Healthy Living in the North

Bonding with your baby

Father and daughter

“Well-loved babies do better in every way.” How can you spend time bonding with your baby?

Have you ever been told that carrying or holding your baby too much will spoil them? This is a common myth held by many parents and caregivers. In fact, the opposite is true!

Research has shown that well-loved babies do better in every way. The first six months are an important time for you and your baby. Take time to give love, hugs, smiles and lots of reassurance. Emotional attachment is one of the keys to raising a happy, confident child.

The BC Healthy Child Development Alliance has some simple steps you can take to help ensure a good, close connection with your baby:

Spend time face-to-face with your baby.

  • Take time each day to cuddle and play with your baby up close.
  • Spend time watching what your baby does and responding to facial expressions and sounds by imitating them.
  • Talk to your baby. Research shows that the more words a baby hears each day, the better they learn.

Observe your baby.

Watch and listen to your baby to learn what your baby wants or needs. Here are some cues to what your baby is “saying” to you:

  • Turns away, does not want eye contact: “I need rest.”
  • Frowns, starts to cry, pulls away: “I am upset, lonely, sick or hurt.”
  • Cries, has wide open eyes, stiffens body, arches spine or turns away from you: “I am in distress, upset or afraid.”
  • Reaches for you, follows you (if a walking toddler), face has a sad look – maybe a trembling lip: “I need you.”
  • Smiles, giggles, gazes at you, reaches for you, makes cooing sounds: “I like that.”

Notice the cues that say “distress.”

  • Babies who are in distress and whose parents respond promptly (within 1-2 minutes) cry less after the first year.
  • Babies beyond four months old can handle short periods of mild distress; giving them a chance to calm themselves helps them to learn new skills and to sleep longer periods at night.

Delight in your baby.

  • Help your baby explore and play by finding ways to play together (e.g., stacking cups or playing with blocks or stuffed toys).
  • Welcome your baby when he or she needs to cuddle or comes to you for comfort.

Get down on the floor with your baby.

  • Every baby needs “tummy time” on a mat or blanket set on the floor. This is a time when your baby will exercise muscles or discover new ways to move.
  • Spend time watching what your baby does and respond to your baby’s cues.

For more information and to learn more ways to build attachment and help your child adjust to their emotions, visit:


This article was originally published in Healthier You magazine. Read the full Summer 2016 issue all about healthy children below!

Vanessa Salmons

About Vanessa Salmons

Vanessa is a registered nurse and Northern Health’s Early Childhood Development lead for preventive public health. Located in Quesnel, Vanessa supports prenatal, postpartum and family health services across the north. She is married with two children and is always busy with the family’s many activities. Work/life balance is important to Vanessa. When she is not at work, she enjoys spending time with family and friends entertaining and cooking. Vanessa stays active through walking or running with her dog Maggie, spinning and circuit training. A good game of golf or a good book is always a bonus!

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Breastfeeding: giving your child a gold medal start to life

baby, breastfeeding, mother

Breastfeeding gives your child a gold start to life!

You may have heard that breast milk is the gold standard for infant feeding – and it’s true! In anticipation of World Breastfeeding Week (October 1-7, 2014, in Canada) and the Canada Winter Games in Prince George in February 2015, it’s a great time to highlight how an early start to life with breastfeeding can contribute to our children “growing for gold”!

My breastfeeding story of “growing for gold” is similar to many, I’m sure. What I remember most about the first moments with my newborns is that magical instant when each one latched on and started breastfeeding for the first time. It’s truly amazing when babies can find their way to the breast and start feeding. UNICEF has done a video, Breast Crawl, that perfectly illustrates this moment.

I’m not saying my breastfeeding experience was perfect. As a public health nurse, I thought I had all the knowledge and tools to breastfeed successfully, but I found a few challenges along the way: sore nipples, frequent feedings, and being so-so-SO tired! Knowing where to get information and support was key to tackling these issues and keeping me on track. I breastfed both of my children into their second year of life.

Breastfeeding meant that my children and I received many of benefits. For babies, breastfeeding provides a balanced diet, reduces infectious diseases, and promotes optimal brain development. For mothers, breastfeeding reduces the risk of osteoporosis and the risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

Now, I understand that breastfeeding may not be for everyone. But most women who choose to breastfeed have a successful experience. Here are some useful supports and resources for nursing mothers and their families:

For more resources, you can also visit Northern Health’s page for pregnancy, maternity and babies.

Check these resources out to support your breastfeeding experience and give your baby a gold medal start to life.

What was your experience with breastfeeding?

Vanessa Salmons

About Vanessa Salmons

Vanessa is a registered nurse and Northern Health’s Early Childhood Development lead for preventive public health. Located in Quesnel, Vanessa supports prenatal, postpartum and family health services across the north. She is married with two children and is always busy with the family’s many activities. Work/life balance is important to Vanessa. When she is not at work, she enjoys spending time with family and friends entertaining and cooking. Vanessa stays active through walking or running with her dog Maggie, spinning and circuit training. A good game of golf or a good book is always a bonus!

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