Babies are one of life’s treasures. A simple ‘coo’ or smile can make your heart flutter. However, learning how to create a bond with a new baby can be challenging for a nanny, especially when you have older children to care for as well.
Simple strategies that will bring the two of you closer can set the stage for a nurturing relationship that is fulfilling for both you, as the nanny, and the new baby.
One of the best ways to build a bond with a new baby is to practice mindfulness while holding the baby, says Gina Hassan, a licensed clinical psychologist in the San Francisco Bay area. “Next time you are holding the baby in your arms, whether he is sleeping or simply cuddled up against your body, pay attention to all of the ways in which you can sense the baby in the present moment,” she says. “Pay full attention to how he smells and how his skin feels to the temperature you sense as your skin makes contact with his.”
Notice the color and texture of his skin and hair and listen to the sound and rhythm of his breathing. “Experiencing the baby in this way can bring feelings of both wonder and deepen your sense of closeness,” says Hassan.
The Pillars of Positive Parenting
According to Tammy Gold, psychotherapist and parenting coach with Gold Parent Coaching, the five pillars of positive parenting can help nannies bond with new babies.
The five pillars include touch, talk, sing, smile and play, says Gold. “If you could do any one of these, it is helpful and a proven way to bond with a child,” she says. “You cannot show enough positive affection to a baby.”
Practicing the five pillars of positive parenting can also build the trust between a nanny and a new baby. “The development stage for a baby is ‘trust versus mistrust,’” says Gold. “Parents and nannies need to build trust by holding them and responding to their needs by talking, touching, singing, smiling and playing so they are interacting with the baby and showing affection. Studies show that this does wonders for a child’s cognitive development.”
Playfulness Leads to Bonding Relationships
The more you play with your new baby in ways that provide affection and attention, the more a new baby will begin to crave the nurturing you can provide as a nanny. If you are the one to comfort the tears and soothe the baby when she cries, the association between the comforter and the baby builds a connection, says Dr. Kate Roberts, licensed child psychologist and family therapist.
Providing gentle words that soothe a distressed baby will help strengthen the bond between the two of you. “Studies have shown that babies can know who is talking to them and a newborn will be more familiar and bonded to those voices,” says Roberts.
Take the opportunity to take part in nighttime feedings if you are caring for the child full-time as a live-in nanny. “Nighttime often produces the worst gas or more hunger for a baby and it can be the hardest time to calm him down,” says Roberts. “Be there and he will bond under the stress of getting through the hard time with you.”
Even though diaper duty is a little smelly, it also offers the opportunity for you to bond with the baby. “You get to talk to him and be part of an intimate process,” says Roberts. Try and entertain the little one, too, by making silly faces or playing peek-a-boo during changes to keep the mood positive.
Music and dancing will not only lighten the mood, but also help you bond with a new baby. “Babies like to move and dance,” says Roberts. “Babies are often stimulated by music and most babies love being jiggled about.”
Be in Tune
In addition to games, smiles and mindfulness, one of the best ways to bond with a new baby is to just be in tune with him. “Have you ever looked into his eyes and smiled at a baby because he turned his face hopefully toward you or laughed because he laughed?” asks Ekanem Ebinne, parenting expert and founder of The Musical Parent. “Being aware of and responding to your baby’s unique non-verbal cues is called attunement.”
According to Ebinne, experts count parental attunement as the foundation of a young child’s developing capacity to watch, listen and learn how to respond to social cues from other people. “Lucky for you, attunement is also how he learns to soothe himself,” she says. “You’ve been teaching the child the most important of all human languages – socio-emotional literacy.”