Most of the time, it’s easy for mom to be able to bond with her baby. She’s been feeling her little one inside her for nine months, gave birth and then is feeding the baby frequently (or for what feels like all day!). But what about dad? Where does he fit in when it comes to caring for and bonding with his child? It’s not uncommon for fathers to feel left out once baby arrives, but here are some things dad can do to bond with his child from early on:
Yes, I know this is nothing glamorous and in fact, quite smelly, but a great way to spend time with baby. Newborns need their diapers changed about 12 times a day. That’s several minutes, a dozen times a day when you can have 1-on-1 time with your child. Don't let the fear of getting dirty spoil your fun...see it as an adventure! How many diapers can you change before your baby pees or poops on you?! ;-)
My husband loved this one. He found that our kids had more fun and enjoyed bath time more if he got into our big tub with them, rather than washing them in the baby one on the counter. They could kick their legs, experiment with splashing and play with the toys and water all around them! My babies would hear their daddy start the bath water and immediately start flapping their arms and legs while coo-ing in excitement! It can be a special thing that only you do with them that they’ll learn to look forward to.
My kids have always had fairly dry skin and my husband and I would always rub some coconut oil on them after bath time or before bed when we’d put their pajamas on. My husband started taking this over as a part of bath time and it was a nice “wind-down” from all the fun they’d been having in the tub. You don’t have to take a class or be a massage therapist, just use a gentle hand and they’ll love it!
You can sing a song, talk about your day, even read a sports magazine to them! You speaking to your baby teaches them that they’re important to you and helps them learn the social interaction of verbal communication (I speak, you listen, you speak, I listen). As they get older, they’ll love picture books, or books with sounds (or you can always create your own!) to read with you. Just don’t be surprised if they find a favorite and want to read it over and over. ;-)
If your baby is bottle fed, or once they’re 6 months old and begin eating solids, dad can be the official non-breast feeder! Watching your child learn about tastes and textures is quite amusing and is sure to be a good time for all involved. Just be prepared for more to come out than goes in!
You might be thinking, “Hey wait a minute! How is my doing housework a way to bond with my baby? This sounds fishy….”, but I promise you, it’s true! I love baby wearing, it’s really the only way to get things done with a baby, especially if you have older children. I found a baby wrap that both my husband and I could wear, so when he was outside mowing the yard, walking the dog, vacuuming, etc, he could wear our kids while doing it! Baby was happy to be cuddling with dad, dad was happy he could get done the things he needed to while watching the baby, and I was happy to have a break to take an uninterrupted shower! ;-)
I know this isn’t exactly baby bonding time, but it is crucial for your baby. When mom feels taken care of and like the house isn’t in total disarray, she’s more relaxed and more likely to enjoy just being in the moment with her baby without worry and stress creeping in to disrupt things. And this is good for baby! (And you too….as my husband says, “Happy wife = happy life”!) So throw in a load of laundry or dishes, make sure the trash is taken out and maybe make dinner (hey, she’s not going to mind that tacos are the only thing on your menu so long as she didn’t have to cook them!). You supporting mom shows your baby that you care for them both, and it demonstrates caring and respect from an early age.
So dads, try one, try them all, but I guarantee you that you and baby will both enjoy the quality time you spend together, regardless of what activity you choose. This will set the foundation for your relationship going forward….make it a strong one!