Bonding with Baby Mindfully

Man touching his baby while lying on white pad
Raising a baby is incredibly hard work. Hopefully by bringing a little mindfulness into your daily care, both of you can relax and let go, allowing you to settle into life as a family.

Focusing on the Breath

Chances are you’re already checking baby’s breathing, making sure they’re sleeping alright, watching for each hiccup or pause. One of the most basic instructions in mindfulness practice is to notice your breath. So find a quiet moment such as when you’re getting baby ready for bed and unite the two.

Look into your baby’s eyes and pay attention to the rise and fall of their chest. Now pay attention to your own. You can place one hand gently on their chest, one on your own and feel as your hands rise up and down. If you get distracted and start thinking about dinner or work or the mess in the living room, that's alright. Once you notice you are distracted just turn your attention back to the breath.

Baby Massage

Spending time touching and holding your baby is beneficial to the mental wellbeing of both you and your child. It increases levels of oxytocin (also known as the bonding hormone) and decreases levels of cortisol (stress hormone). Massage provides important skin to skin contact and has been shown to improve baby's sleep, boost their immune system, reduces gas and intestinal problems, and many other benefits.

person holding baby's feetWhile you massage baby, pay attention. Notice how their skin feels against yours. Make eye contact, watching them as they watch you. Make faces or sing softly. Notice their breathing and match yours to theirs. Five to ten minutes is usually long enough and if baby starts to fall asleep or get fussy it’s alright to finish early.

The many benefits of infant massage - Children's Hospital of Richmond at VCU

Infant Massage - Raising Arizona Kids

Baby Loving Kindness

Loving kindness meditation, also known as metta meditation, is a kind of meditation where you wish yourself and your close loved ones well and slowly expand those well wishes out to the world. Spending time to send loving thoughts to yourself and to your baby can increase your ability to connect with one another, you’ll be better able to accept faults and mistakes in yourself and others and studies show it helps manage the strain of long-term caregiving. 

Find an uncluttered place to walk, a path through your home or a stretch of path outside. Holding baby securely in your arms as you walk back and forth, repeat the following:

May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you be safe
May you feel loved.

Start by directing these well wishes toward your baby. Repeat them a few times, looking into your child’s eyes. Next, continuing to walk back and forth, think of yourself as you repeat:

May I be happy
May I be healthy
May I be safe
May I feel loved.

When you can feel these to be true towards yourself, you can more easily extend it out onto others.

Mother kissing child on cheek

Raising an infant is rewarding, messy, emotional and chaotic. You will be filled with self-doubt and stress many times. Learn to take a moment before reacting. Learn to give yourself space.

May you be happy
May you be healthy
May you be safe
May you feel loved.

When you are Frustrated

STOP

•    Stop. Just take a momentary pause, no matter what you’re doing. 
•    Take a breath. Feel the sensation of your own breathing, which brings you back to the present moment. 
•    Observe. Acknowledge what is happening, for good or bad, inside you or out. Just note it. 
•    Proceed. Having briefly checked in with the present moment, continue with whatever it was you were doing.

Further Reading

Mindfulness for Children from New York Times

Mindful with Your Baby: Feasibility, Acceptability, and Effects of a Mindful Parenting Group Training for Mothers and Their Babies in a Mental Health Context

Mindfulness for Parents - Zero to Three

Mindfulness Practices - Lynda.com (Hint: Access Lynda.com through the library for free!)

Meditation Is An Open Sky I Am HumanMindful Games

Bonding With Baby Mindfully

Posted by NaomiB on June 22, 2020