Working moms, without a doubt, miss out on some quality time with their babies—and sometimes even milestones—while they’re at work. But that doesn’t rule out the possibility of forming a strong bond with your child.
According to the United States Department of Labor, 70% of mothers with children under the age of 18 have a job, and 40% of mothers are the breadwinners in their households, implying that mastering the work-motherhood balance as early as possible is essential. Even if it’s just carving out an extra hour per workday, it’s important to create your own bonding rituals. Continue reading to learn eight simple ways to bond with a baby, including advice from real-life mum bosses who have been there.
Feedings Can Be Turned Into Quality Time
Instead of treating feedings as a chore to be completed, turn them into one-on-one time with your child. Your child will not only feel closer to you because you are meeting her most basic needs, but she will also enjoy some extra cuddles and being close to you. “Because my job was more demanding when I had my first child, I would get up earlier to nurse in peace,” says Ascia Sahar, the blogger behind I Am Ascia. “I knew I’d be limited to pumping most days, so planning those morning snuggles brought me joy.”
Make Bath Time a Memorable Experience
Baths are initially used to relax your child before bedtime. It’s also a good time to check on your baby’s development and introduce sights, smells, and movements that are important for development. Include a few bath toys that will demonstrate new shapes and colors, and talk to your child in a soothing tone to explain what he is seeing: “This is the color red” or “This shape is a square.” Add some baby wash that lathers up to make a bubble bath to make bath time even more of a ritual to look forwards to. If you blow a few bubbles into the air, your child will not want to get out of the tub.
Make Storytime Your Own
Even if your child can’t understand what you’re saying while you’re reading or telling a story, she’ll still feel connected to you. Your baby’s emotional development is aided when she hears your voice making expressive sounds. (Plus, by the age of two, children who hear more words have a larger vocabulary.) Make up a story that revolves around your child or order a custom storybook with them as the main character to spice up reading time.
Use Skin-to-skin Contact Whenever Possible
Skin-to-skin contact relaxes the baby and aids in the regulation of body temperature and heart rate (after all, their first nine months of development were spent very close to mom). Although this type of contact, known as kangaroo care, is important immediately after birth to ensure that the baby is exposed to the same bacteria as mum and to prevent allergies, it doesn’t have to end once your child has been discharged from the hospital. Malika D. Shah, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics and neonatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, says, “Do it as long as both the baby and the parents enjoy it.” “It’s time to let your baby do her own thing when she starts fussing and attempting to get off your chest.”
Share Some of Your Favorite Pastimes
Bonding over something you both enjoy is one of the best ways to have fun with your child. When it comes to bonding with her two children (now three and five), Lauren Kleban, founder of the fitness method LEKfit, says it’s all about dance. “I’ve discovered that sharing my passions with both of my children, such as music, dance, and fitness, really helps us bond,” she says. “Our daily dance parties are my life.” Take a page from Kleban’s book and throw your own weekly “dance party” with your kid. While listening to some of your favorite songs, twirl them around in your arms. Similarly, if you enjoy painting or drawing, keep them nearby while you do so, or sing to them if you enjoy music.
Giving Your Baby a Massage is a Great Way to Bond With Him or Her
An infant massage, like kangaroo care, will elicit feelings of attachment from the baby towards you. You can do this in the bath or right before bed to lull your child to sleep, but any time together will suffice. Rub your child’s arms, legs, or back with your fingertips. You should use very gentle movements with little pressure. Consult your pediatrician if you have any questions or concerns about the proper technique.
Use a Front Carrier or Sling to Carry the Baby
Making memories with your child can be as simple as going about your daily routines together, whether you’re running errands or simply walking around your house. When you carry a baby in the front carrier, you can not only make eye contact with them, but you can also keep them close to you so they can get used to your scent. You can imitate their expressions by smiling when they smile or speaking to them when they coo. These will be the first and most memorable stages of truly “communicating” with your child.
Mornings on Weekdays are Ideal for Bonding
Karla Gallardo, the co-founder of fashion label Cuyana, says it’s all about carving out uninterrupted time with her son, who is now ten months old, every morning. “We have a morning ritual,” she says. “He gets up at 7 a.m., and we spend an hour and a half talking about nothing but him. We usually prepare breakfast together (he has wooden toys that match the ingredients we use to make his breakfast). We also read books, sing songs, and play the guitar. It energizes me for the day ahead, and it allows us to bond when I’m in a good mood. I leave for work at 8:30 a.m.!” You’ll start your workday on a high note if you get up a little earlier to spend time with your family. Plus, you’ll know you’ve already spent some quality time together if something comes up at work later in the day.