are safe to give from 4 months. There’s even people that say that they fed their children at that age or even some earlier! And I’m here to tell you: don’t rush things. Your child again should dictate what she or he wants, and when.
Also, children are curious, they explore everything with their hands and mouth. Putting things in their mouths not necessarily mean they want to eat it but to know what are they, it’s a form of exploring. After all, the first thing they’ve learned even before holding something with their hand, was to taste it their mouth. As a fetus, in the amniotic sac, the liquid would go into their mouths, and they would feel it. The first thing after they are born is to suck from their mum’s breast..
Remember that your baby has just born, their little stomach is so delicate and small, it needs to develop into a stronger and bigger one, slowly. Each child is different, grows different, and each parent makes different decisions that will lead to different outcomes.
Saying that, if for any reason you let to be pushed into act differently to how you feel it should be done, if something goes wrong, you are the ultimate responsible for letting it happen. In parenting there’s not always a clear right or wrong, but you shouldn’t carry the burden of guilt from following the wrong advice. If you are not sure about something, gather different opinions from people with knowledge Pediatrics like your GP, health visitors, and midwives, and weight each advice so you can come up with a conclusion that you think it’s best.
My mum kept telling me that my brothers ate solids from a young age, like the youngest did from 3 months old, that he ate this and that. My youngest brother now is a healthy and handsome young lad in his early twenties. My mum followed what she thought it was best for her child and he was fine with it, mine might not be. I started weaning Bee at 5 months and a half, I gave him cereals with both formula milk and expressed breast milk, following the advice that it was good for him.
He went constipated for several days and passed hard rock poos that he agonised doing. It was so bad he got scared of pooing. I gave him concentrated orange juice, barely diluted, also barely worked. I also did some tummy massage and “cycling” his legs. Then I decided to stop giving him cereals and solely breastfeed him, in few days he pooed normal again, but he would still be scared of passing stools.
I waited until he was 6 months to try again, this time with pear and apple puree, it went well until I tried to put cereals in it, then again constipation came. I introduced prune juices and prune puree and it helped gradually, also gave him some probiotic baby friendly bacteria (mixed in his foods) that seems to have helped too. But what really helped and was a game changer was when he started crawling. The exercise of moving his legs that way, making squatting movements, I believe it helped his bowel rhythms.
Now he eats almost everything and sometimes does a bit hard poos, but he doesn’t go constipated for lengthy times as before, and his phobia to poo has also gone thank goodness!
Summing it up
So this are my two cents of baby feeding, I followed how my baby felt, and it wasn’t easy, I wasn’t 100% sure of what I was doing but in the end it went well. So please, listen to your child, observe how she or he goes, but also very important, listen to yourself, what is your instinct/gut telling you?
With light and joy,