Read Time: 3.5 minutes

TL;DR

  • If you’re unable to breastfeed your baby, it’s normal to feel sad, angry and guilty as you work to let go of the idea of breastfeeding through your own grieving process.
  • Try bonding with your baby through “kangaroo care” or skin-to-skin contact which increases the release of the hormone that is responsible for feelings of love.
  • Your new baby will see objects best that are between six and 10 inches away, which makes holding them close and locking eyes with him or her a great way to bond.
  • Avoid showering daily to allow your natural scent to become more present, promoting bonding with your baby.
  • Talking, singing and humming with your baby during feeding sessions will also help your relationship develop with your baby.
  • Whether you breastfeed, bottle feed or pump breast milk, you can still develop a close, deep bond with your new baby.

If you have chosen not to breastfeed or are unable to breastfeed your new baby, you may worry about bonding. Breastfeeding moms often cite bonding as one of their reasons for breastfeeding, which can leave non-breastfeeding moms wondering if they will be able to properly bond with their baby.

What you choose to feed your new little one does not determine the quality of your new relationship. Bottle feeding will give you plenty of opportunities to snuggle, cuddle and look into your new baby’s eyes while forming a strong mother-child relationship.

Letting Go of Breastfeeding

You may have spent a good portion of your pregnancy researching breastfeeding and picturing yourself nursing your little one only to discover that you either won’t be able to breastfeed or need to discontinue nursing for health, financial or personal reasons. If this is the case, you may feel sad, angry and guilty. Letting go of breastfeeding or the idea of breastfeeding is a grieving process, and it’s completely normal to have mixed feelings. The most important thing is that your new little one is getting the nutrition he or she needs to grow and thrive.

Tips for Bonding with Your Baby

Kangaroo Care

“Kangaroo care,” or skin-to-skin contact, is one of the most helpful ways to bond with your new little one. Skin-to-skin contact increases the release of oxytocin, a hormone that is responsible for feelings of love. Studies have shown that not only does skin-to-skin contact promote bonding, it is an essential part of healthy child development.

To try kangaroo care, either remove your shirt completely or wear a button-up shirt and unbutton the upper portion of the buttons. Remove your little one’s clothing (except for his or her diaper). Hold him or her against your skin during feeding time, using a light blanket if necessary for comfort.

Maintain Eye Contact

When your little one enters the world, he or she will have a difficult time seeing things that are far away. Your new baby will see objects best that are between six and 10 inches away, which makes holding them close and locking eyes with him or her a great way to bond. Staring at each other while you bottle feed will help increase the release of oxytocin for both you and your baby, promoting bonding and a healthy relationship.

Skip the Shower

As a mom of a newborn, you probably aren’t showering as often as you did pre-baby, and for bonding purposes, this is a good thing. Your new little one can’t see very well yet, so he or she will use scent as a way to recognize you. Studies have found that amniotic fluid contains the scents of food often eaten during pregnancy and of the expectant mom herself, which means that your little one became used to your scent while in the womb.

Skipping your daily shower increases your natural scent, which will help him or her to relax and digest their food better while eating. When you do shower, opt for more natural-smelling soaps and shampoos, rather than heavily fragranced ones, to promote bonding with your baby.

Keep Talking

Just like your little one became used to your scent while in the womb, he or she also learned to recognize your voice. Talking, singing and humming with your baby during feeding sessions will help your relationship develop with your baby. Smiling during your little “chat sessions” will also help increase this bond. Don’t feel like every time you feed your little one you need to be a chatterbox in order to bond; it’s okay to stay quiet at night to help your baby fall asleep.

Minimize Distractions

Your new baby will want to eat very often, which means that you are going to be doing a lot of feeding. While it’s tempting to pull out your phone or computer to catch up on emails, work and social media, try to minimize distractions as often as possible, especially in the early days, in order to promote bonding.

Whether you breastfeed, bottle feed or pump breast milk, you can still develop a close, deep bond with your new baby. Let go of any guilt you may have and know that you are doing your very best for your baby. By doing so, you will help strengthen the incredible bond you have with your child to develop a meaningful life-long relationship.

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