Celebrating Dads: How To Help Fathers Bond With Their Babies
Fathers are extremely important figures in children’s lives, so it’s important to nurture and celebrate that bond - even from birth!
Parenthood is a much different experience for men than for women. A woman gets to carry a baby in her body for nine long months, feeling her baby’s movement along the way, which starts the loving bond between mother and child. For many fathers, the intense bond doesn’t begin until the arrival of their baby, and many are left wondering how to form a secure attachment with their child in the same way that mothers do. Fathers are extremely important figures in children’s lives, so it’s important to nurture and celebrate that bond - even from birth!
Bonding refers to the intense emotional and physical attachment between parent and baby. This bond creates strong feelings of love, protection, hope, and security. The bond between a parent and child causes them to enjoy being close to one another in a mutually secure and beneficial relationship. Don’t fret if this bond doesn’t occur right away, because for fathers, bonding often takes time and patience. Research shows that there’s no reason to feel guilty about not spending every second holding and cuddling your child in order to establish a secure bond; bonding actually can take place gradually over time, even when there is temporary separation between a parent and a child. Bonding isn’t always this instantaneous, magical moment between a parent and their baby, and that’s okay!
How can fathers bond with their babies?
Plenty of skin-to-skin contact.
Skin-to-skin touch is vital to a baby’s development. Mothers instinctively spend plenty of time doing skin-to-skin contact, starting from the moment the doctors lay a baby on her chest after birth. Breastfeeding also provides ample time for skin-to-skin contact. Fathers aren’t often encouraged to spend time doing skin-to-skin with their baby, but it’s important for bonding! Human touch is comforting to your little one, so in the same way that a mother begins skin-to-skin soon after birth, have Dad spend some time in the hospital holding his baby across his chest or at his shoulder.
Talking to your baby.
Babies learn to differentiate between voices while still in the womb, so chances are, your baby recognizes Dad’s voice right away after birth. Dads should spend ample time talking to their babies, narrating the world around them, and giving lots of eye contact. Newborn babies have immature eyesight, so be sure to stay close to your baby’s face while talking to him. You can talk about anything, even just the events of the day, or you can also use key words such as caregivers’ or siblings’ names, names of pets, or places you go frequently.
Singing to your baby.
Singing is just as important as talking. Babies pick up on rhythm and tone, and singing can be a great way to soothe your baby to sleep or entertain her if she’s getting fussy. Learn some common lullabies, such as Itsy-Bitsy Spider, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Rock-A-Bye Baby, Clementine, Are You Sleeping?, or Somewhere Over The Rainbow. You can also make up your own songs or lyrics, which is equally pleasing to your little one!
Playing with your baby.
Although newborns can’t interact much, they can still enjoy playtime! Dads often bring a more energetic, animated, and silly energy to playtime than moms do, so it’s important that your baby has plenty of time to play with both caregivers. You can carry your baby around the house while naming different objects, or take your baby on a tour of the grocery store, naming items as you shop. You can invest in black-and-white flash cards or board books, which are intriguing to newborns. You can lay your baby on the floor and gently spin a mobile overhead. You can hold your baby and do a little dance to some fun music. Newborns can enjoy play just as much as older babies!
Wearing your baby.
Babywearing is beneficial to both caregiver and child. Giving Dad a chance to wear the baby can give him a sense of what it was like to carry a baby for nine months. There are many types of carriers to choose from (ring sling, woven, wrap, or structured), so consider letting Dad pick one out that seems comfortable and fashionable to him. Dads can wear their babies on hikes, while running errands, at the park, at the zoo, or at the mall. Babywearing helps facilitate the bond between parent and child by promoting closeness and security. The KeaBabies Baby Wrap Carrier comes in a variety of colors and can be used by dads, too!
Mirroring your baby.
Mirroring is the first step of learning to communicate. While you might notice your baby copying your facial expressions and vocalizations, dads can also imitate their babies. Mimicking your baby’s coos, movements, and facial expressions can be a great way for your baby to learn how people communicate with one another. The more Dads and babies can communicate with each other, the easier it will be for feelings of bonding to occur.
Reading to your baby.
Reading is important to a child’s development. Even newborns can benefit from being read to. Dads can get in on the story time action by picking out some special books to read with their little ones. Babies love the sound of their caregivers’ voices, so hold your baby in your lap while you read to her. Reading stories together can be a great way for dads to help their babies wind down before naps or at night.
Feeding your baby.
Whether a mother breastfeeds or gives her baby formula, dads can still feed their babies too. A nursing mother can pump milk so that Dad can give baby milk in a bottle. Dads can help warm and prepare bottles, help burp the baby after a feeding, or give the baby a bottle. Taking over a few feedings can also give moms a much-needed break, too! Feeding the baby is a wonderful way for dads to bond with their child.
Bonding is a process that often takes time, especially for new dads. As we celebrate dads this month, take some time to prioritize your child’s bond with his daddy. Encourage dads to spend one-on-one time with their babies, nurturing the wonderful relationship that will grow and blossom throughout your baby’s life!
Parenting is awesome. Sleep is overrated. Every day is an adventure.
Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Kaitlyn Torrez
I’m Kaitlyn Torrez, from the San Francisco Bay Area. I live with my husband and two children, Roman and Logan. I’m a former preschool teacher, currently enjoying being a stay at home mom. I love all things writing, coffee, and chocolate. In my free time, I enjoy reading, blogging, and working out.