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It can take time for a deep and mutual attachment to develop between you and your newborn. Find out how to grow those early feelings of love and devotion into a lifelong bond with your child.
Know your baby's cues
Your baby has his own individual way of communicating his wants and needs. By watching his body language and listening to his cries, you'll soon learn to read his signals.
Rooting and sucking are usually signs that your baby's hungry or would like something to suck on for comfort. Crying, on the other hand, can mean many things. Stay calm and take time to listen. You'll soon find that your baby has different cries depending on whether he's hungry, tired, bored, or just needs a diaper change.
For more help, see 12 reasons babies cry and how to soothe them.
Gain your baby's trust
Your newborn's vulnerability means she needs your love and support. In fact, she depends on it.
By responding to your baby's cues with love and making her feel safe, you gain her trust. Your baby comes to know that her needs will be met and that she's in safe hands. She feels a deep sense of security that helps her develop and cope with her changing environment.
It's a myth that you can spoil your baby or cause him to be clingy by regularly holding or carrying him. Consistently responding to your baby with love and attention lets him know that he matters to you and that he can depend on you.
Talk to your baby when you lift, comfort, or feed him, or change his diaper. Tell him what you think he might be feeling and reassure him that you will help. Long before he can understand the words, he'll find comfort in your voice.
Interact with your baby
Studies have shown that children who receive consistent, warm, positive attention are likely to have lifelong advantages in physical, mental, social, and emotional health over those who didn't. So engage with your baby through touch, physical comfort, laughter, and play – and don't worry about holding her too much.
Need creative ideas for playtime? Find fun, silly, development-boosting games to play with your baby at every stage, from birth to 12 months.
Take care of yourself
Your baby may now be your whole world, but you're important too. In fact, you can't take the best possible care of your child if you're not doing the same for yourself. Your emotional well-being affects your ability to bond with your baby and be a loving parent. Giving yourself a break enables you to give more to your baby.
Easier said than done – we know. But don't feel guilty when you take time to nurture yourself. Even just a half-hour soak in the tub can do wonders to lift your spirits! And if you feel depressed, exhausted, or anxious, or you're having trouble bonding with your baby, ask for help. Don't suffer in silence. Talk to your doctor, and reach out to family and friends for support.
Find out more about postpartum depression. Get tips from moms who've been there and see what they wish they'd known about postpartum depression.