By connecting with your baby, I mean the activity that creates a bond between you and your baby. Breast-feeding, baby wearing and co-sleeping are all activities that promote bonding, but when I talk about connecting, I mean the bonding that happens whilst you are both awake and alert. Connecting with your baby happens mostly through talking, listening, singing, gesturing, pointing and exchanging facial expressions. It is a proper two-way thing.
Connecting with your baby will create an emotional bond and trust. There are many scientific studies which have looked at the mysterious bond that still affects us as adults even though it was formed in our first year of life when we were too young to remember any of it. Psychologist call it attachment theory. Most books and articles I have read on the topic explain what it is, but don’t say how to create this bond.
My suggestion is to build it through play.
At two months, your baby can’t sit up. Your baby won’t be able to hold a toy. So, at this stage play is definitely not about toys. Even as babies gets older, they will often prefer to play with you rather than a toy. In early babyhood toys are just substitutes for interacting you.
So what is play? Play is anything that makes your baby laugh or smile or if he is too young for that, maybe he will show his delight by waving his arms or kicking his legs a bit faster.
It really helps to understand your baby’s limitations. Everyone knows that a baby can’t talk or walk, but fewer parents know for example that your baby’s eye sight is 8000 times weaker at birth than it is at 6 months. Being equipped with such useful knowledge, means you can choose a way of connecting with your baby that relies less on sight and more on senses that are already fully developed.
At two months the senses that are best developed in your baby are touch and hearing (as well as taste and smell, but these are not helpful in this context). So, the best way to connect with your baby is through touch and sound.
I will write a separate post on touch because it is so important, but for now I want to concentrate on sound.
To find the best way to connect with your baby through sound, think about how you can use your voice to make it more interesting for your baby to listen too.
All babies respond to what I call uppy-downy talk (some psychologist call it parentese). Or you could sing. You might not think you have a great singing voice, but your baby is likely to love it when you sing. Try singing short lullabies or nursery rhymes first, observe your baby and if he likes it do some more of the same.
The same goes for talking in an uppy-downy way. Keep it short, observe and carry on if your baby responds to it. If you baby joins in at any point with a gurgle or a grunt, that’s fantastic. Stop talking and listen. If your baby feels like you understand, despite the obvious limitations with language, he will want to do more of that.
Another important point about stopping and listening when your baby makes even the slightest deliberate noise is that this is the beginning of turn taking. Listen so your baby talks. After many months of doing this your baby will understand when he “talks” you listen and when you talk he will listen.
Great communication with your baby is not something that just happens. It is not simply a result of your baby getting older. It doesn’t begin when your baby starts talking. It starts much earlier than that.
Small babies have a limited ability to show their happiness. Waving arms and kicking legs are signs of happiness you can easily observe when your baby is unrestricted next to you on a cosyplay mat. The more comfortable and relaxed you are whilst playing with your baby the more likely you are to pick up every little sign your baby is sending you. A great basis for connecting with your baby.