Nine Ways to Bond with Your Baby

February 15, 2023 Infant

The bond you form with your baby starts as soon as they are born. As one of the most important tasks of babyhood, creating a strong bond becomes a lasting closeness and connection that gives your baby the security they need to explore and learn about the world. Babies who have a strong bond to their parents can handle daily stress like hunger and discomfort.

Your bond grows stronger when you and your baby respond to each other. For example, when your baby cries, you may respond with a diaper change, or a feeding. When you smile at your baby, they smile back at you. These back and forth responses to each other build a trusting bond and show your baby that the world is a safe and good place to be.

Babies who are strongly tied to mom and dad know that their basic needs like food, clothing, sleep, and attention will be met. Likewise, a close bond to your baby allows you to respond more easily to their needs.

The bond you create may also help your baby become a healthy eater. From breast/chest-feeding or formula feeding to starting solid food — and all the moments in between — you have many ways in which you can create a deep, trusting bond with your baby.

Here are nine simple ways to bond with your baby early on:



Holding your baby provides warmth and safety, and is easy to do while nursing or giving your baby a bottle.



Skin-to-skin contact, through touching, rubbing, patting or holding, can soothe your baby when they are upset and give them comfort.



Looking at your baby lets them know they are important to you and they have your full attention. In the early months, making eye contact helps your baby recognize you.



Your baby will study your face and begin to recognize and copy your expressions. Your baby’s first smile, and all the smiles afterward, are some of the most special moments you will share.



Use a sling or baby carrier, to hold and carry your baby while you do other tasks.



When your baby babbles or coos, “talk” back with words or noises. This lets them have a back and forth “conversation” with you and teaches them how to “talk.” When your baby starts solid food, tell them what they are eating by naming the food, its color, and flavor.



Crying is your baby’s language, and can mean hunger, a poopy diaper, or being too cold. Try to understand what your baby is telling you when they cry. Are they hungry, or just uncomfortable?

Learning your baby’s different signals will help you react correctly. Watch for signs of hunger and fullness to help you feed your baby the right amount. For example, when your baby pulls off the breast/chest or is distracted when drinking a bottle, these signs may tell you they are done eating.



Don’t wait too long to react to your baby’s needs. When you are quick to take care of them, they get the message that they are safe and important to you.



Too tired, not eating enough, or just stressed with the demands of a new baby? These can transform you from happy parent to stressed out parent. Don’t neglect your own needs — taking care of yourself will keep you happy and healthy and help you be a better parent.

These daily actions add up to building a solid and trusting bond with your baby. Remember, babies who are strongly bonded with their parents thrive as they learn about the world around them!

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Side Lying Hold

Side-Lying Hold

  1. For the right breast, lie on your right side with your baby facing you.
  2. Pull your baby close. Your baby’s mouth should be level with your nipple.
  3. In this position, you can cradle your baby’s back with your left arm and support yourself with your right arm and/or pillows.
  4. Keep loose clothing and bedding away from your baby.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Cross Cradle Hold

Cross-Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, use your left arm to hold your baby’s head at your right breast and baby’s body toward your left side. A pillow across your lap can help support your left arm.
  2. Gently place your left hand behind your baby’s ears and neck, with your thumb and index finger behind each ear and your palm between baby’s shoulder blades. Turn your baby’s body toward yours so your tummies are touching.
  3. Hold your breast as if you are squeezing a sandwich. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  4. As your baby’s mouth opens, push gently with your left palm on baby’s head to help them latch on. Make sure you keep your fingers out of the way.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Football Hold

Clutch or “Football” Hold

  1. For the right breast, hold your baby level, facing up, at your right side.
  2. Put your baby’s head near your right nipple and support their back and legs under your right arm.
  3. Hold the base of your baby’s head with your right palm. A pillow underneath your right arm can help support your baby’s weight.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Bring baby to you instead.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Breastfeeding Holds

Cradle Hold

  1. For the right breast, cradle your baby with your right arm. Your baby will be on their left side across your lap, facing you at nipple level.
  2. Your baby’s head will rest on your right forearm with your baby’s back along your inner arm and palm.
  3. Turn your baby’s tummy toward your tummy. Your left hand is free to support your breast, if needed. Pillows can help support your arm and elbow.
  4. To protect your back, avoid leaning down to your baby. Instead, bring your baby to you.
  5. Reverse for the left breast.

This hold is useful when:

Breastfeeding Holds

Laid-Back Hold

  1. Lean back on a pillow with your baby’s tummy touching yours and their head at breast level. Some moms find that sitting up nearly straight works well. Others prefer to lean back and lie almost flat.
  2. You can place your baby’s cheek near your breast, or you may want to use one hand to hold your breast near your baby. It’s up to you and what you think feels best.
  3. Your baby will naturally find your nipple, latch, and begin to suckle.

This hold is useful when: