I spent most of the first month of my daughter's life worrying and wondering about bonding with her. My partner and I loved her from the moment we met her in the hospital, but with adoption, bonding and attachment is sort of the holy grail. Over the course of the almost two years that followed, I had a lot of time to rule out the things that definitely aren't ruining your bond with your baby.
I remember the first time a friend commented, while I was feeding my daughter, that she could tell my baby loved me by the way she looked at me. She was about 2 weeks old, so the likelihood of that being reasonable or realistic is probably pretty low, but it was exactly what I needed to hear at the time. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it's what most moms need to hear more often than they might even realize.
There might be things that you could do that would ruin your bond with your baby, but they're a pretty far reach for even the most average moms. Those things you choose not to do because you're worried about your bond with your baby being damaged? They're typically not going to do anything detrimental to the relationship you share with your child, and will, instead and usually, give you the boost of energy you need to strengthen that bond tomorrow.
Feeding Your Baby Formula
I have a 21-month-old daughter who was formula fed for the first 14 months of her life. She currently won't leave my sight for more than 10 seconds without shouting "Mama!" at the top of her lungs just to make sure I haven't moved an inch. We are bonded, through and through and despite me not feeding her with my own breasts.
Taking A Break
I don't think I willingly took a break from my daughter for the first three months of her life, even to let her father take care of her. I was a lunatic about being with her for every moment and it was only when I took a few hours to myself did I realize that recharging actually gave me more energy to be more present with her.
Letting Someone Else Get Up With Your Baby At Night
My partner and I didn't have the help of grandparents for a few months, but when we did I was so reticent to let anyone else get up with my daughter in the middle of the night. You know what? I wish those grandparents had come earlier and more often.
Putting Your Partner In Charge Of Bath Time
Putting your partner in charge of a whole lot more than bath time is not going to impact the bond you have with your kid. In fact, I think it strengthens the bond your baby will have with your partner, and that is an important part of fortifying the overall family dynamic.
Using A Baby Swing
I was that mom who never wanted to put her baby down. My partner and I met our daughter when she was already 3 days old, so I was trying to make up for lost time for, well, about three months. As a result, I didn't want her in the baby swing unless I desperately had to pee and my partner wasn't going to be home anytime soon.
Then I realized I was smothering her and she needed a freaking break from me, and I her, and gladly put her in the swing to get some necessary rest and relaxation.
Putting Your Baby In The Care Of Others
Having someone other than yourself take care of your baby will not ruin the bond you have with your baby. I was petrified that putting our daughter in day care when she was 15 months old would ruin the bond we had worked so hard to forge. It didn't. If anything, we were even more inseparable during the time we had together, and that time was much more intentional than it had been in the previous months.
Deciding Not To Bed-Share
Because our daughter was technically a foster baby until her adoption was finalized after six months, we weren't allowed to bed-share. Luckily, we were able to room-share (another form of co-sleeping), and it was the perfect compromise for all of us.
Even sleep training that involves crying it out does not, I repeat does not, negatively impact your bond with your baby. Done poorly, of course, there will be negative consequences, but following basic recommendations from sleep experts, it doesn't hurt the bond you have with your baby. My partner and I sleep trained our daughter, and while there were some tears along the way, she is as bonded to us as a barnacle on a whale.