Despite our very best intentions and efforts, sometimes breastfeeding doesn’t work out.
When this happens, some mothers feel a sense of loss of the breastfeeding relationship – they feel that they have lost a special closeness or bonding opportunity that comes only with breastfeeding.
Research has found that breastfeeding releases oxytocin (also known as the ‘love' hormone) in the mother's brain, and scientists believe this helps breastfeeding mothers to bond with their babies. While you may not experience this specific oxytocin release as a formula-feeding mother, there are plenty of other things you can do to reinforce the bond with your baby.
Here are 6 great ways that bottlefeeding mothers bond with their baby — no boobs needed:
#1: Making Feeding A One Woman Job
Breastfeeding mothers spend as many as eight hours a day feeding their newborns. That's eight hours of cuddles, caresses and skin-to-skin. Take control of the feeding, so that you spend this time with your baby too. Friends and family members may offer to feed the baby for you, but you can decline their offers and explain that it is important bonding time with your newborn.
#2: Enjoying A Quiet Meal
To make the most of each feed, take your baby into a quiet room so that you can enjoy some calm time together. Babies are easily overwhelmed, and you may find that your baby appreciates the quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of visitors. By taking yourself away from busy areas, you may find you are more likely to talk to and engage with your feeding baby.
#3: Holding Baby Close
Hold your baby at chest level, with his head supported by the crook of your arm, as you would if you were breastfeeding. A newborn baby has limited sight, but can see your face when held at your breast. This allows breastfed babies to bond with their mothers, so make the most of this by holding your baby close during bottle feeds.
#4: Stripping Off For Some Skin To Skin
Skin to skin contact is a great way to bond with your new baby. As well as a host of other benefits, it also aids digestion and may help your baby to absorb the nutrients from his milk better. Just one hour of skin to skin each day can have huge benefits for your baby. Skin to skin contact helps your baby to regulate his own body temperature, as well as reducing stress in your baby.
Jumping in a nice warm bath together, or snuggling up in bed make for some beautiful skin-to-skin moments.
#5: Making Eye Contact
While you're feeding your newborn, chances are he's gazing up at you with his beautiful big eyes. So, put your phone away, tear your eyes away from the television, and spend some time interacting with your baby through the simple but effective medium of eye contact. You don't have to stare him out through every feed of the day, but taking some time to return his eye contact will help you to bond.
#6: Really Paying Attention To Your Baby
As well as eye contact, you can talk and sing to your baby. It doesn't matter that he won't yet understand what you're saying, he loves hearing your voice. And no matter how terrible you are at singing, he will love hearing you. Your baby recognises your voice from when he was in utero, as a newborn he knew where you were by following the sound of your voice. Your voice and your heartbeat are two of the most comforting sounds to him, so hold him close and talk to him while you give him his bottle.
#7: Sniffing Your Baby's Head
Yes, sniffing your baby's head… it's a mother's favourite past time! There's a reason why you love it so much — it creates oxytocin, from the minute they were born. Not that anyone needs to tell you, but keep sniffing your baby's gorgeous head. We know you love it already, so we're sure you wont forget!
Also see BellyBelly's article Bottle Nursing – 6 Steps To Better Bottle Feeding.