When your baby first arrives your bond may begin immediately, or for some it may take you both time to "grow on each other". One thing we know for sure is that bonding is essential for a baby.
Studies of newborn rhesus monkeys performed by Dr. Harry Harlow, show that these same monkeys when given a choice between two surrogate "mothers," one made of terrycloth, the other of wire and had food, overwhelmingly the baby monkeys chose the mother that could provide warmth and comfort. It was found that the young monkeys clung to the terrycloth mother whether it provided them with food or not, and that the young monkeys chose the wire surrogate only when it provided food. They would eat their food and return to the terrycloth mother for comfort.
In other research studies, when baby rhesus monkeys were placed with mannequin mothers at birth it showed that, despite the efforts of the baby monkeys to get a response through holding and touching the mannequins, the lack of a parental response caused sadness, stunted development, and failure to thrive in the young monkeys. Scientists suspect that lack of bonding in human babies causes similar problems.
Luckily for us humans, most infants are ready to bond immediately. Parents, on the other hand, may have mixed feelings about it. Many parents feel an intense attachment within the first minutes or days after their baby's birth. For others, especially if there are other circumstances, such as the baby is adopted or has been placed in intensive care, this all important bonding may take a bit longer.
Bonding is a process, and is not something that takes place within a few moments of time or is limited to happening within a certain time period after baby's arrival. For many families, bonding happens naturally as the result of everyday care giving. It is quite possible you may not even know it is happening until you observe your baby's first smile, make eye contact, and suddenly realize that you're filled with love for your new baby.
If you find that you want to encourage your bonding to happen you may wish to try infant massage with your baby. By massaging your infant you are helping to encourage your bond through eye-to-eye and skin-to-skin contact. This type of loving interaction helps you, as the parent, to recognize your baby's unique cues and respond appropriately. Meeting your little one's needs assists in building a lifelong bond of love and trust.
The best way to get started is to take an infant massage class or private lessons so that you can learn the many benefits of infant massage, as well as numerous strokes that you and baby may enjoy. Not all parents and babies like all of the massage strokes, but having a variety of massage strokes in your memory bank will help to vary the massage with your baby as they grow and develop different likes and dislikes.
Through finding a special massage that works for you, your family bond will continue to strengthen and grow.
About the Author
With over a decade of service to children and families, Tina Allen, founder of Liddle Kidz™, has become an internationally respected parent educator and expert in the field of infant and children's massage therapy. Her innovative approach to children's health has allowed her the unique opportunity to educate families and professionals throughout the world in the many benefits of nurturing touch.