Simple Ideas for Building Bonds with Babies & Infants

This blog post is a summary of the key ideas shared by Pooky in her on demand course ‘Build Bonds with Babies and Infants’

Bond building with babies and infants takes time effort and energy, but the rewards are so worthwhile.  Children who create secure attachments and feel truly safe and happy when with one or more of their caregivers are far more likely to thrive in life and learning. 

Meet your own needs first

In order to be the adult that a child needs us to be, we need to look after our own needs first.  That can be easier said than done, but in this module I explore why the basics of our own physical and emotional wellbeing must be looked after if we’re able to look after the needs of others. 

  • We and our babies have the same basic needs
  • Selfcare isn’t selfish
  • The importance of sleep and rest
  • Resting and resetting in snatches
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder?

Enable a feeling of safety

It’s not just about creating an environment that’s literally physically safe, it’s about how a child actually feels.  Being predictable and consistent make a huge difference here as do responding swiftly to upset and challenge.  

  • Setting clear expectations and sticking to them
  • Creating a predictable and consistent world for babies and infants
  • Safety comes in many forms: physical, emotional, social and cognitive
  • It starts with us…

Make small moments special

Any moment can become a moment of bonding if we focus in on it.  How we eat, go to sleep or even change nappies is worth considering because creating fun, routine and rituals during these activities can be perfect, regular little moments of bond building. 

  • Consider small changes to frequent activities
  • Don’t worry about looking silly, babies love silly! 
  • Sing or talk or sign or show all the things you are doing as you do them
  • How can we flip feelings on ‘time consuming’ and consider it ‘time invested’? 

Pay attention and turn take

The quality of the time that you spend with small children is far more important than the amount of time that you spend with them.  It is possible to spend hours and hours physically present whilst remaining completely emotionally distant.   

  • Quality trumps quantity of interaction
  • Make the child the centre of your world – even if only briefly
  • Turn take even before they are able to converse
  • Consider their physical position to try to maximise engagement 

Touch them, hold them and be present

Touch is a really important sense for babies and infants, and throughout our lifetime, feeling physically and emotionally held by someone we trust is something that will bring us great comfort.  Find ways to build touch into your interactions and allow time to enjoy those moments of closeness. 

  • Build touch and tickles into games and nursery rhymes
  • Being held and hugged releases ‘happy hormones’ – a great medicine! 
  • Run towards their distress, remain physically and emotionally present
  • Show unconditional care by just being and staying near if a baby can’t be held

Tune into feelings

There is so much about the world that babies and infants need to learn and beginning to understand their own feelings and the feelings of others is high on the list.  We can begin to build the emotional literacy of babies and infants from day one by talking aloud about our feelings and theirs.  In time this will help them to understand both themselves and others and it will enable them to feel seen, heard and understood by you too. 

  • Name your feelings, and try to name theirs too
  • Exaggerate facial expressions, body language and sign to show feelings
  • If we are trying to soothe or solve, go through the process out loud
  • Explore a range of feelings without judgement or fear

Laugh, learn and have fun together

One of the best things you can do with a baby or infant is to play with them.  Little ones learn a huge amount through play either independently or with a trusted adult.  Try to see things through their eyes and make things fun.  All sorts of moments are a chance to play and learn, look for these moments where you can.

  • Be silly, have fun, dance like nobody is watching 
  • Be led by laughter
  • It’s easier to spend more time engaging in activities you actually enjoy
  • Extraordinary ordinary moments

Further Resources

Build Bonds with Babies and Infants – on demand course

Water Play: Learning Opportunities in EYFS