Life changes from the moment your new arrival is welcomed into the world. Your perspective on what matters changes and in the early months, caring for and bonding with your baby while juggling older children and other responsibilities becomes hugely challenging.
Such a life-changing experience as having a baby is positive for you and your children but you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed by new responsibilities. However, new mums can feel depressed, anxious, and overwhelmed in the weeks following the baby’s delivery. In fact, a staggering 80% of new mothers in the UK are reported to struggle with “baby blues”.
That is where mindfulness activities are a great benefit; as well as being calming, they can be a great bonding experience for new mothers and their babies. Here, let’s take a closer look at mindfulness activities for mother and baby alongside meditative techniques that can benefit you and your whole family.
Eye contact is one of the most important body language communication types, and our eyes can often speak volumes about how people are really feeling. Not only is it important for adults to communicate with one another, but eye contact between mother and child also is ideal for bonding and making your baby feel secure. When you gaze deeply into your children’s eyes, it lets them know they are safe and secure while also boosting their sense of worthiness.
The simple act of staring into your baby’s eyes is a mindfulness activity of its own. This creates a deep bond while also helping to clear your mind of any clutter; allowing you to focus completely on the little life staring right back at you. Here are some great eye-contact-building exercises:
- Eye gazing from your lap. Hold your baby in your arms and start to take longer, more considered breaths while focusing on their eyes. If they can support their head, place them on your lap with your knees raised so they are facing you.
- Tummy time eye contact. Tummy time is important for your baby’s development and it is also a great opportunity for eye contact. Join your baby on the floor on your tummy and maintain eye contact to help them feel secure and connected.
- Elevated eye contact. When your child’s neck and shoulder muscles are strong enough, lying on your back with your knees together and raised is an excellent pose for eye contact. It gives your baby a new perspective as they look down on you from above while further developing their stabiliser muscles.
Go for a walk in nature
Walking is known to benefit our mental health as it helps reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. The mindfulness qualities of walking are enhanced when you go for a stroll in nature and embrace the beauty of your surroundings. When you breathe in nature, so too can your baby if they are attached to your person. They can feel your heartbeat, adding a sensory element to your walk.
Babies love to be outdoors because there is so much for them to discover with so many sights, smells and sounds to stimulate your baby’s mind. The rhythm of your movements is enjoyable for your child while pushing them in a baby buggy gives them a different perspective and an opportunity to make discoveries.
Walking is great exercise and it’s a great way to fit in some extra activity but consider walking with your baby at a leisurely pace. Think of these walks as mini voyages of discovery, where everything from a leaf blowing in the breeze to a bird tweeting in a tree is fascinating for your baby!
Family portraits and making memories
When a newborn arrives, there are so many precious moments to capture your baby’s early days and create incredible memories for you and your family. The art of photography can combine a passion for taking pictures while bonding with your baby. Getting behind the camera is soothing as it allows you to cut out all distractions and focus.
Use the eye-contact exercises mentioned earlier to help freeze-frame a special moment or gaze in time. And if our endless social media posts are anything to go by, there are plenty of hilarious and adorable poses to enjoy and share.
In the case of family photography, it’s also an opportunity to have some fun as parents with your baby. As one parent bonds with the baby, the other can help document this loving experience either at home, in the garden, or at a location of your choosing. Camera experts MPB explain, “Children’s photography is all about following your child and working with them to capture them at their most natural. Knowing some basic photography skills and camera settings is a good idea, such as understanding that a dynamic autofocus option can help to keep a moving subject in focus.”
Mother and baby yoga
Yoga is another great mindfulness activity and hobby to enjoy with your baby and younger children. Having a baby in tow shouldn’t stop your love of yoga and it can prove to be beneficial for your child. For starters, yoga is a great exercise to help recent mothers tone up those important stomach muscles, not to mention their pelvic floor.
Baby yoga gives your baby the chance to reach out and stretch while discovering life as they use their limbs during gentle poses. As this is a relaxing exercise, it also lets your baby know what it’s like to be quiet and still.
Thanks to the combination of physical touch and emotional contact, baby yoga gently encourages your infant to explore their newfound skills. Yoga can deepen the bonding experience and help a baby to find their own centre of gravity to make them steadier on their feet when learning to walk.
You might also find that bathtime is ideal for creating a multi-sensory experience for your baby. As your baby will already be living in the now and experiencing the splashing water, noises and smells, it’s the perfect time for you to do the same. The calming nature of a bath will also allow you both to tune into your senses rather than focus on your usual crowded thoughts.
Talking out loud about the things you are experiencing can help to reassure your baby while enjoying the sensory experience for yourself. Describing things like how you are feeling the warm water, and what you are smelling and hearing helps you to stay in the moment. The meditative qualities of bathtime mean that if any thoughts do appear, you can follow them and let them float away before bringing your attention back to your baby and your senses.
As well as being such great calming activities, knowing some mindfulness activities and techniques to adopt can go some way to help you not just bond with a newborn but enjoy family life in more ways than one.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.