How to Bond with Your Baby Without Breastfeeding  

Many mothers want to breastfeed in order to bond with their babies after birth. Yet, many mothers face challenges with breastfeeding due to a variety of reasons: low milk supply, trouble with latching, milk duct infections and more. When mothers are unable to breastfeed, they can often feel disconnected with their babies and grieve the loss of the breastfeeding connection that they wanted. However, breastfeeding is not the only way to connect and reinforce that bond with your baby.  

Mothers, fathers, caregivers and adoptive parents can find ways to connect with their babies without breastfeeding. Here are three different ways you can bond with your baby:  

Skin-to-skin 

Skin-to-skin contact is something that happens while breastfeeding your baby. But if breastfeeding is not an option, sharing time with your baby skin-to-skin is the next best option. Sharing time together skin-to-skin allows the baby to smell your scent and feel your warmth which not only builds an emotional connection between you and your baby, but it also helps their physical development by improving their immune systems and temperature regulation. Skin-to-skin can happen while feeding from a bottle, in the bath while bathing them, or just when you are cuddling with them before bed. Mothers and fathers alike can bond with their baby by sharing these special moments with them.  

Eye contact 

Being a new parent can be stressful and oftentimes parents take a mental break when bottle feeding their baby. However, making eye contact with your baby during bottle feeding is another way parents can bond with their baby. Babies are experiencing everything for the first time. By making eye contact with your baby, you are providing a comforting face that they will learn to recognize. This will not only help create a bond with your baby, but will also aid their overall development. Eye contact while feeding your baby is important, but eye contact can also happen at other times throughout the day, like tummy time or while bathing them. Eye contact is an easy way for mothers and fathers to feel a connection to their baby.  

Talk to your baby 

Talking to your baby is another way you can connect with your baby. While it may seem silly at first to communicate with your baby because they are unable to communicate back with you, it is an easy way to develop a relationship with your baby. Talking or singing to your baby during feedings and throughout the day can help comfort your baby. During the first months of a baby’s life, they are learning how to listen and make noises with their mouth. Babies spend time cooing or babbling during this time. By mirroring these noises, babies are able to learn communication skills while becoming closer to you and building their bond with you.  

Just because breastfeeding may not be an option for you and your baby, it doesn’t mean that bonding with your baby will be more difficult. You can bond with your baby by devoting time to creating that connection. Try to take time each day to act intentionally, whether it’s sharing time skin-to-skin, making eye contact or even just talking with your baby.  

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