The importance of bonding with multiple caregivers in developing a child’s sense of security and self-esteem has been getting more attention in research in recent years.
Who could offer a more natural extension of family ties than grandmom or grandpa? Many grandparents are gushy about their impending arrival and can’t wait to be all over that baby! I was so excited the first time I saw and held LoveBird that I understood for the first time what my grandmother meant when she used to say “I could eat you up!”
For some grandparents, however, establishing the bond with grandbaby can be elusive. Distance, time and having been out of the parenting mode for sometime are a couple of the reasons that some grandparents might feel a bit queasy about how to go about bonding with the new addition. Additionally, family relationships and lifestyle may also hinder the process.
Here are some ways for parents and grandparents alike to make the bonding process easier, happier and more likely to foster a lasting relationship between grandparent and child:
Being in the delivery room.
Not for everyone, but for families who are comfortable with this, it can be an amazing experience to witness the miracle of birth. Just make sure that everyone is aligned as to who is and is not included for the event.
Brush up on neonatal and infant development.
A lot has been learned about human development in the early months over the last generation. Understanding a baby’s “sense”- abilities at different stages of growth can clue you in to what to do to make a lasting impression:
Sight – newborns CAN see – their best sight distance is 8” – 14″, so get in close to grab her attention.
Touch – touch is the most important sense after birth. It is first developed in the womb. Stroking or light rubbing stimulates baby to smile more, cry less and make more eye contact.
Smell – babies have been shown to have the ability to distinguish their own mother’s scent. It stands to reason then, that if he is close to anyone else often enough, he will “remember” their scent too. Another great reason to hold baby!
Sound – Talk, Read, Sing or play music – if you forgot the words to all those great lullabies and kids songs your own grandparents sang to you and yours visit this link on grandparents.com.
As they grow, (which you already know happens very fast!) there is something unique about each of us that can become the special gift that is shared with a grandchild. Think about your skills and how they might apply to the relationship. A grandfather I know shares his love of model trains with the grandkids and they just love it!
Connect no matter where you are.
What if you can’t be there very often? While there is no substitute for holding that baby in your arms, communication over time and distance is easier now more than ever (and often free if you have a computer and internet service. When parents keep a baby web page or blog, loved ones can check in and send their own greetings, videos or even have web chats.
Get familiar with communication sites like Skype, and web photo and video sharing on sites like flickr, Picasa or Facebook. I recently stumbled across Wee Web which is private and secure, enables photo sharing, video sharing and more.
Don’t be shy about bonding with your family’s new addition! How do you bond with your grandbaby?