Bonding With Your Blind Baby
Form a Secure Attachment With Your Blind Baby
A secure attachment is vital to a baby's development; but, without eye contact, parents may find bonding with a blind baby to be challenging. Parents who adopt a blind baby may find it necessary to focus on attachment and bonding very intentionally, especially during the first two or three years the baby is home. Even parents who give birth to a baby with vision problems may find bonding challenging, especially if their baby has been hospitalized a lot.
Bonding with a blind baby who has been institutionalized, either in a hospital or orphanage can be especially challenging. Even a baby who has been in foster care can have some issues in attachment. Blindness adds another hurdle to the attachment process, but it is not difficult to overcome these with a young child. Consistently practicing bonding behaviors is the key.
I adopted my daughter when she was ten months old. She had been in a hospital her first three months and then transferred to an orphanage until her adoption. She had been traumatized by her experiences in the hospital especially and became terrified if handled in certain ways. She had to learn to trust in order to attach to me. In addition to the typical things parents do to facilitate attachment, I learned there are differences for blind children in the attachment process.
My daughter is almost 14 now and we have a very close, mutually-fulfilling relationship. I will help you learn to read your blind baby's cues so you too can form a secure attachment with your blind child.
Learn Your Baby's Cues
Blind Babies Respond Differently From Sighted Children
Attune yourself to your baby's cues. Sighted babies often become excited and more active when they see their parents. They smile, wave their arms and kick their feet. This also excites the parents, and this mutual joy helps form the bond of attachment.
Blind babies have different cues and you must learn to read them. A blind baby will quiet herself when she hears her parents. She will become very still so that she can hear them. Some parents mistakenly think that their baby does not like them because she quiets when they come around. This is a mistaken interpretation.
Notice if your baby becomes quiet when she hears you. She is giving you her full attention and tuning into you.
The photo above is my daughter at about 12 months old. She is being very still, listening to the sound of my voice.
Photo property of author. All rights reserved.
Your Blind Baby Loves to Hear You Sing
Sing to your baby. It does not matter if you have a beautiful voice. Your voice is your baby's favorite sound.
While the myths are many about blind people being more musical or having a keener sense of hearing, none of this is true. What is true, however, is that there are many ways that music benefits a blind baby and bonding is just one of them. Music also helps your baby's brain development, aids in language development and it is fun!
You do not need a musical instrument. Learn some simple nursery songs and lullabies to sing to your baby. Sing the ABC's or sing your favorite Lady Gaga hit. It does not matter what you sing, just sing! Your baby will love it, and before you know it he will be singing along!
Be sure to check out the video of the music therapist singing to the blind baby and watch her come out of her shell!
Blind Babies Respond to Music
Watch as this blind baby responds to a music therapy session. At the beginning of the video she is disengaged, but as the therapist sings to her and introduces various instruments she is drawn out of her shell and begins interacting with him. If this continues she will begin developing a bond with this adult.
Use a Cabasa With a Blind Baby
The therapist in the video used a cabasa with the baby to engage her and stimulate her to interact with him. You can use a rattle or anything that makes noise, including some beans in a water bottle. The nice thing about the cabasa is the interesting texture. You can see the baby exploring the texture in the video.
This is a real musical instrument and not a toy. Your child will not outgrow this; it can stay with him throughout life. Do not leave the baby alone with this, but only allow him to have it when interacting with you so that you can supervise him for safety purposes. The cabasa does contain small parts.
Engage your baby with a real musical instrument that has great sound and an interesting texture.
Using a Paddle Drum With a Blind Baby
The therapist in the video used a paddle drum shaped like a big lollipop. Unfortunately, I was not able to find one exactly like he had. I liked it because it was colorful, useful if the child has some remaining vision. I also like the interesting texture of his drum.
This paddle drum is not colorful, but I like that it is an authentic instrument and not a toy. Using real objects as much as possible helps blind children with concept development. This drum has a goatskin head and an authentic sound.
This is a real instrument and not a toy. Your child will not outgrow this. Always supervise young children when they are using real musical instruments such as this to avoid accidents.
What is Your Baby's Favorite Song?
Each baby is an individual with his or her own musical tastes. When it comes to being serenaded, what does your baby enjoy? You do not have to sign in with Squidoo to participate in my polls.
What do you sing the most to your baby?
