As a new parent, charting the ultimate timeline for bonding with your baby can often seem overwhelming. But simple acts like making goo-goo eyes, cuddling, and playtime are more than just adorable interactions; they are essential in fostering your baby’s healthy growth and development.
Have you ever noticed how your baby’s adorable face, with its rosy cheeks, bright eyes, and a sly grin, is more captivating to look at than the most award-winning blockbuster? That’s not a fluke. You two have an innate affinity for one another’s company. And if you trust your gut and begin building a strong rapport with them right away, you may lay the groundwork for a lifetime of wonderful friendships.
One study found that adults who were more firmly tied to their partners as infants (who sought their mothers’ comfort when venturing into the unknown) were more likely to emerge from a disagreement feeling closer to their partners as young adults. Author and University of Minnesota psychology adjunct professor Jeff Simpson, Ph.D., says, “The results of this study show that how we are treated as babies has something to do with our ability to love, trust, and work out problems.”
Protecting your child’s health may be as simple as loving them. According to a study published in Psychological Science, children who have attentive parents are less likely to experience the negative health effects of chronic stress.
Developing a close relationship with your sweetheart is a natural and fulfilling process. University of Miami, professor of child psychology Daniel Messinger, Ph.D., argues, “Attachment isn’t about acting the ‘correct’ way.” The key is keeping an eye on her and responding to her with care. You know you’re succeeding if you’re both enjoying yourself. In search of some advice? Find out in this article what your newborn really needs from you in the first year of life.
Zero to Three Months
Having a preference.
There is a rationale behind the fact that the smell of your baby’s skin causes intense feelings of love. The bonding hormone oxytocin is released when you smell, hug, or breastfeed your newborn, making you feel more loving and protective and eliciting the same response from your kid.
Nature provides more than oxytocin to keep you and your baby warm and fuzzy toward one another. Your infant is wired to seek you out from the moment of birth. They are able to pick out human faces and voices from a crowd, and they are fascinated by following your every move. It’s no coincidence that the distance between your face and your baby’s while they are cradled in your arms is roughly 8 to 12 inches; this is the sweet spot for your baby’s vision. Babies can already respond to their parents’ voices and turn toward them. Aww-mazing!
Babies enjoy the company of someone who seems really happy to be with them. Two-month-old infants can detect abnormalities in their mother’s responses to their cues. Researchers in one experiment set up video and audio equipment so that moms could interact with their infants from different location. The child’s gaze shifted away from the screen when a one-second gap was introduced between what the infant saw and the mother’s reactions. “Babies want to feel like they’re in control,” says Tricia Striano, Ph.D., a psychologist at Hunter College in New York City and author of the study. Babies will act in ways to get a reaction from their moms if they know they will get one.
When your newborn first smiles, don’t put too much stock in it. It happens naturally. However, by 6 weeks, infants begin to react to their surroundings, and by 2 to 3 months, their brains have matured to the point where they can gaze directly at you when they grin, signaling that they attribute that happiness to you.
Create a stronger connection.
Demonstrate your love for the small one. “Get in tune with your baby,” says Meredith F. Small, Ph.D., professor emerita at Cornell University. Hold him when you can and pay special attention to his wriggling or silence. You can use this information to decipher his signals of hunger and satisfaction. Research suggests that carrying your kid in a carrier while you’re on the go is just as effective as breastfeeding, snuggling, or massaging to keep you connected when you’re on the go.
During face time, interact with your baby in a natural way—using the expressions, coos, and cuddles that bring you joy. People will see through your pretense! Babies will soon stop paying attention to a mother who is smiling for no apparent reason.
Between Four and Eight Months
Your child’s developing intelligence enables them to tell the difference between interacting with you and a stranger. Dr. Messinger continues, “She learns, ‘Unlike other adults, Mom comforts me, and when I cry, Dad usually feeds me.'” In a conversation, “they have certain expectations.”
Your baby’s developing brain needs the stimulation of play and exploration, which they will engage in if you have constantly tried to calm them, and they feel as though you are watching out for them. When a baby takes up an object and manipulates it, as opposed to just staring at it, she gains new information. Your baby will learn the most from interacting with the world around her by touching and exploring everything.
Your child will have an easier time adjusting to your return to work if they are already familiar with the home environment. In addition, your infant will develop the independence to explore and learn even when you’re not around. Now is the time to instill in your child the confidence that she will be well cared for by an outsider, such as a nanny or daycare provider. Your infant will be all smiles as you walk through the door at home. Babies are still learning to control their emotions, and if they turn away from you, it’s because they’re overwhelmed with happiness.
Create a stronger connection.
Keep your infant close as you go about your day to provide mental stimulation for their developing brain. You can’t fool a baby into thinking you’re too busy to pay attention to her if you put her in front of the TV. If you include her in the fun, she’ll appreciate it. Play peek-a-boo while you fold laundry and chat with your toddler whenever you can. And as your infant begins to play with blocks and other toys, be sure to lavish them with verbal expressions of praise.
However, if your infant isn’t in a social mood, try not to take it to heart. Babies have a need to avert their gaze occasionally. Those googly eyes are a lot of work!
Nine to Twelve Months
Let’s not split up.
If you try to leave your baby’s side, they may become clingy. This is common and will pass in time. Around the 9-month mark, when your baby can recognize you even when you’re not in front of them, separation anxiety begins to manifest. However, they are very perceptive to trends and will notice your return. Giving your kid reliable indications, such as appearing again ‘in a minute,’ will help them learn to anticipate your return. Babies who have no real way of knowing when their caregiver will return tend to have more difficulty.
In the midst of these heartbreaking farewells, you’ll notice another social milestone: your child will start using gestures like waving and lifting their arms to be picked up to express what they want. Infants will begin to communicate their goals. They may stare fixedly at something in the hopes that you’ll give it your attention. They “share” smiles as well, beaming first at a toy and then at you. This change in eye contact is deliberate.
Create a stronger connection.
Assure your child that you are trying to comprehend what they are saying by giving them powerful, reassuring gestures of your affection. That’s not exactly a rallying cry. It’s more of a green light to put everything on hold for a while and follow your gut. It’s unusual for parents in our culture to set aside their responsibilities—such as paying bills or folding clothes—to watch their infant play. Your baby really wants to interact with you, so try to put aside your concerns and focus on him occasionally. You’re putting off the chores in favor of a cuddle session; what gives? To that, we give each other a hearty embrace!
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