As is the case with meditation, the act of being present with your child is a form of mindfulness that can start with a few focused minutes a day and grow into longer and more active periods. If you can set aside at least 15 to 30 minutes a day to relax and to be together without interruptions, then you can establish a base of connection.
If you are physically present but distracted with electronic devices, preoccupied with worries, or otherwise mentally absent, then your baby may feel dissatisfied and agitated. You can strengthen your connection during these sessions by making sure all your senses are represented:
I see you; I hear you; I smell you; I touch you; I taste you; I move with you.
Following are some activities that you can use to be present, attuned, and resonant within your relationship with your baby. They require trust, and they also build trust.
Ways to Connect with Your Baby
- Spend one-on-one time together
- Make eye contact
- Cuddle, and hold him close, using skin-to-skin when possible
- Read to him
- Enjoy bath time
- Go for a walk
- Talk and sing with him
- Dance together to music
- Play and laugh together
“Watch, Wait, and Wonder” is a program used in psychotherapy for babies. Developed by Frank Johnson, PhD, Jerome Dowling, MD, and David Wesner, PhD, child psychiatrists working together at the University of Wisconsin, the program gives children the opportunity to use their innate need for attachment to foster the healing process and the development of a healthy attachment relationship.
Even though the program is used for babies with serious emotional problems, it can be very beneficial for addressing smaller problems or for proactively supporting emotional health. Here is how the Watch, Wait, and Wonder method works:
- Start the program as early as four months old, and plan to continue until your child is around four years old.
- Set aside 30 minutes every day.
- Give your full, focused attention to your child by getting on the floor and being present with him.
- Let your child lead the way. Follow his direction as he plays.
This daily time for connection benefits your child in noticeable ways. In general, he will be happier and more enjoyable to be around. He will be more confident and comfortable expressing his creativity and imagination. He will also be more satisfied playing alone, and sibling rivalry will be less of a concern.
Daily time with your baby is a precious gift to you, as well. In his first few years, your baby grows and changes so quickly. As he gets older, you will cherish and appreciate the time you took to connect with your baby and to marvel at his emerging self.