The emotions and attitudes of mothers towards their infants are crucial for the child’s well-being and development. Some mothers experience a delay in the onset of maternal affection after childbirth and occasionally a longer lasting failure to bond will ensue. Little is known about the precise prevalence of these difficulties, how they relate to maternal mental health, how they develop over time and what their biological and psychosocial correlates are. In research studies the mother-infant relationship has traditionally been assessed using observational methods but these are time consuming and not suited for screening in clinical practice. Two self-rating instruments have recently been developed to assess maternal bonding. Both can be used in large samples of recently delivered mothers including those suspected to be at high risk of bonding disorders. In this study, the psychometric properties of the 8-item Mother-to-Infant Bonding Scale (MIB) and the 25-item screening questionnaire for mother–infant bonding disorders, namely the Postpartum Bonding Questionnaire (PBQ), were examined in a sample of first-time mothers in order to establish their reliability and validity. Ninety-six women completed the MIB, PBQ and the Kennerley Blues Scale on day 2–4 postpartum. Both bonding instruments demonstrated acceptable reliability and reasonable validity, with the exception of the PBQ subscale of risk of abuse.