When you see a newborn baby, what is your first impression? A sweet bundle of gurgles and coos? A vulnerable innocent with wide impressionable eyes? Or perhaps, more thoughtfully, you wonder who this little person will be and what they might become. Without a doubt, there is a mixture of emotion and thought as new parents meet their little one for the first time. As the primary caregivers, parents have such an incredible influence on the newborn in its first few weeks and months.
The Love Hormone
From the first moment the baby is given to his mother to hold, a special bond is created. Baby looks at mother for the first time, mother smiles back. Yet there is more going on here than meets the eye; there is actually a bio-chemical reaction going on within this very first interaction.
The hormone, oxytocin—also called the “love hormone”—is at its highest just after birth. It promotes bonding between mother and baby. It also influences the production of vasopressin in the father, a hormone encouraging him to bond with mother and child just after birth. This hormone influences the father's brain towards more paternal tendencies when the child's mother and he cohabitate, tempering his aggression and influencing his protective instincts.
In ancient days, the bonding of the baby with its parents actually increased the infant’s chances for survival. It also helped the baby to thrive. Perhaps we are not so far removed from our ancestors after all...