8 Easy Ways to Bond With Your Baby as a Working Mom
There's no denying that working moms miss out on some quality time with their babies—and sometimes evenmilestones—when they're on the job. But that doesn't mean that you can't bond just as strongly with your little one.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 70 percent of moms with children under 18 have a job and 40 percent of moms are the breadwinners in their household, meaning that it's worth mastering the work-and-motherhood balance as early as possible. It's important to create your own rituals for bonding, even if it's just carving out an extra hour per workday. Keep reading to see eight ways you can easily bond with baby, including tips from real-life mom bosses who've been through it.
Turn feedings into quality time
Instead of considering feedings as simply a must-do on your checklist, turn them into one-on-one time with your baby. Not only will your child feel closer since you're satisfying her most basic needs, she'll also enjoy some extra cuddles and being near you. "With my first child, my job was more demanding so I would wake up earlier to nurse in peace," says Ascia Sahar, the blogger behind I Am Ascia. "I knew that most days I would be restricted to pumping, so planning those morning snuggles brought me joy."
Make bath time special
At first, baths are used to calm your little one down before bedtime. But it's also a great time to see how your baby is growing as well as an opportunity to introduce sights, smells, and movements that are crucial to development. Toss in a few bath toys that will show off new shapes and colors and talk to your child in a calming voice to explain what he is seeing: "This is the color red" or "This shape is a square." To further make bath time a ritual to look forward to, add in some a baby wash that lathers up to make a bubble bath. Pop a few bubbles in the air and your little one won't want to get out of the tub.
Personalize story time
Even though your child won't be able to understand the words you're saying while you're reading or telling a story, she will still feel close to you. When your baby listens to your voice making expressive sounds, it fosters her emotional development. (Plus, children who listen to more words have a better vocabulary by the time they're two). To kick reading time up a notch, make up a story that revolves around your child or order a custom storybook starring them as the lead character.
Use skin-to-skin contact
Skin-to-skin contact makes baby feel comfortable and helps regulate body temperature and heart rate (after all, their first nine months of development were spent very close to mom). And although this type of contact, known as kangaroo care, is key directly after birth—to make sure Baby is exposed to the same bacteria as mom and to prevent allergies—it need not stop once you've taken your child home from the hospital. "Do it as long as both Baby and parents enjoy it," says Malika D. Shah, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics and neonatology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "When your baby starts fussing and trying to get off of your chest, it's a good sign it's time to let her do her own thing."
Share activities important to you
One of the absolute best ways to have fun with your child is to bond over something you enjoy. For Lauren Kleban, founder of fitness method LEKfit, it's been all about dance when it comes to bonding with her two children over the years (they're now three and five). "I've found that sharing the things that I am most passionate about with both of my children, like music, dance, and fitness, really helps us bond," she says. "I live for our daily dance parties." Take a page from Kleban's book and set up your own mini "dance party" with your child once a week. Twirl them around in your arms while listening to some favorite songs. Similarly, if you like to paint or draw, set them up nearby while you engage in that activity, or sing to them if you're interested in music.
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Give your baby a massage
Like kangaroo care, an infant massage will spark feelings of attachment that Baby will have for you. You can try this during bath time or right before bed to lull your little one asleep, but really any moment together will do. Use your fingertips to rub your child's arms, legs, or back. The movements you use should be very gentle with little pressure. If you have any questions or concerns about the proper technique, be sure to consult your pediatrician.
Hold Baby in a front carrier or sling
Making memorable moments with your little one can be done simply as you're doing life together, whether running errands or just walking around your home. By carrying baby in a front carrier, it allows you to not only make eye contact, but it keeps them close to you so they can familiarize themselves with your scent. You can mimic their faces by smiling if they smile or by speaking to them if they start to coo. These will be the first stages of truly "communicating" with your child and they will be unforgettable.
Use weekday mornings for bonding
For fashion brand Cuyana's co-founder Karla Gallardo, it's all about carving out uninterrupted time every morning with her son, who is now ten months old. "Mornings are a ritual for us," she says. "He wakes up at 7 a.m. and we spend an hour and a half where I only focus on him. Normally, we cook breakfast together (he has wooden toys that match the ingredients we use to make his breakfast). We also sing songs, play the guitar, and read books. It energizes me for the day ahead, and we can bond when I have a fresh mindset. At 8:30, I jet off to work!" By waking up a bit earlier to spend time together, you're starting your work day out on a high note. Plus, if something comes up at the office later in the day, you'll know you already got in some quality time together.