It’s no secret that bonding with a new baby can often come more naturally for moms than dads. Carrying a child, delivery, and breastfeeding yield a physical closeness, compounded by a mother’s instinct, and a strong desire to nurture. Often, fathers feel less of a connection with the new family member until the baby gets a little older. But a strong partnership between mom and dad from the beginning of the parenthood journey will yield precious family time, as well as a solid foundation to help tackle a lack of sleep and the many other challenges that arise. These dad and baby bonding ideas are a great way to build a foundation of teamwork and get to know that new little bundle of joy.
A dad embracing baby skin-to-skin is one of the most simple, immediate, and effective ways to bond after birth. Baby can be calmed and soothed just by being held closely and allowing the infant’s skin to meet the father’s, and dad will feel the physical closeness moms experience through pregnancy, delivery, and nursing. The benefits of skin-to-skin care for dad and baby are almost identical to those for mom and baby and include fathers being more sensitive to the needs of the child, as well as increased brain development, immune functioning, quality of sleep, and digestion for baby.
Take a Walk
Fresh air and exercise is a great way for dad to bond with his baby and gives mom a little time to rest, relax, or recover. Evening walks after work during the infamous “witching hour” are an excellent way for dad to spend quality time with the baby and decompress, while baby settles and enjoys the rhythm of the walk and the new sights and sounds of the outdoors. Strollers are great, but why not try out a baby carrier for deeper bonding and closeness?
Time for a bath! This typical evening activity is another way for working fathers to bond with their babies when they return home. Bath time is the perfect time to get creative and have fun together. Read stories, splash around, play with toys, or sing and talk to your little one while you wash.
If mom is breastfeeding, it might be tricky for dad to get some quality feeding time. Once baby’s weight and a nursing routine are well established, try working in time for dad to give a bottle while mom gets away for some alone time. Another option is to team up for the nightly feedings with mother waking and nursing the newborn, followed by father burping, diapering, and soothing back to sleep. This team approach not only gives both parents quality time with the baby but also lessens the amount of time each parent is awake and stretches the amount of sleep between feedings — even if it’s ever so slightly!
Touch and massage, like skin-to-skin, has been proven to yield many benefits for baby. Since many dads struggle with the lack of interaction new babies can provide, this bonding experience is a special one that we highly recommend, as you get to engage your new child physically. Gently stroke and knead each part of baby’s body, including the head, neck, shoulders, upper back, waist, thighs, feet, and hands.
about the author…Anna Rogers is a transplant from the Carolinas with a background in marketing and graphic communications. She is a wife and mother who loves to garden, cook, and practice yoga. Anna is passionate about travel, which at its core is really a passion for people, as she believes people and community are what truly bring life and beauty into a place.
Originally printed in the pages of Simply Family Magazine’s June 2018 issue.
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featured photo by Jana Graham Photography