Antenatal Clinic Advice 

Building a strong relationship with your baby 

All parents hope to build a strong, loving relationship with their baby. And all babies need a strong loving relationship with their parents.

Parents and babies use touch, movement, sound and feelings to make this special relationship strong. This is called bonding. It’s like glue and holds the relationship together. Building a strong bond between you and your baby is important to your baby’s future. A strong bond is a healthy start for your baby to grow, develop and build relationships with other people.

How your baby communicates with you 

You can start communicating with your baby before birth. In the last three months of pregnancy your baby is developing their senses (hearing and vision). They are also beginning to develop their language and thinking abilities, so talk, sing and read to your baby while they are in the womb.

Babies can communicate with you as soon as they are born. At first your baby’s communication signs are quick and hard to spot. Sometimes, it will be a look, a sudden stillness or some other little movement. As your baby grows, you may see and hear them:

  • looking at you for a few seconds
  • smiling, cooing, holding out their arms and crying
  • learning by looking around but then checking back with you
  • giving signals that tell you they need you to make them feel safe (making sounds, quick movements).

Looking and listening for these signs will help you tune in to your baby’s communication.

You can make your special bond strong by:

  • holding, cuddling and gentle handling. Hold your baby’s head and neck—it’s easy for babies to be frightened of falling
  • understanding when your baby needs feeding, changing and comforting
  • building your baby's skills by helping them see, hear, touch, taste and smell new or interesting things.

How do I talk to my baby?

  • Go to your baby calmly and gently
  • Tell your baby what’s going to happen—it helps babies feel safe
  • Share eye contact with your baby
  • Let your baby look at your face—babies learn to read faces early
  • Say soft sounds or words to your baby
  • Give baby time to make sounds back to you—this will happen from around three months
  • Repeat the sounds your baby makes and wait
  • Look where baby is looking and say what it is or what is happening.

Remember, sometimes your baby will be tired and won’t feel like talking; they will wriggle, look away or cry. Look for these signals.

What do my baby’s cry mean?

Babies use crying to tell us lots of different things like: I’m tired, I need a nappy change, I’m hungry, I’m lonely and I need a cuddle.

Remember, you are the most important person in your baby’s life, and babies and parents need to learn about each other to build a strong relationship.

Source: With permission from West Moreton Child and Family Health Services. Queensland Health. Queensland Government. Undated.

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For urgent assessment at any stage of your pregnancy, please present to your nearest emergency centre or Mater Mothers’ 24/7 Pregnancy Assessment Centre in South Brisbane.

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