Preparing for Your Greatest Gift: Bonding Before Birth
One of the most exciting parts of the holidays is the anticipation: We look forward to gathering together with family and friends, exchanging gifts, sharing conversations and favorite meals across the table and, of course, sharing joy.
Anticipation is also one of the best parts of preparing for the arrival of one of life’s sweetest gifts, your baby.
Even before you cradle your new boy or girl in your arms, you and your baby are inextricably linked. So there’s no need to wait until birth to grow your bond with your baby. Here are some ideas for bonding with your greatest gift, especially over the holidays:
Share the Fa-La-La-La-Love through songs
Starting around 18 weeks, your baby’s sense of hearing develops and from about 25-26 weeks of pregnancy onward, your baby can hear and respond to sounds outside the womb. Music is an excellent conduit for emotion, so share your favorite holiday tunes with your little one. It doesn’t matter how off-key you are, it’s your voice that your baby will recognize and find engaging from the start.
Start bedtime stories early
Reading to your child not only fosters healthy development and an early appreciation for books and storytelling, it also builds a strong bond between parents and child. Though hearing sounds begins earlier, from about 30 weeks of pregnancy, your baby can actually begin to absorb language. Start a routine of bedtime stories and take turns with your partner reading to your baby. You can choose your favorite childhood stories or check out this list of 100 classic children’s books from the New York Public Library.
Eat and drink mindfully
As you share traditional or celebratory meals with family and friends, remember that you’re sharing them with your baby, too. What does he or she seem to respond to? Does your baby seem especially active after a certain meal or sweet treat? These will be wonderful memories to share with him or her as they grow – and perhaps he or she will even continue to love the same foods during childhood!
Create your own traditions
The holidays involve so many traditions that unite our extended families and communities during these special times – think about starting your own traditions for your growing family. You could trace the outline of your baby’s hand from an ultrasound photo to start a DIY handprint tree skirt (there are lots of design ideas on Pinterest!) to fill with growing hands over the coming years. Or perhaps start a tradition of writing predictions for the New Year and sealing them in an envelope to open a year later – what do you imagine you and your baby will do and become over the next year?
Commemorate this time together
Every moment that you carry your child is precious and the holidays add one more layer of love. Whether through photos, journals, or a handmade keepsake, find a way to commemorate this special holiday season of anticipating your baby’s arrival into the world. You can journal a note to your baby describing your feelings into the cover of a children’s book. Make or decorate ornaments or decorations for your baby with your partner, older siblings or family members. Taking the time to do something as simple or as complex as you would like will also give you time to reflect on and cherish this priceless phase of life.
Jennifer Stutzman, Freelance Writer
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