Carry Your Baby
Blind Babies Need Skin Contact
Hold your baby a lot. Your blind baby needs extra time in your arms to compensate for not being able to watch you visually. Skin to skin contact is important in attachment. Hold your baby to feed her and never prop her bottle. Carry your baby in a sling instead of in a carrier. Never leave your blind baby strapped in a carseat unless he is riding in a car!
Keep your baby with you. Do not leave her lying in her bed or playpen and go to another room for more than a few moments. She needs to be with you, to hear your voice, and to learn about what you are doing.
Carrying your baby in a sling, also called baby wearing, has great benefits for bonding as well as stimulating your baby's developing sensory system. The skin-to-skin contact your baby gets in the sling provides comfort and stimulation. Being wrapped snuggly in the sling simulates being in the womb, where the baby is soothed by the warmth of your body, smell your scent, hear your voice, heartbeat and breathing.
Bonding with a Blind Baby Poll - Baby Slings
People tend to have strong feelings about baby wraps and slings. Share your opinions here! You do not have to sign in with Squidoo to participate in my polls and quizzes.
Do you wear your baby?
Have a Consistent Scent
Your Blind Baby Recognizes You by Smell
Having a consistent scent is important so that your blind baby can identify you. My teenage daughter still sniffs me if I grab her in a crowd.
Wear the same fragrance, and use the same soap and shampoo everyday. Your blind baby is getting to know you by your scent. If you change your fragrance or shampoo every few days, your baby will be confused about who you are and it will take longer for him to bond to you.
Talk to Your Baby
Blind Babies Need More Information
Talk to your blind baby a lot. Tell her everything that you are doing. She cannot see you, so describe to her what you are doing as you dress her, prepare her meals or tidy the room. It makes no difference that she does not speak English yet! She is bonding to the sound of your voice.
When I first started doing this, I felt silly. It felt awkward to describe my activities all the time. It took me some time to realize that whenever I was not talking to my child that from her perspective I vanished. I tried harder to keep it up and now it is more habitual to describe things to her.
Keep talking and it will start feeling more natural. Your child will benefit greatly from this.
Touch Your Baby - Touch Replaces Eye Contact with Mom for Blind Children
Touch replaces eye contact with Mom for blind children. Notice if your baby has a special way of reaching out to you. Every child will develop his own way of making a connection with his parents.
My daughter, who had only light perception, would reach out a small hand and touch the cheek of the person who was holding her. Today she is a teenager, and she still talks about the texture of the cheeks of people she knew as a very young child.
When seated in her high chair, she would reach her foot out and put it on my knee as I fed her. This was her way of making contact. She still likes to play "footsie" at the table sometimes.
The way your body feels is very important to your blind child in forming an attachment to you. Touch your blind baby a lot, because this is an important substitute for eye contact to him.
Learn Infant Massage - Nurturing Touch for Babies With Special Needs
Infant massage techniques are helpful to babies with many special needs including prematurity and blindness. Massaging your infant provides you both with a positive interaction that will calm both of you and facilitate bonding and attachment.
This book is highly recommended by both parents and professionals. Check out the reviews!
Dance With Your Baby
Blind Babies Need Movement
Dance with your baby. Blind babies need extra movement experiences to facilitate their brain development. Turn on the radio, snuggle your newborn close and sway to gentle ballads. Hug your toddler to your chest and bop to some lively tunes. Cuddling and moving together to music will be enjoyable to you both and enhance your emotional bond.
Help Your Baby See Your Face - For Babies With Low Vision
Here is a video with a suggestion for parents of infants with low vision, to help your baby see your face.
The Most Important Thing: Enjoy Your Baby!!!
The Most Important Thing - Enjoy Your Baby
The most important thing is taking pleasure in parenting your child. Enjoy these special times bonding with your baby!
Take time to watch your baby sleeping. Laugh with your child. Everyday, multiple times a day, take time to do things with your child that bring you both pleasure. Cuddle, play, laugh, sing, dance, read a story.
Most importantly, enjoy your baby. Do not allow medical issues or concerns about the future interfere with your relationship with your child.
Read More About Blind Babies
This is a collection of books about blind babies and young children, and what parents can do to facilitate their child's development.
An earlier edition of this book helped me when my daughter was a baby. Highly recommended.
This Article Received the Squidoo Purple Star Award on August 1, 2011!
Do you have a special bonding moment with your blind baby? Or just tell us about your baby! We love babies and love to hear what you and your baby are doing.