Three Ways to Bond With Your Adopted Infant

For some adoptive parents and infants, bonding comes almost instantaneously. For others it takes a while. After all, you have all these expectations for your adopted infant. Perhaps you've gone through rounds and rounds of fertility treatment, the adoption home study process and months or even years of waiting. You have in your mind the picture of the perfect infant whom you will bond to instantly.

If this instant bond does not occur, whether on your part, or the baby's part, don't worry. It will happen. Here are some suggestions for bonding with your infant:

  1. Baby wearing: I was not a big fan of baby-wearing until I adopted my baby who had reflux and had to be held upright all the time. I started out wearing her in a Snuggie/Baby Bjorn type carrier until the neonatologist told me it wasn't good for a baby's legs, particularly a preemie. I switched to a ring-type sling and we both loved it! I wore her everywhere. I cleaned, did laundry, took her on outings and her favorite - ran the vacuum cleaner. It was, and still is (at age two and a half) the best and easiest way to get her to sleep. It also helped us bond and continues to be our special time together. The other day she got our current sling (which is a Mai Tai) and wanted me to put it on her so she could carry her baby in it. She looked so cute and it's definitely a testament to "Babies learn what they live."

  2. Singing and Talking with your baby: I sang and talked with my baby all the time, particularly while she was in the sling, and it really helped to bond us. Babies don't care if you have a perfect voice. They only care that it's your voice. Our daughter had to go back into the step-down NICU for a month when she was six weeks old. When she was in the hospital for a month the NICU parent liaison had us record ourselves singing and reading to her and played the C.D. when we were not there.

  3. Sleep with the infant's clothes and blankets: While in the hospital, we began sleeping with her sleepers and blankets before taking them in. Then we would take them in and put them on her and make her bed up to be more like home. It seems like this might not be very sanitary but the NICU encouraged it to promote bonding. Babies are very attuned to scent and it was important for her blankets and clothes to smell like her parents and her house, not a sterile hospital smell. This can be done at home as well. She would much rather have her blankets smell like you than laundry detergent.

Initial bonding came easy for my daughter and I but the above methods helped solidify our bond into a lifelong attachment.