Dad and baby bonding tips
Just picture it: your newborn baby is intermittently screaming, while clutching at your partner’s swollen and tender breast, and nothing seems to settle him. Your exhausted, sleep-deprived partner remarks on how tired she feels and is in need of a break. Sitting up against the headboard trying to study work papers for tomorrow’s conference, you realize it isn’t tomorrow; it’s already today! Arghhh.
At times men can feel totally in the dark about tending to their babies’ incessant needs and alleviating any stress that their partners might have. How can men bond with their babies and not feel so ‘good for nothing? How can they create a win-win situation with their partners?
Father baby bonding – importance
Becoming a father is probably the most important event in a man’s life. Being able to enjoy time with your baby while you develop a loving and strong bond with your baby is giving you and your baby’s relationship a head start.
Being a great dad starts even earlier than birth but, after birth, there are definitely many ways for dad and baby to establish a close, loving, and long-lasting relationship.
Although a single parent can raise mentally healthy children, establish a great relationship with dad is wonderful for a baby’s development. Daddy time is very important and new dads should make the most of their time with their babies.
When do babies start bonding with dad?
Babies love being stimulated; they love being loved and caressed and talked to.
Babies start bonding with dad the moment they start spending time together.
Try to make the most of your paternity leave and dedicate as much of it to your new family as you can. If you don’t have paternity leave – and that sucks – you can still bond with your baby, under any circumstances as long as both you and baby enjoy spending time together. Keep baby close and help to provide baby rest. When your baby cries, attend to her and help her mother with feeding.
How can dads bond with breastfed babies?
When babies are born, it feels as though the vast majority of what they do is breastfeed – especially for the first weeks. Breastfeeding is a very important part of a newborn’s life but there are many things a dad can do for his new baby when the baby is not at the breast.
Here are just a few:
- One-on-one time. You have just become a new father and although these first few weeks are mainly going to be about baby and mother, there are times when dads can bond and spend quality time developing a strong bond with their little one. You might feel overwhelmed with your new baby, your ‘new’ partner, and your new life. Make sure you spend time with your baby from the very beginning of your life as a new dad
- Skin to skin contact. The senses are very important for human development. Touch is one of the more comforting senses and being in contact with the naked skin of a loved one is one of the most rewarding love experiences. Just go for it and do it as much as you want to and as often as you can. Take off your top, leave baby with just a nappy on and immerse yourself in the wonders of creating this special bond with baby
- Bedtime routine. There are certain things that need to be done before baby settles down for the night. While your baby’s mother has a bit of time for herself why don’t you take charge of the baby’s bedtime routine? Use this special time as a great opportunity for dad and baby bonding and a way to develop a deep and meaningful relationship from the early days. Give your baby a massage, make lots of eye contact, sing songs, talk or play peek-a-boo while you change your baby’s diaper and put her pajamas on
- Diaper duty. This needs to be done many times every day, and taking charge of diaper duty is one of the many ways for dads to bond with their babies. You might want to start elimination communication and that would also be an amazing task to take on as a way to be well involved in your baby’s upbringing
- Comforting baby. For newborns and young babies, breastfeeding is very comforting but it’s not the only way and not always the best. As babies grow there’s a time when they suffer as they’re falling asleep because they understand it’s a time they’re not with mom and dad and they feel as though they’re on their own. Many babies might be reluctant to breastfeed when they realize they fall asleep at the breast. Being comforted by their father makes babies feel well and safe, as dad has no breasts. It’s a great opportunity for father-baby bonding.
Dad and baby bonding tips
Research shows that fathers sometimes worry about building strong relationships with their children. There are many ways to improve the relationship between a father and his baby. Let’s have a look at the different ways dads can make the most of their relationships with their little ones.
Tip #1 – Attitude
Adopt a natural curiosity to learn and grow with your baby. Your partner has given birth. Your child is born. Nothing will ever be the same, including the routine you had before birth. A positive and versatile attitude is essential to adapting to this wondrous new life bestowed upon you. It is a miraculous new beginning, full of constant challenges.
Tip #2 – Be a fascinated observer – just like your newborn baby
Don’t be baffled or shy. Soak it all up! What the heck, develop a rejuvenated obsession with your partner’s breasts and nipples. Be there, and be part of it all. Kids can bond with their father as much as with their mother. When children grow older they’ll know who was there and who dedicated time to them – even if it was making silly faces or holding them when that was just what they needed.
Tip #3 – Look after mum
It can be pretty tough on mum so be sure to look after her. We need to recognize and support the mother-child attachment, especially at the beginning of a baby’s life. Your partner needs to know you’re there and she can count on you. She was able to, during her pregnancy; you were supportive while she was giving birth. Now she needs your support as a parent.
Even if she’s breastfeeding – and you can’t do that yourself – be supportive. Tell her how proud you are of her and what an amazing mother she is. Why don’t you just get her some water or rearrange her pillows during some late night feedings?
Tip #4 – Our spiritual decrees demand ‘Be hands on’
Dads should assume most of the household chores. And while they’re at it, why not get a grip on the nappy? Nappy changes are intimacy builders. Don’t yell ‘Eww… smelly!’ Slow down and give yourself and your baby a few moments to ‘chat’ and then calmly resume changing your baby’s nappy. Partake in and share your experiences. Create quality time.
If your baby is breastfed and you’re not co-sleeping, some nights you can take the night shift on board. Bring baby to mum in the night for feeds then put her back to sleep afterwards. If your baby has a bottle, then do some of the midnight shift.
Tip: Co-sleeping babies feel more secure so they tend to cry less and sleep more; therefore, so will you!
Have a look at BellyBelly’s article Co-Sleeping – Is It Safe To Sleep With My Baby?
Playing games is also an important part of hands-on bonding with your baby. Babies love playing peek-a-boo. Dads can be great at inducing wonder and stimulation in their babies. Relish the moments. It’s like serenading your baby to soothing music as you feel the warmth of your baby melting into your chest.
Tip #5 – Get involved
Do post-natal courses as a family. Include a baby massage course, which can really help create a bond between you and your baby. There are myriad benefits of baby massage, including improved sleep patterns and reducing stress – for baby and parents.
What about being part of her daily routine? Find a special song that’s meaningful to your father and child bond. Talk to your child, no matter what her age. Play, soothe, sing – just be there.
Tip #6 – Journal it
Uncover the mystery surrounding men’s role in early fatherhood. Start a daily baby journal with your partner. The experiences won’t be the same for her as they are for you but it’s a great way to keep the memory of your experiences. It can also be fascinating to read later, as the baby gets older and you start to forget all the things you really wanted to remember. Compare journals with your partner, talk about any difficulties as they arise and forge something special beyond the rigors of day-to-day parenting.
Embrace these times. They don’t come around so often but they are the most cherished.
Dad struggling to bond with baby
Some fathers feel they aren’t the greatest parents and they struggle to bond with their kids.
You should start taking an active role from the very beginning of your baby’s life. This means as early as possible – even before your little one is born. Bonding can start during pregnancy.
Some fathers find it difficult to bond with their children because ‘good times’ are seen as part of the mothers’ role. If, as a father, you hear ‘It’s baby and daddy’s time to bond’ and your blood sugar suddenly drops at the thought of what you’re supposed to do, take a deep breath, take off your shirt and place your baby on your bare chest. Look at her in the eyes and enjoy your time together.
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