Parenting

Easy and Sweet Ways to Bond With Baby While Bottle-Feeding

mom bottle feeding newbornSometimes breastfeeding just doesn't work out. And when that's the case, it's normal to fear that you -- and your baby -- are somehow "missing out" on a special time. Not to worry. Here's how to make bottle-feeding your baby a bonding experience.

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Tune in. In our plugged-in world, it can be hard to put multitasking on hold and do just one thing. But "turning off your phone or iPad will ensure you give your baby your undivided attention and eye contact," says Jennifer Shu, MD, a pediatrician and medical editor of healthychildren.org. "You'll also be more in tune to her needs -- and smiles!"

Get some alone time. Sometimes, you have no choice but to feed on the fly. But when you have the time, make feedings one-on-one. Sit in a rocker so you both can relax, suggests Dr. Shu. Then "feed in a dark, quiet room if it's around her bedtime or she gets distracted by her surroundings."

Take off your shirt. And baby's onesie, too! This skin-to-skin contact, called "kangaroo care," releases a "love hormone" that "helps you two feel a connection with each other," says Susan J. Dulkerian, MD, interim chairman, department of pediatrics and director of newborn services at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.

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Talk or sing to baby. Even if you don't have a great singing voice -- or anything important to say -- your baby craves the sound of your voice, says Dr. Dulkerian. "Many of us fondly remember the songs that were sung or hummed to us as babies."

Follow your baby's cues. Don't worry about a strict feeding schedule. Instead, pay attention to signs baby's hungry -- for example, sucking on his hands or opening his mouth in search of a nipple -- and respond to them with feedings, says Allison Coleman, a certified doula and owner of Austin Baby Guru, which offers postpartum care and classes in Austin, Texas. An "on demand" feeding style lets your infant know she can trust you to take care of her needs.

Stay away from heavy scents. "Babies have a keen sense of smell and recognize you by your scent," says Coleman. A daily shower is okay, but skip heavily perfumed soaps, lotions, or perfumes which can overwhelm infants and distract from the soothing smell of mom.

Find other ways to bond. No matter how you feed, you and baby can have a super-close relationship. For example, you two can bond through babywearing, games of peekaboo, and even feedings of solid foods when baby's old enough for them.

"How you feed your child does not define the mother you are," says Coleman. "That is about the relationship you have."

 

How do you bond with your baby during feedings?


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