From "Yogababy: Exercises to Help You Bond With Your Baby Physically, Emotionally, and Spiritually" (Broadway Books). Used with permission.

We will begin with the center of the baby's body, the belly, which I call the permanent center. Work spiritually with your baby, accentuating the importance of welcoming this unique star to our Earth.

After the cord is cut, your baby may no longer receive physical nourishment from you internally, but you continue to nourish him externally and emotionally. Symbolically, the cord is cut so the relationship between mother and baby may shift from the physical union in the womb to an emotional attachment outside the womb, as you are now two separate beings capable of developing a bond. Because of the great significance of this permanent center, a baby receives much comfort from stimulation in the area around the navel.

You are about to create a very special bond with your baby. Follow these postures in the order in which they are listed here and concentrate on feeling the connection between yourself and your baby. Note that the younger your baby, the shorter the session should be. Sometimes as little as three to five minutes will be enough to begin. (The postures are appropriate for babies up to 1 year.)

The baby will usually be placed face up on the floor on a padded blanket between your legs, or in front of your crossed legs with his head farthest away from your body so he can easily see you at all times. Check to be sure he is not hungry and has not soiled himself before proceeding to the next exercise in the session. You can always stop and rest a bit, then begin again.

Sense the Rhythm

1. Place your preferred hand gently on your baby's stomach and feel the rhythms of her breath and her stomach gurgling. You'll feel the expansion and contraction of breath and the lift of the diaphragm, as well as the stomach churning.

2. Bond with your baby by joining your breath with hers. Feel her rhythm, then match it.

3. After a few breaths, you will be breathing in unison, which will be very comforting to both you and your baby. A calming hand on the baby's belly is a way for her to stay connected. She can feel comforted, centered, and supported emotionally.

Colon Tracing

1. Start by tracing your baby's colon in a gentle, slow massage with the first two fingers of one hand while ascending the colon up the right side of his body.

2. Move to the transverse colon, running across the navel area from the right side to the left.

3. Then move to the descending colon, down the left side of the body. This technique will be useful in case your baby develops colic. Babies with colic often pull their legs tighter into their body and seem as if they are in spasm. Don't be afraid to use your hand to smooth the area that seems to be in spasm; the warmth of a hand can be helpful in relieving the distress. Babies respond very well to this. It is also a great way to relieve gas pains.

4. Do this five times.

Belly Breathing

1. To encourage belly breathing, which babies often do naturally as they inhale, wait till your baby inhales. After she breathes in, cup her buttocks and legs together in one hand and bring her legs up to her stomach, bending the knees, for just a few moments. Hold this position while the baby inhales and exhales several times.

2. Then release the legs as the baby exhales. This simple movement encourages deeper breathing. Do this five times, always in conjunction with your baby's breath.

Belly Cupping

This form of touch is designed to provide a gentle massage to the internal organs and the skin.

1. Take the baby's whole belly and cup it with one or both hands, depending on how small or large it is. Feel the baby inhale.

2. As the baby is about to release his breath, release the hold gently.

3. Take hold again as the baby is inhaling a breath. The baby's reaction should be one of contentment. Remember that gentle massage of the belly stimulates digestion and encourages the natural release of gas.

4. Do this five times. Rest for a few seconds in between the repetitions.

Take note of the reactions from your baby throughout the session so you become familiar with what he likes and dislikes. This will help you determine what to expect {and how to adapt your response) in future sessions.

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