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Parents, on the other hand, may have a mixture of feelings about it. Some parents feel an intense attachment within the first minutes or days after their baby's birth. For others, it may take a bit longer. But bonding is a process, not something that takes place within minutes and not something that has to be limited to happening within a certain time period after birth.

For many parents, bonding is a byproduct of everyday caregiving. You may not even know it's happening until you observe your baby's first smile and suddenly realize that you're filled with love and joy. When you're a new parent, it often takes a while to understand your newborn and all the ways you can interact:.

Bonding with your baby is probably one of the most pleasurable aspects of infant care.

Why secure early bonding is essential for babies | Social Care Network | The Guardian

You can begin by cradling your baby and gently rocking or stroking him or her. If you and your partner both hold and touch your infant frequently, your little one will soon come to know the difference between your touches. Both of you can also take the opportunity to be "skin to skin" with your newborn by holding him or her against your own skin when feeding or cradling.

Babies, especially premature babies and those with medical problems , may respond to infant massage. Because babies aren't as strong as adults, you'll need to massage your baby very gently. Before trying out infant massage, be sure to educate yourself on proper techniques by checking out the many books, videos, and websites on the subject. You can also contact your local hospital to find out if there are classes in infant massage in your area. Breastfeeding and bottle-feeding are both natural times for bonding.

Infants respond to the smell and touch of their mothers, as well as the responsiveness of the parents to their needs. In an uncomplicated birth, caregivers try to take advantage of the infant's alert period immediately after birth and encourage feeding and holding of the baby.

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Adoptive parents may be concerned about bonding with their baby. Although it might happen sooner for some than others, adopted babies and their parents can bond just as well as biological parents and their children. Men these days spend more time with their infants than dads of past generations did. Although dads frequently yearn for closer contact with their babies, bonding frequently occurs on a different timetable, partially because they don't have the early contact of breastfeeding that many moms have.

But dads should realize, early on, that bonding with their child isn't a matter of being another mom. In many cases, dads share special activities with their infants. And both parents benefit greatly when they can support and encourage one another. Of course, it's easier to bond with your baby if the people around you are supportive and help you develop confidence in your parenting abilities.

That's one reason experts recommend having your baby stay in your room at the hospital. While taking care of a baby is overwhelming at first, you can benefit from the emotional support provided by the staff and start becoming more confident in your abilities as a parent. Although rooming-in often is not possible for parents of premature babies or babies with special needs, the support from the hospital staff can make bonding with the infant easier.

At first, caring for a newborn can take nearly all of your attention and energy — especially for a breastfeeding mom. Bonding will be much easier if you aren't exhausted by all of the other things going on at home, such as housework, meals, and laundry. It's helpful if dads or other partners can give an extra boost with these everyday chores, as well as offer plenty of general emotional support. And it's OK to ask family members and friends for help in the days — even weeks — after you bring your baby home. But because having others around during such a transitional period can sometimes be uncomfortable, overwhelming, or stressful, you might want to ask people to drop off meals, walk the dog, or run an errand for you.

Bonding may be delayed for various reasons. Parents-to-be may form a picture of their baby having certain physical and emotional traits. When a baby cries, it doesn't know it is wet, tired, hungry, bored or hot — it just knows something is wrong, and it relies on a loving adult to soothe its feelings. The baby whose basic needs are met learns that the world is a good place, and he or she will retain this sense for life, as almost an instinct. The baby who is neglected or abused cannot regulate its own feelings.

If its needs are not met it will scream louder and louder and eventually take refuge in sleep.

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A baby left to continually scream will experience raised levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which can damage the immune system. The "social" part of the brain only starts to develop at around six months. Where a baby does not receive any attention, this part of the brain does not grow and may never grow. Of course this doesn't mean they will all go on to have behavioural or relationship problems, but they will be less robust in their emotional make up to meet the challenges and disappointments of life.

If we want to change our society for the better, we must focus on the crucial period between conception and the age of two. Prevention is not only kinder, it's also far cheaper than cure. What about other unmeasured costs? The question is, what can be done about it? This is where the vision of Parent Infant Partnerships Pips comes in — to help parents form a loving and secure bond with their babies.

It ought to be natural to form that secure bond. But post-natal depression, problems with conception or the birth experience, domestic violence and issues of poverty can all get in the way. And one of the biggest obstacles to forming that secure bond is when Mum didn't have a secure relationship with her own mother. This truly is a cycle of deprivation that is passed down through generations.

Therapeutic support can and does break that cycle, helping the carer come to terms with their own feelings and fears. They are funded half by contracts with statutory service providers and half by fundraising efforts. Pips work because they are set up and run by local people within their community.

Bonding With Your Baby

Oxpip and Norpip each have a board of volunteer trustees, who give time, money and knowledge to establishing and developing the service. Oxpip has developed excellent training programmes that teach professionals to spot early attachment problems as well as train parent-infant psychotherapists. Pips can determine their own fate.

They accept self referrals from sometimes desperate parents, from health visitors and midwives who are key to identifying problems early, and also from social workers who deal with the most difficult and unhappy cases.

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They negotiate contracts to take referrals from different organisations, from the county council to the GP commissioners to children's centres. Earlier this year, I hosted jointly with the University of Northampton a major conference on Pips. I was delighted to announce that we will be establishing a new charitable foundation, Parent Infant Partnership UK — Pip UK for short — which will provide co-funding and practical support to those local authority areas that wish to establish their own early-years service.

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Several of my MP colleagues have already expressed an interest in learning more about the Pip model. The University of Northampton has created a Pip toolkit — a guide to how to establish a Pip. Pips are, of course, not the only model for delivering therapeutic support to struggling families. What is clear to all those involved in supporting the earliest relationships is that the awareness of the critical period from conception to age two is not widely understood in our NHS and public services.