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There’s such a massive push for mothers to bond with their babies, and maybe that comes from centuries of evolutionary instincts. But what about dad? Where does he come into play? As important as it is for moms to bond with their babies, dads need that time too.
The issue with this, though, is that many fathers don’t know how to foster that bond. Especially in the very beginning stages when all baby seems to want is to be with mom. There are several different ways to bond in each stage of fatherhood.
Bonding In The First Few Hours
Dads don’t really get very much bonding time in the first few hours of their baby’s life, especially if mom has decided to breastfeed. When the baby is first born, dads can be a great help by offering to hold the baby while mom rests.
While she may be reluctant to let her new babe go, it’s helpful to remind her that you’d like some time with the baby as well.
Starting a father-child bond as early as possible will be beneficial to your relationship later on. When bonding with your newborn, cradle them close to you while you hold or feed them. They’re so used to being inside the womb; doing this helps them calm their body and adjust to the outside world.
Take your shirt off and have some skin-to-skin time with your newborn. There is a whole range of proven benefits for both baby and dad.
It’s also important to remember that the hospital days are going to be focused mainly on mom and baby. However, you can certainly eke in some time with your new little one when mom needs a rest.
Bonding In The First Few Months
After you all come home, you’ll have more opportunities to bond with your little bundle of joy. The first six weeks after birth are tough on moms, so offering to take care of the baby while she rests is smart. Offering help gives mom much-needed recuperation time, and you get to bond with your baby.
A great way to help is to offer to take over a feeding. If your partner has chosen to breastfeed, it’s worth asking if she wants to pump sometimes too. This way, you can give the baby a bottle, and they’ll connect you with being a source of love and nourishment.
Once your little one gets a little older, they’ll be able to see your face more clearly. Your baby will develop their social smile, and playing gets to be a lot more fun. During playtime, try making silly faces at them and see if they mimic you. Peek-a-boo is also a fun game to play that’ll help with their development too.
It’s also totally worth investing in a baby carrier. This gear not only keeps baby close to you, but it gives you free hands. That way, you can foster your bond by providing baby with comfort and security while also getting other things done too.
Here are some other ways to maintain your relationship with your little one:
- Try out infant massage: There are tons of benefits to infant massage, so it’s like killing a whole flock of birds with one stone.
- Designate some “daddy and me” time: Having a special time for the two of you gives you both an opportunity to warm up to each other. Plus, it gives mom a much-needed break.
- Change a diaper, man: I’m not saying you need to take on diaper duty all the time, though I’m sure mom wouldn’t complain. But changing a few diapers a day shows your baby that you’re there to care for them too.
- Take on some of the bedtime duties: Many parents find that splitting bedtime duty helps their children feel more connected to both parents. You may offer to get pajamas on and sing a lullaby or take on baby’s bedtime feeding.
- Just be present: Above all, be there. Your baby will see that you care and they’ll grow up feeling like they can talk to you.
Bonding Beyond One Year
The bond you worked so hard for in the first 12 months of your baby’s life is the groundwork for your relationship. If you’ve done the work in the first few months, your baby will actively want to spend more time with you.
The key at this age is to be consistent. Your baby will see that you’re there with them, and they’ll continue to associate you with being a source of comfort. After your baby grows a little more, bonding becomes more extensive and fun.
Here are a few ways you can get involved with your little one at this age:
- Help with the day-to-day tasks: Taking over the morning or bedtime routine a few days a week will help your child see that they can bond with you and mom.
- Let your little one “help” you: While your baby may not be talking just yet, they still have a natural desire to help. Give them a “task” even if it’s the most mundane thing. For example, if you’re washing your car, give them a bowl of water and a washcloth and let them “wipe” the tires. They may just play in the water bowl, but you’re still spending time with them.
- Make reading together a priority: Even if you think your baby is too young to understand books, reading with them familiarizes your baby with the sound of your voice. Plus, when you make different sounds for each character, they eventually learn to differentiate characters.
- Take them outside: Nothing is better than a little fresh air. Dads are typically the “active” parent, meaning they’re more likely to roughhouse and get dirty with their kids. Taking your baby to the park is the perfect opportunity to play together.
Dads Matter Too
There’s such a big push for moms to bond with their baby that, unfortunately, dads usually get left out of the picture. Little do people know, there’s a lot of research on the benefits of father-child bonding.
Better emotional development and the ability to trust are two of the most prominent benefits to me. So if you want your little one to grow up with good emotional intelligence, I suggest grabbing your little one and heading to the park today. Right now (unless it’s raining, of course).