Prenatal Bonding with Baby Prepares for Good Sleep after Birth

Author Name: Heidi Holvoet, PhD

Pregnant woman talking bonding with baby

Bonding with your baby during pregnancy is just wonderful. It's your first chance to connect with your baby and to start building that all important emotional attachment between you.

Certain baby bonding techniques can help prepare for your newborn sleeping well after birth .

These are not all scientifically proven, and there will be other factors influencing her sleep, but why not optimise your chances for the best baby sleep?

Tips for Bonding with Baby

Your womb is a comfortable and secure place to be for your baby.

It is warm, cosy and safe, she's never alone, is fed at will, she can sleep and be awake at will, she can kick you as much as she likes ;)
... all positive feelings. Also the bonding connections you make - through her hearing and touch senses - make her feel good.

Once born, anything that reminds her of being in the womb - like being warm, held close to you, feeding, hearing your voice ... - will bring back those memories of well-being and safety.

Feeling good and secure are the best cues to sleep well. So the idea behind the tips below is to build specific memories during pregnancy, and to bring these memories up when your newborn is going to sleep.

What is Bonding with Baby ?

Bonding with baby is all about making loving connections. It's the process of building an emotional attachment between your baby and you (mom, dad, or other primary caregiver ).

Mostly, it happens naturally when you provide a loving and secure environment in which you consistently care for your baby, attend to her needs and be there for her. How tight and secure the attachment is and how it develops, depends on your and her personality.

The bonding a baby experiences in her first three years, will be the reference for her emotional experiences later in life.

Research has shown how secure baby bonding promotes healthy growth and development for baby and good emotional functioning. It sets the stage for building all sorts of relationships in life.

A poor, insecure attachment is related to developmental delays, and emotional and functional troubles later in life.

  • Talk softly to your baby during quiet moments

    When you relax, during the day or at night in bed, talk to your baby in a soft gentle voice. Gently stroke your belly if you like.

    Talk about your day, your plans and also talk about sleep as something good, something that feels nice, ... If you have a crib or co-sleeper prepared, talk about that too; how and where she will sleep.

    Your baby will come to love your voice (it will be one of the first things she recognizes). Later, when you talk to your baby while putting her to sleep, your voice will reassure her.
  • Play favorite music during quiet moments

    Babies may remember music played often during pregnancy. If you play that music again after birth, it can help her calm down and soothe to sleep more easily.
  • Sing a favorite lullaby at night

    Regularly singing a lullaby you like at night is a great idea. The combination of your voice and a soft lullaby will be a great memory and cue to drift off to sleep

    Lullaby songs have always been part of bonding throughout history and are even found in the animal world.

Note: There's no point in trying to instill a sleep schedule now. In the womb, your baby alternates wake and sleep phases constantly (as she will do as a newborn) nothing close to an earthly schedule.

Bonding with baby during pregnancy is not exclusive to moms . Partners can do very much the same: touching, talking and singing to the baby unborn, are great early bonding activities for dads too.

Many a dad's lower voice has been ideal to soothe and comfort a fussy baby so this is excellent practice for later on.

Other pregnancy effects on newborn sleeping skills

The way a newborn sleeps - or does not sleep - depends in part on how she experienced pregnancy and delivery.

In general, a smooth pregnancy and an uncomplicated delivery , seem to promote the best newborn sleeping skills .

Also, the closer to full term a baby is carried, i.e. the longer she spends in the womb, the larger the chances for better sleep , especially sleeping through the night seems to come easier.

There are factors that you can't control of course, like how smooth your pregnancy is, or how delivery goes.

But you can give yourself the best chances with a healthy lifestyle and finding pregnancy guidance that suits you - whether it's pregnancy yoga or other exercises, parent's information sessions, natural birth preparations: as long as you do the things or follow the approaches that feel right to you, you can't go wrong.

Article Author: Heidi Holvoet, PhD - Founder, senior sleep consultant

Heidi Holvoet, PhD

Heidi Holvoet, PhD, is the founder of the Baby Sleep Advice website and movement, an award-winning author, baby & toddler sleep consultant with 15+ years experience as well as a certified lactation counselor.

Over the years, Heidi has received several awards inluding a Mom's Choice Award (MCA) and National Parenting Awards (NAPPA) for her Baby Sleep Advice website, programs and books. Also, Baby Sleep Advice was awarded "Most Trusted Infant's Sleep Solutions Company 2023" in the Benelux Enterprise Awards 2023.

Heidi continually conducts personal research and participates in continued education and in that way stays up to date with current scientific and pyschosocial infant care.

Association of Professional Sleep Consultants

She is also a member of the Association of Professional Sleep Consultants of which she was one of the earliest contributors. She obtained her PhD degree in physics at the University of Ghent in Belgium.

Heidi is passionate about helping babies and their parents sleep more and better, with her trademark approach that has been proven and praised time and again by parents worldwide to be effective and truly no-tears. Respect for you as a parent and your baby, is at the heart of Heidi's warm and kind support. Her approach always keeps in mind a baby's needs and abilities at any given age, is based on pediatric science and the most up to date knowledge in infant care and sleep science.

As well as the award-winning baby sleep programs, Heidi offers popular 1:1 consults and easy-access 30-minute SOS Sleep sessions.