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Showing posts with label 7 Baby B's of Bonding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 7 Baby B's of Bonding. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bonding with Baby

"When a child walks in the room, your child or anybody else’s child, do your eyes light up? That’s what they’re looking for." Toni Morrison

Not long after my husband and I brought our newborn son home from the hospital, I was breastfeeding on the couch watching an “Oprah Winfrey Show” segment on the Nobel Prize-winning poetic genius Toni Morrison.  She mentioned the importance of loving connections between parents and children by uttering this quote and parenting challenge. 

Jonathan Fitch, FreeDigitalPhotos.net
It was easy for me to gaze upon my newborn boy with loving, lit up eyes in those early days and months.  I was, at the time, blissfully unaware of the complicated hormonal soup we were all swimming in together. Instinctively responsive as I was to my son's face shape, button nose, and round captivating eyes, I was unaware of how our intense mutual gazes were actually causing endorphin levels to rise in us both.  Endorphin release produces feelings of joy, love, and euphoria associated with ensuring healthy development.  My son's eyes rewarded me biochemically and my visual and nurturing motor responses quickly conditioned to his proximity seeking cues (particularly at around eight weeks when visual acuity improves and a critical period of visual cortex development occurs).  By three months, my son's gazes and smiles showed me his interest in play, his cries and disengagement of attention his disinterest. 

Bonding with my baby seemed intuitive, if not an overwhelming responsibility to do the whole thing “right.”   I was not only led by the zeitgeist at the time “attachment parenting,” but sometimes succumbed to the guilt-inducing messages of some of its followers.  I stressed about the family bed, how long to breastfeed, and the impact of my frustration with the fact that my son didn’t sleep through the night until he was three!  Still, I'm grateful I trusted my gut, imitated what I knew to be true about a healthy mother-infant bond, and followed the attachment parenting advice that fit.  It wasn't easy, but nothing as worthwhile and important as bonding ever is.