How Dads Can Bond With Their Baby
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How Dads Can Bond With Their Baby

Fathers play a special, important role when their baby arrives. Read on to find out how to help a new dad bond with their sweet little one!

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 mom and child. For many fathers, baby bonding time doesn't come naturally, and there isn't a one-size-fits-all baby bonding book written for dads.

Fathers are extremely important figures in children’s lives, so it’s important to nurture and celebrate that bond - even from birth! But figuring out how exactly to interact and bond with a new baby can be tricky for dads!

Bonding refers to the intense emotional and physical attachment between parents and their baby. This bond is created through quality time, holding the baby close, speaking to the baby, and taking care of the new baby.

The bond between a parent and child causes them to enjoy being close to one another in a secure relationship where they genuinely want to spend time together. From diaper duty, to help with the night shift, to playtime, to feeding, there are many ways a dad can help care for and bond with his new baby.

Don’t fret if this bond doesn’t occur right away, because for an inexperienced dad, bonding often takes time and patience. Research shows that parents don't need to feel guilty about not spending every second holding and cuddling your baby in order to establish a loving and secure bond; bonding actually can take place gradually over time, even when there is temporary separation between a parent and a baby.

Bonding isn’t always this instantaneous, magical moment between a parent and their baby, and that’s okay! New dads might need some practice learning about baby care and how to bond with baby.

What are some ways that fathers bond with their babies? 

family hands

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. Many new dads aren’t given the opportunity to spend time doing skin-to-skin with their baby, but it’s important for bonding!

Human touch is comforting to a baby, so in the same way that a mother begins skin-to-skin soon after birth, a new father should spend some time in the hospital holding his baby against his bare chest or against his shoulder. It's a team effort!

Talking to the baby.  

A baby can learn to differentiate between voices while still in the womb, so chances are, your baby can recognize the voice of their father right away after birth. New fathers 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. Talking, reading, and singing to a baby are important for baby bonding during the first weeks and months.

Singing to the baby. 

Father and infant daughter

Singing is just as important as talking, and can be a great bonding experience.

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. Many dads bond with their baby by singing to them and having face to face contact.

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. A great dad can also make up his own songs or lyrics, which is equally pleasing to the baby!

Playing with the baby. 

father ticking and cuddling 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 the other parent too.

Encourage dad to bond with the baby by creating a special time every day to play with the baby, without the mom around. This is a win-win for a mom too, as she can get a much-needed break!

What are some activities dads can do with their babies in the first weeks and months?

Dads can carry the baby around the house while naming different objects, or take the baby on a tour of the grocery store, naming items as they go shopping. A new parent can invest in black-and-white flashcards or board books, which are intriguing to newborns. A dad can lay the baby on the floor and gently spin a mobile overhead. You can hold your baby and do a little dance to some fun music, making silly faces. Newborns can enjoy play just as much as older babies! 

There are many ways dads can form a special bond with their baby through play.

Wearing the baby. 

young family father babywearing an infant

Babywearing is beneficial to both caregiver and child. Giving a father a chance to wear the baby can give him a sense of what it was like to carry a baby for nine months.

Although men don't participate in breastfeeding, babywearing is a way to create a similar strong bond between dad and baby, because it involves holding baby close.

There are many different ways of baby wearing.

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 parents and children by promoting closeness and security.

A great baby carrier is the KeaBabies Baby Wrap Carrier. The KeaBabies Baby Wrap Carrier comes in a variety of colors and can be used by dads, too! It is comfortable and flexible enough to be used by either partner or member of the family.

Mirroring the baby. 

father and baby

Mirroring is the first step in learning to communicate. While you might notice your baby copying your facial expressions and vocalizations, dads can also imitate their babies. In the early days of parenthood, mirroring a baby's expressions can be a helpful way for dad and baby to bond.

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. This mimicry often comes naturally to a mom, but less so for a dad. The more dads feel like they can communicate with their baby, the easier it will be for dad and baby to bond.

Reading to the baby. 

Young father reading book with his cute little son at home

Reading is important to a child’s development.

Even a newborn can benefit from being read to. A dad can get in on the story time action by picking out some special books to read with his baby.

Babies love the way their dad can talk to them, so hold your baby in your lap while you read to them. Reading stories together can be a great way for a dad to help his baby wind down before naps or as part of the bedtime routine.

Feeding the baby. 

Father Giving Daughter Bottle Of Milk

Feeding the baby is a family act of bonding.

Whether a mom breastfeeds or gives her baby formula, dads can still feed their babies too. A nursing mom can pump milk so that the dad can give baby milk in a bottle. Dads can help warm and prepare bottles, help burp the baby after a feeding, give the baby a bottle, or rock the baby back to sleep after a feeding.

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, and also give their partner some time to rest and recover.

Cuddling the baby. 

cuddle time with baby

Snuggling a newborn is the perfect way for dad and baby to bond. Baby massage is another amazing resource that helps a dad bond with his baby. Rocking a newborn to sleep at night is another wonderful way for a dad to help establish a secure attachment with his little one.

Fatherhood isn't always easy, but don't worry - your baby knows they are loved and cared for. 

Young Father Holding Excited Infant Son

Bonding is a process that can take time, especially for a new dad.

As we celebrate dads during the Father's Day holiday, 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! 

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.

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