–by Sara Borgstede (originally posted on the author’s blog, The Holy Mess, on November 14, 2017)

Have you recently given birth to a baby or brought a new family member into your home through foster care or adoption? Maybe you are a relative or friend looking for Christmas gifts for a new little one in your life. I’m thrilled to bring you this guide to gifts that promote attachment and bonding.

We were foster parents for 6 years to 35+ children and currently parent two children who came to us through foster care and now adoption. I highly recommend the following items to promote attachment with your new family member, or any child who is struggling with attachment.

To understand more about attachment, please read these posts:

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD): What is RAD and Why Should You Care?

4 Categories of Attachment Disorder

Attachment Therapy: When a New Start is Scary

15 Gifts that Promote Attachment and Bonding

Use the following items to promote attachment and bonding with your baby or child. Some of the items might seem like they are only appropriate for babies and toddlers, but remember that children who are older need to recreate some of the activities that were lost during important years. Elementary school children and even teens need to cuddle, touch, laugh, and get sweets from you in order to promote healthy bonding.

Ergo baby and toddler carrier – This Ergo baby carrier is great for babies and toddlers. It helps protect your back while promoting close contact. Wear your baby or toddler for as many hours as you possibly can while doing other activities around the house and in the community.

Co sleeper – If possible, allow baby to sleep in your room some or all of the time when first developing attachment. This co-sleeper keeps baby near you without the worries of rolling over on him or her in your bed.

Cozy fleece throw – This beautiful blanket is perfect for mom and baby or child to cuddle up in together. Watch TV together, read books together, or use it as a tent for some extra cuddle time. For an older child with sensory issues, use it with 2 adults as a gentle sensory swing.

Child’s play tent – This child’s play tent is a great spot for the two of you to cuddle in close for reading, cuddling, and quiet play time together.

Burt’s Bees Milk and Honey lotion – Use lotion to massage your child’s arms, legs, and back after a bath or anytime during the day. For older children, give a hand massage.

Burt’s Bees Milk and Honey body wash – Bathe your baby with a scent that is the same as yours so that he makes the connection to you. Give older children a body wash that is the same as yours. This Burt’s Bees Milk and Honey scent is perfect.

Caramels – Nancy Thomas recommends “caramel bonding time” for older children who need to strengthen attachment. Feed the child small pieces of caramel directly into his or her mouth while looking into his eyes, singing, or telling stories. The caramels are sweet like a mother’s milk and promote a similar attachment as happened with a baby who was feeding. (Then after the kids go to bed, mom can enjoy some caramels herself for some self-care.)

Photo wallet -Use this card holder to create a mini-album of family photos for your child to carry with him.

Play tunnel – Play peek-a-boo in a tunnel to promote eye contact. Don’t forget to laugh and have fun together, which also promotes attachment!

Children’s musical instruments -Music and rhythm are soothing for children’s overworked sensory systems and promote healthy attachment. Incorporate music into your child’s play and routine as often as possible.

Record your voice stuffed animal – Record a loving message for your baby or child.

Pizza Party Social skills game – This fun game teaches important social skills such as listening, taking turns, and using appropriate tone of voice.

Hairbrush – Use this hairbrush with natural scalp massage to give your child gentle sensory stimulation.

Faces Memory Game – A fun matching game that shows children’s faces from all around the world.

Hammock – Cuddle up together in this sturdy hammock for reading or an afternoon nap. Swinging soothes the sensory system and promotes attachment.

These gifts are wonderful for children and families to enjoy, while also promoting healthy bonding and attachment. Happy last-minute shopping!