This post originally appeared on our blog a couple of years ago as "Bonding with Baby after Infant Adoption," and we've refreshed it for 2017.
Some adoptive parents expect to feel a bond with their adopted baby right away. Right now, you might be feeling worried and uncertain…what if you don’t feel a connection? Lifetime knows that there are special bonds which develop between adoptive parents and their babies. Like many other areas of being a parent, bonding with a baby will take work and dedication. Today, we're sharing 5 tips for bonding with your adopted baby!
"Bonding is not always instantaneous - It’s a lifelong process. You need to invest time, touch, and attention."
-Dr. William Sears, pediatrician and author of more than 30 parenting books and articles.
Dr. Sears is one of the leading advocates of attachment parenting. It's a method that Sears and his wife Martha (a registered nurse, lactation consultant, and co-author) used on their eight children, including their adopted daughter. "Attachment Parenting" means keeping your baby with you as much as possible while quickly and sensitively responding to their needs. Here are 5 tips from the attachment parenting method that are effective for adoptive parents hoping to bond with their new infant:
1. Skin-to-Skin Contact
There are incredible benefits that come with skin-to-skin contact, including breastfeeding, behavior, and physiology. To practice skin-to-skin contact with your adopted infant, simply dress your baby down to just a diaper during feeding. An adoptive mom then removes or unbuttons her shirt so that baby’s skin is in contact with hers. (Dads can try skin-to-skin, too). Another good opportunity to try skin-to-skin contact is during naptime, by holding your baby close while she sleeps. This practice is particularly beneficial for moms who are planning on adoptive breastfeeding.
2. Eye Contact
Newborn babies are nearsighted, and for the first three months of life they can best see objects around eight to 15 inches away. This just happens to be the average distance between a mother’s breast and face, making feeding time an excellent opportunity to practice eye contact with your baby. Infants prefer to look at faces over other objects, and every time you and baby gaze at one another, they're building a memory of your face. If your adopted infant is bottle fed, be sure to hold them at breast level to maximize the bonding benefits of eye contact.
3. Infant Massage
Massage comes with lots of wonderful benefits for your baby, including growth of the mind and body, and improved digestion, self-esteem, and behavior. Infant massage can become part of your everyday life, practiced right after bath time or in the evening when the whole family is home for the day. Massage is a perfect way for a working parent to reconnect with their baby after being gone all day. Both dads and moms can practice gentle, loving touch with their new baby, which will help her to bond with both caregivers.
4. Baby wearing
One of the easiest ways to bond with your baby from the beginning is through baby wearing. Using a carrier, sling or wrap, baby can snuggle close while freeing up mom or dad’s hands. Carrying baby close allows her to hear your heartbeat and feel your body warmth. According to Dr. Sears, “Infants who are carried more cry less.” Less crying not only benefits mom and dad, but also baby. “Infants who spend less time crying spend more time to growing and learning."
5. Responsive Parenting
Responding quickly and lovingly to your baby’s needs fosters a sense of trust between baby and parents. Your adopted infant soon learns that you are her source of calm and comfort, and that you will take care of her needs. As baby’s trust in you grows, so does the bond of love between you both.
Lifetime Adoption can tell you that the bond that begins after infant adoption will become a love that you both cherish for years to follow!
If you want to keep up with stories from other adoptive parents as you prepare for infant adoption, be sure to sign up for Lifetime’s free webinars!