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As much as a mother and child relationship is vital, so is the bond that dad has with the new baby. It is important that your child will develop this unique relationship with their dad that will help them as they get older.
You can also help dad feel educated and encouraged to foster this healthy relationship with the baby. Most people would think “feeding” right away when it comes to ways that dad can bond with baby but, if you are exclusively breastfeeding that rules it out. However, there are a lot of other ways to strengthen this connection.
Here’s how dad can bond with the new baby and how you can help:
Talking to the bump –
Even during the early stage of when the baby is still in the tummy, dad can already start forming that bond by constantly talking to the bump. The baby will get used to dad’s voice and even before they are born.
Feel the kicks –
One of the most exciting things about being pregnant is feeling your baby kick. Share those amazing experiences with your spouse. Feeling your baby move makes it feel more real and can start to develop the bond between your baby and husband.
Talk about your new baby –
Together you and your spouse can dream about what your baby will be like. Will they have your nose and his eyes? Will they be musical? Athletic? By visualizing and talking about the future of your little one it can excite both of you about the amazing life that you are creating!
Plan the nursery together –
Planning the nursery can be so fun! You can keep it simple or go all out it is up to you. Take the time together to set up the crib, pick out a glider, etc. Let him have a say in the room.
Letting him be a part of the process (and also carrying some of the responsibility) will make him feel more included and get him ready for when your baby makes their appearance!
Once the baby is born:
Skin to skin contact –
Lay your baby’s bare chest on dad’s bare chest and just relax, cuddle, or even watch television. This method of skin to skin contact helps release oxytocin which is a feel-good hormone that relates to love and bonding.
The key is to have nothing in between dad and the baby. This can also help with the baby’s thermal and heart regulation.
Bath times –
Bath time with your baby is a great way of spending time together and bonding. Dad can either have a relaxing warm bath with the baby or be the one to give the baby baths in a tub or in the shower. This can help build trust and let your baby get used to dad’s touch.
Cuddle time –
Snuggles, kisses, and basically being close to your baby is a sign of affection and can help bring comfort and strengthen the bond. While mom is breastfeeding, dad can also stay close and share in those special moments. This will help him realize that special relationship and also increase the bond with the whole family.
This means you should listen to what your hubby thinks about raising kids and involve him with the whole process. Even if as mothers we feel a really close bond with our babies, it is important that dad can also have his say.
An open channel of communication is vital in achieving this and coming up with an understanding that will only increase the relationship between parents and the baby.
Give dad a specific task –
Sometimes, men will be more successful if they have a specific task or duty to follow instead of “take care of the baby”. You can assign dad to be the one to give baths, feeding at specific times, or snuggling with the baby at a specific time period.
When our first baby was little we set up “shifts” for night feedings. I was breastfeeding, but I would pump an extra bottle during the day so my husband could have a turn at night feeding the baby.
If our baby woke up before 12:00 my hubby would get him. This was a huge relief to me as I got a few more hours of uninterrupted sleep and that ended up being some of my husbands favorite times with our son as a newborn.
By setting up your hubby for success, you can help strengthen his relationship with the baby and develop that bond.
Prioritize the relationship with your husband –
Before I had my first baby, my husband was my whole world – so when that attention had to be split it was a bit of a shock for both of us.
Sometimes mom tends to set aside dad since we are too busy with our babies but it is important to keep the right balance and remember to maintain that close relationship with your husband. In this way, he will won’t feel left out or resent the baby and it can keep him motivated to develop the bond with the kids and become a more present and active dad.
Reading books –
This is a great way that dad can spend some quality time with the baby. Even if the baby is still young, just hearing dad’s voice and having him hold the baby close can be a good way to bond.
This can also be something that dad can do with the kids all throughout their childhood to foster that relationship.
Wearing the baby –
This method of “kangaroo care” promotes 4th-trimester transition because of how close the baby is to you. Dad can spend some time wearing baby with a wrap and experience the feeling of having a baby around him for some period of time, even while doing some activities.
Changing diapers –
It’s not just about taking care of the baby’s needs but dad can also use this opportunity to interact, make faces, laugh, and bond with baby.
Some of our favorite family videos are of my hubby and little boy laughing hysterically during diaper changes.
If your baby is bottle fed, then dad can help with feeding duties or if you are breastfeeding he can be the one to burp the baby after nursing. He can also continue to feed your child when they start to eat soft foods. By helping in the feeding process, dad will feel more involved and important.
Baby exercises –
Doing exercises with the baby is a fun way of bonding and at the same time, strengthen baby’s muscles. You can read some books or check out videos on what kind of exercises will be appropriate for the baby.
Tummy time –
Put dad in charge of doing tummy time. He can lay on the floor with the baby for a few minutes and entertain them. This is a great chance for them to make eye contact and play together.
Leaving them alone –
This might sound intimidating, especially for first-time dads, but try letting them be alone with the baby for around 30 minutes and it will help him learn to problem solve and find their way around taking care of the baby.
It’s also going to be a boost of confidence for dad knowing that he was able to survive even without mom there! (Plus, you get a nice uninterrupted shower or just a few minutes of peace and quiet.)
By constantly working on that bond, putting in the time, and repeating these activities, dad will be able to nurture that wonderful relationship with your child.
What are your tips to help your husband bond with your baby?