It may seem odd to think about developing a relationship with your infant. In fact, it isn’t unusual for it to take a little while for a parent to “bond” with their infant at birth (and to be even more clear, it’s the PARENT bonding at birth, the baby isn’t really “bonding” to you yet). In the first month or so, you may be especially frazzled dealing with your new role.
But then, your baby smiles at you. A real smile, not one from passing something that cues you into their needing a diaper change. Your baby looks into you eyes and smiles like the recognize you. Because they do!
That is your relationship budding. All the work you’ve been putting in the last couple months (because type of smile starts around 6-12 weeks of age) is paying off.
Zero to Three offers these tips for forming a strong relationship with your infant (more information is at the website).
- Allow for some unstructured, uninterrupted time with your child each day. When your child is first born, this may just be when you are feeding them, but also talking and playing with them as they get older. Ignore your phone, television, and chores for just a little while and enjoy this time with your child.
- Let your child know you’re interested in her activities. Remember, something normal and possibly even boring to you is new and exciting for your infant. Try to share their sense of wonder and excitement!
- Encourage children to express their feelings in an age-appropriate way. Helping children identify emotions in themselves and others is an important aspect of relationships. Labeling your own emotions and showing positive ways to cope with them will teach them.
- Respect and recognize your child’s feelings. When your child expresses their feelings, don’t minimize them or make fun of them. What seems small or silly to you won’t be to them.
- Play games that explore feelings. Play is very important for children to work through different emotions and situations. As children get older, it can act as a “dress rehearsal” for big events that they could use a little preparation for.
- Provide opportunities for your child to develop relationships with peers. While this may not be too important most of the first year of life, you might start having play dates toward the end of the first year. It’s good for you and your child to get some contact with peers!
- Limit TV and other “screen time”. While TV is fun, it doesn’t offer a lot for young children, especially not on its own. When they do watch TV, talk to them about what they are seeing and learning.