Thursday, September 19, 2013

Five Things I Did Right: Nurturing Your Relationship with Your Child from the Start

This post is brought to you by Boba.
You'll never know the depth of the love and fierceness you are capable of as a woman until you have your first baby. When that new little person is being brought forth into the world, two new people are actually being born: a baby and a mother. Being born together gives you and your little one a unique bond to begin with. But how do you stay connected as your baby grows older?

As my husband and I start thinking about the possibility of a second baby, I've been doing a lot of thinking about what we did right with our son. While a lot of early parenting is admittedly accidental, there are five particular things I started doing with my kid early on that helped nurture our relationship as well as his growth into a confident, articulate, well adjusted boy. This is my own advice to myself for baby 2 as well as first time moms feeling overwhelmed by long lists of do's and don'ts.

Sing and Dance
This actually started before my son was born. When I was pregnant, there was a song out by Michael Buble that felt like was my song for my baby. I would dance around in the nursery with my belly singing him our song while I did baby prep. After my son was born, I'd dance around with him in the baby wrap. Of course we dance to more songs than just Michael's. Even now, my son loves dancing together. When there is a song on that he likes, he'll beg me to get up and dance with him so he can teach me his dance moves.

Bring Him Along
From early on, K went where I went. I'm not just talking outside of our home. If I was doing laundry, he was doing laundry. This was made possible early on by having a high quality baby wrap. He was snuggled in close to me. I was getting stuff done. As he got stronger, he could look around more and watch me. As he got older and outgrew the wrap, we moved to a heavy duty hiking backpack with a hip belt. Even now that he's outgrown both of those, we does what I do. If I'm working, he'll get out his Batman laptop and "work" along with me. If I'm cooking, he wants to help. Working in the garden? Him, too. Spending time together doing day-to-day things not only gives us a way to connect with each other but teaches him valuable life skills.

It can admittedly feel a little weird to talk to your baby - especially when they don't talk back. In addition to English, we incorporated American Sign Language for key words like milk, mommy, daddy, please, more, eat, water, etc. into our daily routine. It is amazingly freeing to have your nine month old tell you he wants milk (in ASL) instead of just crying at you and hoping you guess what he wants. Giving your child skills to communicate in a helpful way will serve them for a lifetime. This, of course, goes beyond sign language. Be intentional with teaching your child how to communicate. It builds their confidence, reduces frustration and helps the two of you enjoy your time together more.

Babies should be snuggled as often as possible. Babies need to be snuggled as often as possible. Develop snuggling routines. From early on, right after a bath, we would wrap K in a towel and snuggle to keep him warm and help him dry. Even now as a big boy, K gets out of the bath, wraps himself in a towel and requests snuggles before getting his jammies on. Snuggle together while reading bedtime stories. Snuggle for 5 minutes first thing in the morning. Your kids won't want to snuggle forever but having that point of physical contact and closeness helps you connect with your kid in a unique way. Incorporate snuggles into your life as long as your children will tolerate it.

Mealtime Bonding
Whether you are nursing or bottle feeding your infant, use mealtime as a chance to bond with your kid instead of playing candy crush or watching TV. Establish early on that mealtimes are times to be together and connect. While you may not be able to do it at every mealtime, try to do it at least once a day. Make at least one meal a day a chance to chat and catch up instead of just a necessary thing to get through. Start it as a habit now and continue even as you child becomes old enough to join you at the table.

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It's full of great articles, ideas, products and more that I'll want to remember for our next child. I know you'll love the things I've pinned.

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Carissa's Creativity Space ( became Creative Green Living in February 2013. As such the watermarks on many of our old posts may reflect the previous site name.