Mom’s carry the baby for 9 months and experience everything that comes with being pregnant. For these reasons, they have an inherit bond with the baby. Some Dads struggle to create that bond with their newborn. But as we approach Father’s Day, it’s important to share ways in which a Dad can bond with your new baby. Here are some ways to create that bond:
- Skin to Skin – Any parent can practice skin to skin time with their new baby. Some refer to this practice as “Kangaroo Care” as it focuses on holding the baby chest to chest with skin on skin. This practice is often used in a NICU setting for premature babies, but the practice also helps to calm newborns in the early days at home. Most new parents love holding their babies skin to skin and it is a sure way to build the bond between parent and baby.
- Baby Wearing – This practice involves “wearing” the baby in a wrap or carrier, usually on the front of the parents’ body. This is similar to Kangaroo Care, but it can be practiced over clothing throughout the day with the baby, and also when going out in public with the baby. Babies who are “worn” typically cry much less and are quiet and content being “held” within the carrier. This practice allows the parent to keep the baby close, but to also have their hands free for other duties at home.
- Feeding – Depending on the feeding method, feeding time can be a perfect way to bond with your baby. If the baby is breastfeeding, the non-feeding parent can be a part of this process by preparing the baby for the feeding. This can include picking the baby up, unwrapping the baby if swaddled, changing a dirty diaper, and bringing the baby to the feeding parent. Burping and settling after the feeding can also be done by the non-feeding parent. If bottle feeding, the time spent feeding is perfect for bonding. Allow the baby to look up at your face as you hold the bottle, talk to the baby as this is the perfect distance for the baby to see your face. Mid-way through the feeding, it is important to switch sides to allow the baby to develop the muscles on both sides of their neck and jaw. Continue to gaze at your baby throughout the course of the feeding.
- Playtime – Play is a perfect way to bond with your baby! For very young babies, “play” can mean many different things including walking around the home holding the baby and “showing” them around, laying down on the floor with your baby during tummy time, reading stories or singing songs, and showing your baby toys that help to stimulate them. Building your own games and silly routines establish the unique bond that you share with Baby, and each parent will usually have a different style of play which helps to differentiate the relationship between parent and child.
- Bedtime Routines – The routines we set up with our babies at bedtime can also be a wonderful way to bond. Many families will include bathtime, short stories or songs, feeding, and rocking before putting the baby down to sleep. By establishing these consistent bedtime routines, parents can establish a loving bond with their baby.
- Screen-free Time – The demands and habits of today’s parents often means multi-tasking many different things while also caring for their children. Remember the importance of putting down your phones and making frequent human connections with your baby throughout the day! Babies are social creatures, and they learn best by watching and listening to you. They will seek out connections with eye contact and vocalizations, so try to remember to remain present when your baby is initiating these social interactions with you.