The early months of an infant’s life are the time to establish a strong baby-parent bond, which actually becomes the foundation for all of your child’s deep friendships and intimate bonds, throughout the rest of his life. 

How long does it take to bond with a newborn baby?

Every parent and baby relationship is different. It’s not uncommon for new moms and dads to feel little to no emotional attachment to their newborns in the hours after delivery. Don’t feel anxious or guilty if you fall under this category. It can sometimes take days, weeks, and even months to build a strong bond with your baby. 

How important is bonding with a newborn?

Bonding is essential for newborn infant development. Even if you do not have an initial strong emotional bond with your baby, you’ll want to be attentive to your baby’s cries as this is the first step in establishing relationships with other people.

How to bond with a baby:

Building a strong bond with your newborn baby is simple. Activities that can help establish a bond with your newborn include:

  • Regularly touching, cuddling, and holding your baby
  • Responding to your baby’s cries and fussiness
  • Talking and using soothing or reassuring tones with your baby
  • Making facial expressions and eye contact as you communicate or hold your baby
  • Singing songs (check out our list of baby lullabies)

Baby Bonding 101

The best thing to do to nourish a parent-newborn bond? Respond quickly to his cries. Your predictable support during these early months grows your infant’s trust and feelings of security.

In fact, in 1972, Johns Hopkins’ researchers, Sylvia Bell and Mary Ainsworth, found that babies who received a near-immediate, tender response to their cries—during the early months—were more poised, patient and trusting of their mother when tested at one year of age.

In their examination of the question, “How to bond with your newborn?”, Bell and Ainsworth developed a new area of understanding called attachment psychology. This teaches that a rapid, sympathetic response to a baby’s cries is the very glue of strong family values. When your loving arms cuddle your baby or warm milk satisfies him, you’re telling him, “Don’t worry. I’ll always be there when you need me.”

Fortunately, it’s impossible to spoil a baby during the first 6 to 9 months of life! Remember, at birth you abruptly stopped your baby’s daily feast of rocking, holding, and rhythmic sound. One mom joked, “No wonder they cry. Like entering a detox program, we make our new babies go cold turkey from the 24/7 snuggling they had in the womb!”

Keep in mind, you don’t have to go cold turkey. Holding, swaying and shushing… using a swaddle, sling, skin-to-skin, the 5’s or SNOO Smart Sleeper…all of these methods of 4th trimester care will remind your baby of the womb and make his transition to our great, big world less jarring. Using gentle sleep cues for nights and naps will help him nod off more easily and give him the confidence that he’s safe while he sleeps. When you teach him healthy sleep habits in stress-free, little baby steps, his faith in you will grow and grow. (For more information on building healthy sleep habits from a young age, check out my gentle sleep-training method, the wake-and-sleep technique.) 



Did you know? SNOO Smart Sleeper reinforces the bond you’re building by quickly responding to your baby’s fussing all through the night, with gentle rocking and shushing, to help soothe his cries and lull him back to sleep. Learn more!

About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.