By Nancy Da Silva
While bonding will happen more quickly between mothers and their infants, there are things dads can do to build their relationship with the new baby from day one:
- Be tactile – Babies are comforted through the sense of touch. Pitching in during bath times, massaging the baby, and holding the baby against your chest will all succeed in fostering a warm, strong connection between the two of you.
- Make eye contact – If you’ve been talking to the baby since he was still in the womb, he’ll be familiar with your voice. Holding him in your arms, so that you can look down at him while you speak and he can look up at you, will help him associate that voice with your face and make him feel safe and loved.
- Share doctor duty – Taking over some of the doctor’s visits will not only earn you points with your wife or partner but will help you gain info on your baby’s overall health. It will give you the opportunity to help pitch in if the doctor offers any suggestions for any necessary treatments.
- Share diaper duty – Parenting is a messy business, and while some fathers feel it is the mother’s responsibility to take care of the less enjoyable end of baby care, they’re missing out. A crying, uncomfortable baby who is soothed by a clean diaper and clean clothes will associate that soothing, comfortable feeling with you. Bonding with your child takes work, and in this case, you’ve got to just jump in and get your hands dirty. The baby will benefit, and so will you.
- Sing – Music is the universal calmer. If you want to bond with your child, hold her close and sing them a lullaby while rocking them, or look down at them in the crib and sing to your heart’s content. When the baby is stressed, he’ll associate you, along with his mother, as someone who will make him feel better.
- Schedule some Daddy time – Despite the fact that the new mother will be suffering from sleep deprivation, you might find some opposition when you put forth the initial idea for some alone time with the new baby. Mothers may feel uneasy with passing them off to someone else, even if it’s just for a few hours, even if it’s you. This is why pitching in with little tasks is so important. It shows the nervous mother that she can trust you to know what you’re doing. Respect her nervousness, but assure her that the two of you will make an even better team if you can share parenting responsibilities and that giving her some free time will be beneficial for both of you. You can get to know your baby and your baby can get to know you, so that if Mommy needs a break, you can take over with minimal fuss on the part of the child.