Mother holding baby, rubbing head.

How to bond with your baby through the first year

Bonding with your baby is a natural part of parenthood, but that doesn't mean it will come naturally to every new parent. Bonding plays an important role in the growth of your child. In fact, how you interact with your newborn now supports her future physical, emotional, and cognitive development.

Sometimes that attachment might not occur right away. At first, trying to make connections might feel unnatural or awkward. This is not uncommon. With a little patience and some new ideas, you can start to make meaningful connections with your newborn that will last a lifetime.

Easy ways to strengthen the connection with your baby

The following different ways to interact with your baby can help build your relationship at each age and stage. You'll be helping her achieve developmental milestones at the same time.

Bonding with your baby from 0 to 3 months

Baby interaction Milestone
Hold your baby in your arms and make eye contact. Show your baby a bright toy. When it catches your baby's eye, slowly move the object. While you are cuddling and playing with your newborn, your baby is learning to visually track moving objects.
Lay on the floor with your baby and place her on her stomach for about 1 or 2 minutes. Shake a rattle or use your voice to get your baby's attention. When she lifts her head to see you, gently clap or cheer encouragement. This bonding activity helps your baby connect with you while it simultaneously works the muscles in her neck, back, and stomach.

Bonding with your baby from 3 to 6 months

Baby interaction Milestone
Stand in front of a mirror with your baby and make faces — happy, sad, and excited. Babies love to imitate, so gently cheer when your baby copies you. This builds your baby's social ability to recognize emotional cues, while teaching facial expressions and their meanings.
Talk to your baby about tasks related to daily routines while you are doing them, such as washing the dishes, doing the laundry, and making the bed. Talking with your baby helps connect your voice to her eyes, which can help lay the foundation for a lifetime of conversations.

Bonding with your baby from 6 to 9 months

Baby interaction Milestone
Place your baby on her stomach with a few toys slightly out of reach. When she spots one, help her reach for it by placing the palms of your hands on her feet, and gently pushing her forward toward the toy. This encourages your baby to reach, roll, move, and scoot while playing together.
On a piece of paper, draw a simple shape. On another piece of paper, draw two of the same simple shapes. Describe the shapes, colors, and number of objects on the paper. This sets the stage to help your baby learn about quantities of objects.

Bonding with your baby from 9 to 12 months

Baby interaction Milestone
Gently roll a plush ball toward your baby. Cheer when your baby catches or stops the ball and ask your baby to roll it back. Try it with a little bounce, too. You're helping your baby develop hand-eye coordination while making a fun connection with him.
Play a classic game of peekaboo with a small, light blanket over your head. Let your baby take a turn by gently covering her head with the blanket and lifting it away. This will help your baby begin to understand the idea of object permanence (that unseen objects still exist) while having fun at the same time.

These different types of interactions can go a long way in supporting your baby's development while giving you opportunities to bond. If you're still feeling like the connection isn't coming along, speak with your doctor or your child's pediatrician for additional methods and strategies.

Bonding With Baby - Similac    Bonding With Baby - Similac
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