breastfeeding naturally necessitates an extreme degree physical closeness between a baby and the person feeding them. this can actually get quite exhausting and overwhelming, and lead to a feeling of being ‘touched out’, but it also gives an opportunity for precious bonding.
there are many who privilege this form of bonding over all others, but it can still be developed and enjoyed when breastfeeding isn’t part of the parent/child relationship.
here are some of the things we do to enjoy closeness with arty:
- snuggle time. some of my most precious moments with arty have been snuggle time where we will lie chest to chest, his head resting on my arm. sometimes we’ll have little ‘chats’ where we coo and babble at each other. sometimes i’ll sing softly to him. sometimes we’ll both fall asleep like this and we’ll share some nap time. we share each other’s space, and relax together, and it’s really lovely for both of us.
- babywearing. we’ve made good and regular use of our ergo carrier since arty was born. til very recently we’d wear him facing inwards, chest to chest again, and he would often relax so much that he’d fall asleep there. he’s just getting to the stage where he’s a bit heavy to be carried on the front for very long, so we’ve switched to the back. i can report that having a baby blow raspberries on your back is a very odd, and genuinely excellent sensation.
- bathing together. we don’t do this every day, but from time to time we will have a shower or bath with him to make the most of that skin-to-skin time that is so important for attachment.
- making the most of all the little opportunities to demonstrate affection. it’s easy to get caught up in getting from one task to another when you’re busily trying to raise one person, and be a functional person yourself, but i try not to let a chance for a cuddle, a kiss, or a moment of closeness go by. tummy kisses while we’re on the change table, a big cuddle before being bundled into the car, or just sitting quietly together when he’s all relaxed after a bottle, instead of putting him straight down for a nap and moving on to the next thing. each day holds hundreds of chances like this, and it’s a privilege and a joy take them!
breastfeeding is indeed a unique and intimate relationship, but it is not the only route to a strong positive bond between parent an child.