Babies are born wired to bond and form close attachments. Many mothers fall in love with their babies early in their pregnancy and they’re ready to bond with them as soon as they’re born. Dads bond too, as they hold their new baby close to their chest, look into their tiny eyes and change their nappies.

Here’s a list of practical things that each person in the family can do to nurture a strong and healthy attachment with a new addition.

1. Love

Express love and kindness in lots of different ways with:

  • a warm tone of voice
  • eye contact
  • smiles
  • loving words
  • gentleness
  • fun treats
  • cuddles when they want them

2. Respond

Respond as quickly as possible to needs, distress and cries for help.

3. Soothe

Comfort when they’re sad by:

  • listening
  • holding
  • rocking
  • singing

4. Attention

Spending one-to-one time, doing the things they enjoy the most.

In this interview, psychologist Collett Smart shares simple ideas for spending one-on-one time with children.

5. Warm acceptance

Accept with smiles and open arms, especially when they had an accident or when something doesn’t go to plan—and helping them to put it right again.

6. Forgiveness

Forgive quickly, so they know they are still loved, even though they’ve made a mistake.

7. Protection

Make sure they feel safe from harm and being there for them when they feel afraid.

8. Respect

Treat them with respect and not tease, shame, put down or laugh at them. Explain new situations in advance, so they’re prepared for what is likely to happen.

9. Cherish

Let them know that they’re special and treasured by each person in the family, and that they bring them joy:

  • “We’re so glad you’re our son/daughter.”
  • “Being your mum makes my heart feel so happy.”
  • “We’re really glad we chose you and you came to live with us!”

10. Encourage

Encouraging them through the different challenges in their life by supporting them, teaching them new skills and making practise fun.

11. Appreciate

Thanking them whenever they do something helpful and letting them know when they make good choices.

Free printable

Print a copy to remind yourself how best to react to and bond with your child.

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