I’ve heard nursing helps moms and babies bond, but I’m not breastfeeding. Are there any ways to connect with my baby while I give her a bottle? Absolutely. Clinical psychologist Shoshana Bennett, PhD, reminds moms that bonding is a process of familiarity – getting to know each other — that happens over time. And, wonderful bonding can be facilitated no matter how your baby is fed. Here are some ways to make bottle-time a warm and fuzzy experience for both of you.
Don’t multi-task. Give baby your full attention while she feeds, and don't rush her to finish. Let her enjoy the pleasures of snuggling with her favorite person, and let yourself savor this precious time too. What do you think is better for baby bonding – breastfeeding while you look away and speak on the phone or bottle-feeding with your full attention on her?
Get close. If you’re in private, take off or unbutton your shirt — babies love that skin-to-skin connection. Also, try to maintain eye contact. It’s easier to make great eye contact with your baby while bottle-feeding, so take advantage of it. In addition, physical and visual connections are linked to optimum brain development.
Switch midway. Move baby to your other arm halfway through the bottle. Giving her a different perspective on the world provides visual stimulation and encourages development and curiosity. And it gives your shoulder a break.
Don’t prop. It may save you a few minutes, but propping baby up with a bottle wastes potential bonding time. It also increases her risk of choking, ear infections and tooth decay. Share these tips with other caretakers who feed, so they can also make the most of bottle-time.