Many dads can sometimes feel left out of the relationship when they see how close Mom and Baby are. It takes time and effort for dads to find ways to bond with their new baby in the early months, especially when Mom is breastfeeding well. Here are 8 tips suggested for bonding—without using a bottle or feeding the baby:
- Wear the baby (sling, carrier, wrap), which allows the baby to feel, smell, and see Dad.
- Bathe the baby, whether in a small tub or in the big tub with Baby and Dad in skin-to-skin care.
- Get on the floor with Baby, view the world from his or her location, and talk, touch, tickle, sing, read, and hold him or her.
- Diaper changes will keep Dad and Baby in close eye contact, allowing for soothing and reassurance from dad to baby.
- Take the baby out of the house, solo! This one-on-one time helps Dad build his own relationship with Baby, allowing him to learn about his baby’s needs and how to meet them without use of a bottle.
- Read to the baby. This can start even prior to birth. Reading is a brain development behavior and Baby loves to hear Dad’s voice.
- Massage the baby. Have Dad take a class on infant massage and learn how to gently soothe, touch, and safely and effectively massage his little one.
- Sing to the baby, whether you can carry a tune or not! And if you play an instrument, add that to the serenade.
- Burp the baby after each feeding. Dads just seem to have that special touch when it comes to burping; I’ve seen it time and again over the past 20+ years!
- Settle baby into his or her own bed after Mom has completed a middle-of-the-night feeding.
- Take pictures/videos of Baby for Mom and/or Dad to have when away from the baby.
- Take advantage of any parental leave offered at work and plan to spend that time with just Mom and Baby, increasing the bonding and joys of those early weeks.
Can you add to this list? Many new fathers are very creative in finding opportunities for bonding with their little ones. One young man, I remember, was so proud to have found “his” way… he placed his son safely into a sling on his body, went outside, and shot hoops with his son (safely, of course)! What a special touch.
By Kathy Parkes