One of the best things about being a new parent is getting to bond with your new baby. Given that a good portion of this bonding begins with the child in the womb, many people who choose to build their family in non-traditional ways – such as surrogacy – often wonder how they can bond with their baby if they aren’t the one who carried them. They wonder if it is even possible to achieve that kind of bond with their child.

Society tells us there is nothing like the connection between a pregnant woman and the child she is carrying. This doesn’t mean that you can’t still foster that kind of bond if you aren’t the one giving birth to the baby. It takes a little extra effort, but it’s more than possible to build a bond with your baby after surrogacy. Just remember that every baby needs contact, communication, and love. Here are some tips on how to establish a strong bond with your baby after surrogacy.

1. Get Involved with the Pregnancy

You should aim to be involved with the pregnancy as much as possible and be there with the surrogate for the whole process. This means going to doctor’s appointments with them, or just spending time together outside of hospital visits. This helps bond with children after the birth because even though you didn’t carry the child yourself, it encourages the surrogate to keep you updated and make you feel like you were part of the pregnancy.

2. Talk to Your Baby Before they are Born

You shouldn’t be afraid to talk to the baby when meeting your surrogate. A major part of the connection between a mother and baby is the baby hearing their mother’s and father’s voice in vitro. You should give your baby as many opportunities as possible to hear your voice.

If you have trouble meeting with the surrogate as regularly as you would like, you can send them an audio recording of your voice they can play to the baby, or you can use speakerphone calls and voice calling software.

3. Talk to Your Baby After They are Born

As well as talking to your baby before they are born, you should continue talking as much as possible after they are born too. It’s impossible to overstate the benefits of spending time talking to your little one.

They find comfort in your voice and it helps to further establish that bond between parent and child. Talking to a child also helps them to develop their own language and speaking skills. Children like to learn by listening. If you want them to talk back to you early, you shouldn’t be shy about helping them pick up language and information by talking to them.

4. Establish Physical Contact

The key to establishing a strong bond after a baby is born is to establish as much physical contact as possible. Though physical contact is bound to happen naturally as you bathe, feed, and change your little one, many parents also employ a method known as “kangaroo care”.

This basically means holding your baby against you with skin-to-skin contact. It works just as well for fathers as it does mothers. Holding your baby close like this is often the fastest way to soothe them when they get fussy. It may take a little getting used to, but you’ll be surprised by how quickly it becomes second nature.

5. Respond to Your Baby’s Needs

Paying attention to your baby and responding to their needs is the foundation of being a great parent. You may feel overwhelmed with the new baby at first, especially if you’re a first-time parent, but you do learn quickly. You might not be able to anticipate what your baby needs right away, but the more you pay attention to them the better your understanding of them will be.

Give it time and you’ll soon know what they want and be able to give it to them. That mutual understanding between baby and parent facilitates the bond between you. After all, babies bond to the person who responds when they cry. That’s why doctors recommend that only parents tend to the needs of children in the first few months, so they are able to fully recognize who you are and what role you play in their life.

6. Make the Most of Feeding Time

Feeding time is another important time where you can build a bond with your baby. Make sure that you maintain eye contact with your child while feeding them and try to limit distractions so they focus on you and the food.

Did you know intended parents can breastfeed their kids too? You can establish a bond with your new child by breastfeeding them or just giving them plenty of skin contact during bottle feeding. Be sure to talk to your doctor about how to breastfeed as an intended mother to learn more.

7. Be Affectionate

You’ll naturally be holding your baby a lot after bringing them home – whether it’s for feeding, soothing, or just to take them in for the little wonders they are. This contact is sure to comfort the baby, who will feel much closer to you just from feeling and hearing your heartbeat.

You should never be afraid to show affection to your baby. We understand you might be worried about spoiling them, but it’s simply not possible to spoil a newborn. You can’t give them too much affection. If anything, the more affection you give them the deeper the bond between the two of you and the more they consider you their parent. Stroke their cheek, hold their hands, give them gentle massages, and even bathe with them to build the bond between you two.

Taking your new baby home can be overwhelming for most parents, but it is particularly overwhelming for intended parents who are getting to spend time with their little one for the first time. Never forget your surrogacy specialist will be on hand if you need any help adjusting to your new life as a parent.