Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Bond of Love through the Five Senses

As soon as a mother lifts her child in her arms for the very first cuddle, the process of bonding starts between her and her infant. The newborn baby is too young to communicate with the loving mom via speech or utterances. But even at this stage, the baby's five senses work well enough to internalize the maternal love pouring in on him/her. Through this sensory adventure, the baby feels the closeness of the mother's touch; identifies the motherly scent; hears the sound promising love and safety; looks into the welcoming eyes; and gets the first taste of mom's breast milk. As a mother, you can do several things, even as early as this, to make a strong bond with your baby by communication through the five senses. All you need to do is interact with your baby for 30 seconds at a time. Following ideas show you how to enrich your experience with your baby.

The Magic Touch of Love

Touch is vital to the bond between a mom and her baby. It is the direct means of physical closeness, bringing warmth and sense of security to both the child and the mother. The familiar maternal touch is the primary source of the baby's comfort. Handling the baby also boosts the mother's confidence and this aspect of touch is especially important for first-time mothers. Some research studies show that premature babies thrive from the skin-to-skin contact while they lie against their mother's chest. As a mom, you can set aside some peaceful time to hold your baby against your skin and enjoy the feelings closeness. A good time for this is after the baby's morning feed while you are still lying in bed. Your cuddles soothe your child when he/she is feeling fretful. In colicky condition, a very gentle massage on the abdomen helps to bring up the accumulated gas and bring relief to the child.

The Mother's Scent

The newborn infant is strongly sensitive to smell and recognizes your scent before starting to see your face. Studies show that babies as young as six days old can recognize the scent of their mom's milk, also distinguishing it from the milk of other women. A particular object of comfort to children is often soothing because of the mother's smell it carries. As the babies get older, they start wishing the comforting object with the mother’s smell be not washed. To use this sense of smell for stronger maternal-infant bonding, you can cuddle your baby up in a baby blanket and use the same one to tuck her in when he/she takes a nap. While parting with your young infant for a while, give the caregiver a piece of clothing that you have worn recently and that still bears your smell.

The Baby's Listening Sense

Researchers are now of the opinion that an infant becomes familiar with the mother's voice while still in the womb. Unborn babies have been reported to move in response to noise. Within three days of birth, a baby will turn his/her head upon hearing the mother's voice. However, the same baby will show no response to another woman's voice. Many people tend to talk in a higher-pitched voice to babies and this appears to be more stimulating for a baby than ordinary tone. So you can talk to your baby, regardless of what you actually say. Give the baby space to reply, answering for him/her yourself. Gradually, you will see, the baby pouts his/her lips in reply. Later the baby shows bubbles and gurgles. At about five to six months of age, the baby will usually display a smile at hearing your voice and even kick his/her legs. While talking to a baby, look at his/her face since it facilitates the process of verbal response easier. You may also give your baby some light music, rhythmic preferably, provided that the baby is in a lively mood. Avoid overwhelming the child with noise.

Taste

Babies are instinctively fond of the sweet taste of mom's breast milk. The baby shows natural rooting for the nipple i.e. opening his/her mouth and turn toward the mother's breast when brought near to it. While feeding your hungry baby, position yourself such that your face is exactly at the right distance from the baby's so that he/she can see you.

Mother in View

The baby can clearly see at birth, the eyes focus of the newborn being 20 to 25 cm, approximately the distance from your face to your breast. Now it makes perfect sense to assume that the breastfeeding process is a natural phenomenon that links all the five senses in a complete loving whole. The baby, while getting her natural food, learns to recognize your face which is at the right distance from his/her eyes. The baby also learns to imitate the mother's facial gestures by the age of two to three weeks.

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