Contrary to what many people think, parents don't always bond automatically with their infants immediately after birth. Bonding isn't a one-time-only event; it's a process. The intense connection between parents and children develops as they gradually get to know each other and, quite naturally, fall in love.
One of the biggest boosts to the bonding process is cuddling. Experts say that at birth touch is the most developed of the five senses. It's also the earliest to develop in the womb. That's why your baby craves and responds so strongly to being held, hugged, stroked, and generally caressed--especially when you hold him against your bare skin.
Every baby is different. Some want and need more cuddling than others. Although it may seem troublesome to hold your infant as much as he wants, in the long run it pays off. Your close attention and responsiveness in the early months will make your baby more secure, happier, and less frustrated by the end of his first year.
Looking In Your Eyes
At birth, a baby's eyes can focus clearly only at a distance of between 10 and 16 inches. This is, not coincidentally, exactly the distance from your baby's face to yours when he's in your arms.
Research has demonstrated that infants would rather look at a human face than anything else, especially when they can make eye contact. Eventually, your loving gazes will be rewarded with a magical moment: your baby's first smile. If your baby breaks off eye contact, it just means he's had enough and needs a rest.
Breast vs. Bottle
Though breastfeeding isn't a requirement for good bonding, babies thrive on the contact it guarantees. Bottle-feeding can be gratifying too. Hold your baby close while you feed him.
Dr. Bettye M. Caldwell Ph.D. Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education
Our parenting advice is given as suggestions only. We recommend you also consult your healthcare provider, and urge you to contact them immediately if your question is urgent or about a medical condition.