Just The Two Of Us

Five great ways to bond with your baby.


When it comes to mother-child 
bonding, embrace what comes 

Simple activities, such as a 
post-bath foot rub or playing where's-your-bellybutton, not only establish 
a lifelong foundation of love and 
trust, they also help your child's brain 
develop. Here are five activities for you and your baby to do together:

Massage Choose a time when the 
baby is calm but alert. A light yet firm 
touch is best, says Martine Groeneveld, 
R.N., a Los Angeles-based certified 
infant massage instructor and author 
of 2009's Mommy Draw Stars on My 
Belly: Rhymes, Songs and Touch-Play 
Activities to Stay Connected. (Press gently 
on your closed eyelid to gauge how 
much pressure to use.) Feet and legs 
are a great place to start, keeping in 
mind that the tummy should be massaged in clockwise strokes to help 
digestion and the head shouldn't be 
massaged until the fontanel (soft spot) has closed, at around 12 months. 

Singing Being able to warble 
"Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" may 
stave off fussiness in the car or soothe 
bedtime from birth onward. Around 
9 months old, your baby can join in—quacking to "Old MacDonald" or clap
ping along with "Wheels on the Bus." 

Talking Narrate the activities you 
do together ("Now we'll change your 
diaper") to attune your baby to language. Once your baby begins to crawl, 
use words that describe new experiences. ("The grass feels cool.") Studies 
have shown that simple questions 
("Where's your ball?") increase brain 
activity and cognition, says Natalie 
Robinson Garfield, a New York City-
based psychotherapist who holds a 
degree in infant/toddler development. 
Don't, however, ask rapid-fire questions or overload your child with choices.

Playing Those first flirty coos morph 
into games like peekaboo by 6 months 
old. For babies around a year, Karyn 
Siegel-Maier, author of 2009's Happy 
Baby, Happy You: 500 Ways to Nurture 
the Bond with Your Baby, recommends 
setting up couch cushions and draped 
blankets as an obstacle course, with mom waiting at the end as a reward. 

Reading Few activities provide such 
enduring benefits. You can start from birth, but babies will really engage once 
they can sit upright in your lap and 
study the pictures. Choose board books 
with bright, simple pictures, for starters, 
and make it interactive ("woof" for the 
dog). As your child grows (9 months and 
older), choose stories connected to new 
experiences; a story about winter, for example, after seeing snow fall.