Most parents bond with their newborn immediately after birth, and it is a natural occurrence to many parents. However, what many might not know is how essential such bonding is for a newborn, and how it impacts a child’s life.
Bonding is the first intimate relationship for the newborn and it aids the development of cognitive functions as well as social skills. It is the bedrock for good mental health for a newborn. It also promotes self-esteem and helps instil a sense of security.
Surprisingly, bonding is something that most newborns are born ready to engage in. It is the parents who vary in terms of their readiness to engage in that bond. Many types of research have shown parents feeling underwhelmed emotionally especially during the early stages of the birth of the newborn. Some may even find it difficult to make eye contact with their baby. Rest assured, it usually happens naturally in most cases. Contrary to popular belief, bonding is not a miraculous one-time event that occurs at the moment of birth, but a process that requires time and patience. Nonetheless, in most cases, it occurs naturally.
It is recommended for newborns to feel securely bonded by the age of 2 at the latest. This is to avoid causing severe developmental delays to occur in your baby’s brain. Bonding amongst others involves newborns relying on their parents for their basic needs to be met. It also involves their parents providing love and care over a period of time. For example, newborns do not in fact know what they are crying about. They cry only knowing that something is wrong. They lack the ability to identify the problem that needs solving, and this is why a newborn needs to have his or her parents there to rely on. This is what bonding is all about – LOVE AND CARE!
So you might be thinking, “how does this relate to the brain?” Well, the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for social skills, commences development when the newborn is around 6 months old. If the newborn receives insufficient attention, the prefrontal cortex does not develop and may not EVER fully grow. This can cause relationship and behavioural problems later in life because the prefrontal cortex of the brain also controls impulse, emotion, reasoning, planning as well as judgment, amongst others. Neglecting a newborn by leaving him or her to scream and cry can also damage his or her immune system. This is caused by an increased level of cortisol, which is a stress hormone.
It is important to understand that such bonding can instil in a newborn a sense of goodness in the world. It has been suggested by studies that this sense of goodness is retained by the newborn for life. Bonding will also allow a child to regulate his or her feelings later in life, and have the emotional capacity to deal with ups and downs in life.