It’s no secret that newborns sleep a lot. And when they’re not sleeping, they’re usually eating or it’s time for a diaper change. That means the times we as parents have with them while they’re awake, AKA ‘wake windows,’ offer great bonding opportunities between babies and their caregivers.
What may not be as obvious is the significant effects that bonding with their caregiver has on babies. Fostering a safe and healthy attachment allows babies to grow into adults who enter into healthy relationships and are less likely to experience mental health concerns. The best part? Bonding with baby can be enjoyable for both them and their caregivers.
While playing with older kids may come more naturally as they can speak about what they want to do and openly use their imagination, there are plenty of creative ways to bond with our newborns as well. The next time we find ourselves in a wake window and remember it’s a perfect bonding opportunity, refer back to this list of five of our favorite ways to bond with baby.
1. Use High Contrast Flash Cards
Newborns are experiencing so much at any given moment—new sights, new sounds, and new ways of development going on at all times. It’s our job as parents to do as much as we can to help them develop in productive ways physically, mentally, and emotionally. The use of high contrast flash cards can be a great way to do just that as they help develop concentration, focus, and the eye muscles. These visually stimulating cards will capture baby’s interest and easily keep them entertained during wake windows.
2. ‘Baby Bootcamp’
The first months of life are filled with several milestones as babies will be in the beginning stages of developing their motor skills. As parents, we can help with this development by helping our babies move and stretch in new ways—’baby bootcamp,’ if you will. Lay baby on their back and practice bicycle kicks with their legs, guide them through the ‘happy baby’ yoga pose, or head to TikTok or YouTube university where you can find videos from licensed therapists and pediatric chiropractors to follow along with.
3. Sing to Baby
While it’s true, we can’t all be Taylor Swift, we’re all rockstars in our babies’ eyes. Take the time during wake windows to bond with baby by singing to them. Outside of the shower, this is the perfect time to raise our voices as baby will love to hear a voice they recognize and singing is sure to put a smile on their face. Choose from educational songs like the “ABC’s,” or simply have fun with it and choose whatever sparks joy for baby (think Rachel and Ross singing “Baby Got Back” to Emma on Friends).
4. ‘Wear’ Them While Doing Tasks
Another great way to bond with baby is by wearing them on our chest while we complete our daily tasks or go for a walk. Not only will bonding occur by having them physically close to us, it will also likely be very soothing for babies as the movement will replicate being in the womb. To take it a step farther, we can narrate our actions, making this a great opportunity to build language development and introduce vocabulary.
5. Make Tummy Time Even Better
We’ve heard it before and we’ll hear it again—tummy time is important for baby’s development. ‘Tummy time‘ involves laying babies on their stomach while they’re awake for brief periods of time, which helps strengthen neck and shoulder muscles. Tummy time can be a great bonding experience in a number of ways. While we supervise, we can narrate what they’re doing and talk them through the experiences. We can even get on the floor and use a mirror to play with them during tummy time so they can explore their reflection.
If your baby hates tummy time, try having them do tummy time on your chest—this will be very soothing for babies, and if they happen to fall asleep on us, well, then it’s snuggle time.