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Bonding With Your Blind Baby

Updated on September 22, 2014

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.

Photo credit

Very still and listening to Mom's voice
Very still and listening to Mom's voice

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.

Sing to your blind baby
Sing to your blind baby

Lullaby Time

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.

Cabasa, Medium Wooden with Metal Beads
Cabasa, Medium Wooden with Metal Beads

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?

See results
Carry your baby with you whenever you can.
Carry your baby with you whenever you can.

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.

Maya Wrap

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?

See results
Your scent is important in bonding with your blind child
Your scent is important in bonding with your blind child

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 is important to your blind baby
Touch is important to your blind baby

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.

An Infant Massage Guidebook: For Well, Premature, and Special Needs Babies
An Infant Massage Guidebook: For Well, Premature, and Special Needs Babies

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

Enjoy your blind baby
Enjoy your blind 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.

Reach Out and Teach: Helping Your Child Who Is Visually Impaired Learn and Grow
Reach Out and Teach: Helping Your Child Who Is Visually Impaired Learn and Grow

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.

Tell Us About Your Baby!

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    • profile image

      bossypants 

      5 years ago

      What a comprehensive article, involving all the senses! You and A share such a special bond and I love hearing about her many accomplishments -- all possible because of your attention and love!

    • Mamabyrd profile image

      Mamabyrd 

      5 years ago

      Frischy this is such a beautiful and powerful lens. I don't have a special needs child. My daughters were born nine weeks premature but thankfully they are healthy, happy three year olds now. I remember worrying that my daughter wouldn't bond with me because she spent so much time in the hospital. It was gut wrenching to leave her everyday. I pray your lens reaches those that need it the most. God Bless! Thank you for sharing.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      Hi there. I´m from Portugal (so excuse any mistakes i may write) and i´m finishing my master thesis on Educacional Psycology. My work is about parental bonding with visually impaired children. I just loved this blog and i´ve noticed that you have some book sugestions for parents with blind children, but i was searching for anything simpler than book, because they are harder to get. Can you or anyone help me by finding more articles or paper works about this subject? I´m having a bit of trouble finding things, because in Portugal we almost don´t have nothing. My e-mail adress is catarina-vicente@hotmail.com and i would be so thankfull if anyone could help me with this. Thank tou very very very much.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      We're trying to post information to help other parents, buy posting videos about therapy we're working on with him. We've also posted about our experience as new parents of a blind child. I'm glad I found this page though, because I'm still new at this and I'm glad to find new information. Our site is bornwithnoeyes.com if anybody is interested, or has any information that will help us.

    • profile image

      AlleyCatLane 

      5 years ago

      I can't imagine being blind or coping with a blind child. Your thoughtful and caring advice will be immeasurable help to anyone facing this situation. Congrats on your purple star. It is well deserved. Blessed!

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 

      5 years ago from UK

      What wonderfully-written, caring and insightful advice on bonding with a blind baby. Through sharing your experiences, you and your daughter will help so many other parents and their blind children to develop strong and secure relationships.

    • lynnasafriend profile image

      lynnasafriend 

      6 years ago

      I love your lens, my nephew went blind about the time when he was just being able to see, it was very sad, but we go on... God Bless you...

    • gottaloveit2 profile image

      gottaloveit2 

      6 years ago

      You are SO Blessed - in your life with your gorgeous daughter and in this lens with my sprinkling of fairy dust. I haven't interacted with blind children but did have a blind dog which I had to figure out. What you've written was how I helped him too - I wore the same scent, talked to him all the time, etc. Gorgeous lens and so helpful to others in the same situation.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      6 years ago from Canada

      My babies are grown up. Your information here on raising a blind baby and helping them to bond is amazing. What a truly amazing article. It truly did deserve it's purple star award.

    • profile image

      webgain 

      6 years ago

      nice advice... i'll follow when i'll become father.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Wonderful lens! The best advice is to enjoy your baby! Somebody gave me that advice when my daughter was born, and I've given it to my daughter and other young moms.

