Although now there is science to back up the importance of father involvement, we don’t really need confirmation to know how important it is for children to grow up with an engaged and involved dad.
However, one of the questions I wrestled with over the term of my wife’s pregnancy and in the beginning after my daughter’s birth was how would I establish a bond with my baby? I knew my wife had an advantage obviously because she carried our daughter to full term and begin breastfeeding right after birth. I knew there would be a natural connection between them, but I couldn’t help wondering how I would establish a similar connection.
My daughter is now approaching seven months old and we have a really great bond between us. Here are some things I did to try and build that all-important bond with my daughter.
Bonding With Baby – Dad Tips
Bonding Before Birth
- One thing I did even before birth was I attended all of the doctor’s appointments with my wife. Going with her to the doctor not only helped our connection with each other, but it kept me updated on the progress of the pregnancy and built up my confidence that I was contributing something positive as well. Plus, when you get in the habit of going, it becomes natural to continue attending your baby’s checkups at the pediatrician.
- Another thing dads can do is to attend a baby-care class. Many local hospitals and early childhood organizations offer classes for both parents.
- Talk to the baby. At around 34 weeks of pregnancy, your baby can learn to recognize your voice if you talk or sing close to your partner’s stomach. That is a true bonding with your baby starting already there.
Bonding After Birth
- Use physical contact often. Hold your baby as much as you can. Tickles, touches, and snuggles are good too. Not only will it help you feel involved, but it will also help build bonds between you and your child.
- Become involved in your child’s routine. With my wife breastfeeding, I had to get involved in different ways. The deal my wife and I made was I would burp our daughter after she was fed. I also changed a lot of diapers and did the bathing of the baby.
- Sing, talk, and read to your baby. It doesn’t have to be traditional nursery rhymes or lullabies either. Our daughter seemed soothed early on by African drumming, but also seemed calmed when National Public Radio was on as well. I have talked with other dads who have read Time magazine or the Sunday paper to their babies.
- Make time for play. My daughter and I have had great fun when I’ve held her like I was bench-pressing her or when I hold her up high over my head while making airplane noises. Be creative and do what feels natural. You’ll see those smiles and giggles and know your child is having fun. Here are some Tips on how to play and inteact with your newborn.
- Take lots of pictures or video. How does picture or video taking build bonds? Well, part of securing a good bond with your baby has to do with your attitude. If you feel calm, happy, and confident, most likely you’re baby is feeling that as well. Pictures and videos you share with others will illicit those positive comments and compliments all new dads need to hear.
- Make sure you have some alone time with your baby. Babies interact differently with each parent. This time can be an exploratory time for both you and your baby. This is a huge way to build strong bonds with your baby.
Although all of this may sound like common sense way for bonding with baby, it doesn’t always come naturally to every new dad. I think the most important thing to keep in mind is there are always other dads out there to talk to. Don’t be shy about talking to some of your friends who have had babies of their own. You’ll more than likely find that you both had similar feelings and experiences.