The birth of a child is one of the most amazing and intense moments to experience and be a witness to. As a parent and birth professional I feel privileged to have experienced the former and the latter.
When we bond with our babies and children, we create a trust that sustains them and us through those inevitable all-nighters that often happen to us parents. It also gives us the confidence to parent using our own judgment when we’re receiving varying advice from well meaning friends and family.
Some of the best ways to bond are things that are second nature to us:
1. Touching our babies, hugging our older children and holding their hands.
2. Giving them eye contact and our uninterrupted attention during diaper changes, mealtimes, bedtime rituals and story times.
3. Nature walks, not only are we introducing the benefits of exercise to our children at a young age, research has shown people feel happier when they spend time outside. A boon for them and us!
4. Whether you have a green thumb or not, whether you have a yard or just pots on a balcony, gardening together is great. It’s not too difficult to find small herbs and plants that have the endurance to survive the beginning gardener. I recommend getting children their own watering can and garden boots for green thumb escapades.
5. Cooking is another great bonding activity, in my book. For small children this can be something as simple as handing you an ingredient or mixing. For older children the sky is the limit!
6. Family dinners are a big one! They are almost too obvious to list, but with modern life so readily infringing upon our together time with email notifications, phone calls and text messages, simply unplugging entirely for that 30 to 60 minutes can sometimes be a challenge. I had my son sitting at the dinner table with us before he was even eating solids. I recommend the Stokke high chair. It slides right up to the table and puts your child right at the table with everyone else.
7. Last but not least, my all-time favorite, which I use to filter my parenting through when I’m at a loss, is “treat them how you want to be treated!” Things always turn out better when I parent with this thought in mind.