    • medicman lm profile image

      medicman lm 

      6 years ago

      I am the father of five and I only just got my first grandchild. Tell you what... all those 'to-dos' works just as well with normal babies. What would be nice is if many more parents would realize that those perfect little gifts that God gave them need to be specially treated, no matter what their physical condition.

    • Frischy profile imageAUTHOR

      Frischy 

      6 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      @anonymous: Luis, I am so glad you took the time to leave a comment! Your message touched me deeply. You are going to have many, many enjoyable and memorable experiences with your little brother over the years, because you love him and are taking the time to learn how to best interact with him. You will be able to teach him so many things! My older daughter is sighted and the younger one is blind. The older sister taught the little one many things, including how to play video games! It is something I would not have thought she could do, but take a look at the article I wrote about games for the blind. She plays Mario games & has leveled up on Luigi's Mansion multiple times. Just by taking the time to play with your brother you will find ways for him to do things that adults might think were not possible. You have so much to offer him! I am sure you guys are going to be quite a team!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      im 14 years old and my baby brother was born blind so i decided to always try to find ways to communicate with him and some of this tips helped me its tuff having a brother like this since he is my very first brother and i had different expectations of what i could do with brother but now its all changed and my new expectations are for him to know who i am when i speak to him thats one of them

    • profile image

      AngryBaker 

      6 years ago

      Wonderful lens...

    • traveller27 profile image

      traveller27 

      6 years ago

      Great lens..and very touching. Blessed by a travelling angel.

    • SheGetsCreative profile image

      Angela F 

      6 years ago from Seattle, WA

      Great tips for parents dealing with bonding issues. I love this statement: Do not allow medical issues or concerns about the future interfere with your relationship with your child. That seems like the best advice of all. :)

    • Nancy Hardin profile image

      Nancy Carol Brown Hardin 

      6 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

      I never read this lens before...and I'm so glad I did now. This is a beautiful inspiration for families with blind children. How wonderful for both you and your child. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • marigoldina profile image

      Heather B 

      6 years ago

      So touching! I agree - the most important thing of all is to enjoy your baby. Blind or not, he or she is the most precious thing in your life!

    • Wendy Leanne profile image

      Wendy Leanne 

      6 years ago from Texas

      Wonderful lens!

      *~blessed~*

    • hsschulte profile image

      hsschulte 

      7 years ago

      Wonderful information from someone who knows. ~Blessed

    • Frischy profile imageAUTHOR

      Frischy 

      7 years ago from Kentucky, USA

      @anonymous: Thank you! :-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      As the mother of four children who have normal vision, I have to admit I have never thought about how you would bond with a blind baby. This is a wonderful lens because you make it so personal as well as giving such helpful tips and advice to other parents who may find them in the same position as you.

      I have promoted this lens on the SquidU Forum - I hope it gets you some traffic :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      7 years ago

      Brilliant and shows your loving nature to the world! You share vital tips and encouraging words for people with visually impaired children. God bless and keep well. Much love. :)

    • ajtyne profile image

      AJ 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Excellent lens! Very useful to parents of blind or sighted infants, actually!

    • LaineA profile image

      Amy Stephens 

      7 years ago from Missouri

      Very important information about bonding with a blind baby. Such a great lens.

    • Gayle Mclaughlin profile image

      Gayle 

      7 years ago from McLaughlin

      What an informative lens for all parents--not just for parents of blind babies! You write with authority and discernment

    • profile image

      Momose 

      7 years ago

      So many of these wonderful suggestions are valuable for any baby, but must be so critical for stimulating and comforting a blind baby. My nephew was blind at birth, but fortunately, after several surgeries, was able to see eventually. I remember how he would become still when we were near, and would still search for us, listening so attentively. I know there must be many needing the information from this great article!

    • profile image

      jseven lm 

      7 years ago

      This is a great lens and a lot of helpful and precious information. I love the passion you have for your child and children that are blind.

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 

      7 years ago from Central Florida

      This is crucial information for a parent of a blind baby. Thank you for creating this web page to help others.

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