There are many arguments to be made for breastfeeding, one of which happens to be that it’s a great way to bond with your baby. I won’t deny the fact that it is a special way to bond with your newborn. I was able to breastfeed for a few months and it was, in fact, a very beautiful thing. But that doesn’t mean it’s the only way to bond with your baby, and it certainly doesn’t mean it’s not possible to bond with your baby during formula-feeding. I spent most of my son’s early years feeding him formula, and I had the chance to bond with my son in equally beautiful, special ways.
As a mom you, and only you, get to decide whether or not you give breastfeeding a shot. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), eight out of 10 moms will, in fact, start breastfeeding their babies at birth. But plenty of moms don't nurse for a variety of very valid reasons, and many still try breastfeeding but can't continue due to numerous factors that are outside their control. I am one of those moms, so I know firsthand that the whole "anyone who wants to breastfeed their babies bad enough, will" notion is utter nonsense.
While I was able to breastfeed my son for a short amount of time, I know that if I didn't I still would have bonded with my baby. A bottle and some formula wouldn't have kept us from getting to know one another. In fact, in many ways it helped me grow closer to my son. So if you’re on the fence about formula-feeding because you don’t think you’ll bond, I’m here to set the record straight and let you know just how I made sure to prioritize bonding while formula-feeding my newborn.
I Made Eye Contact
Eye contact is probably one of the most intimate acts we can share with another person, no matter their age. I was (and still am) head over heels for my little boy, and honestly couldn’t even help but stare at him constantly. If that doesn’t initiate a bond, I don’t know what does.
I Used A Nursing Pillow
Formula-feeding and breastfeeding really aren’t all that different. I made sure my boy was extra cozy during our feedings by propping him up with a nursing pillow. Helping him relax, and staying comfortable myself, definitely helped us both bond.
I Fed Him Whenever He Was Hungry
A number of moms breastfeed on demand, and I honestly didn’t see a reason why I should avoid doing the same just because I was feeding my baby formula. While I did have a general schedule, if my son was hungry sooner or later than I scheduled, I followed his cues and fed him immediately. Giving my son a say in when he was fed made me feel closer to him, and I think it made him feel closer to me, too.
I Stayed In The Moment
Being mindful certainly helps when you're trying to bond with another human being. Did I occasionally watch an episode of Game of Thrones during a late-night feed? Absolutely. But I also did my best to spend lots of feeding time being especially mindful of what was going on and how my son was responding.
I Talked To My Baby
I’ve been having lengthy conversations with my son since before he was born. And when we started formula feeding, I kept it up. Sure, he was kind of quiet, but he was able to constantly hear my voice and I know that helped us bond.
I Used Skin-To-Skin Contact
While my son was in the NICU, I learned about the importance of kangaroo care, which can help with many things including bonding. So when I had a more private moment to feed my son, I held him close to me sans clothing. It certainly released plenty of feel-good hormones for the both of us.
I Sang A Lot Of Songs
When my son was a baby, I was not shy about singing to him. It’s something I don’t generally do publicly, but something I enjoyed sharing with my son when we were at home. He, in turn, loved locking eyes with me while I sang. And while I don’t do it nearly as much these days, he still loves when I sing to him so I know we definitely bonded over it.
I Always Gave My Son Snuggles
What better way to bond with someone than to give them lots of hugs and kisses, right? Whether he was still awake or fast asleep by the end of his bottle, I always held him for a while after our feedings ended.