Hi, everyone! Today I’m doing something very different and sharing a post from a guest author – my husband! He is best buddies with our LG; their bond is so sweet. He literally couldn’t stop saying “She’s so amazing!” the day our daughter was born.
I know a lot of dads are unsure how to bond with their new baby, especially when Mom is exclusively breastfeeding. I hope you enjoy reading my husband’s ideas for ways for Dad to bond with Baby!
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Ways for Dad to Bond with Baby
Watching my wife give birth was amazing. I told her “You’re like a Transformer!” Maybe that wasn’t one of the first things she wanted to hear after giving birth, but what’s done is done.
Watching her give birth was incredible and I have a whole new level of respect for women. It was amazing to watch my wife become a mom and hold our tiny newborn daughter. It’s pretty obvious how new mothers can bond with their baby, especially when they’re breastfeeding. It’s less obvious how dads can bond with their newborn baby. Because bonding with your newborn is so important, today I’m sharing 11 ways for dad to bond with Baby.
Why the father daughter bond is important
Many men enjoy thinking about having a son and all the things they can do together over the years. On the other hand, lots of men are unsure about what to do with a daughter or how to treat her. My tips for how to bond with your baby are great for any newborn – boy, girl, or a super modern “theybie.”
Because I have a girl and because many men are unsure of how to bond with a daughter, I want to emphasize how important the father daughter bond is. Your relationship with your daughter will help shape her self-esteem, confidence, academic success, future financial success, and her expectations for relationships with men. Do you want your daughter to have healthy relationships and boyfriends who treat her right? It begins with you!
Bonding with your baby can take time
Bonding with your new baby can take time. Becoming a dad is overwhelming and kind of scary, so don’t feel bad if it isn’t love at first sight. Even if you adore your baby from day 1, your bond will further deepen and develop over time.
How dads can bond with their newborn baby
Talk to Baby before birth
Your baby hears her mom’s voice every day. Let her hear yours, too!
I used to read (in Spanish) to our baby when she was still in the womb. It was so much fun to watch her move around and respond to my voice! Although, honestly, sometimes it looked a little like an Alien was about to rip its way out of my wife’s stomach…
You can also try “playing” with your unborn baby by pressing against her body and seeing how she reacts! Even better – give your partner a belly rub with hydrating belly butter.
Skin to skin contact with dads is beneficial, too! (Or, as I like to call it, skin to hair).
My daughter was born in a “Baby Friendly” hospital that promotes immediate skin-to-skin between mother and Baby. In other words, the baby is placed immediately on the mother’s abdomen/chest. A lot more hospitals are doing this, as long as Baby is doing well.
The great news is that skin to skin isn’t just for moms! Skin to skin contact with dad is beneficial for Baby, and it’s an easy way to strengthen your bond. One researcher showed that 30 minutes of skin to skin with your newborn on her first day of life will rewire your brain and produce hormones that help you bond with your baby. The more skin to skin you practice, the more likely your baby is to be soothed by your touch and presence.
Be a babywearing dad
Babywearing with a ring sling, wrap, or structured carrier helps you bond with your baby hands-free. You can get a lot of stuff done while wearing your baby. I learned how to knit! Babywearing can help soothe a fussy infant and takes some pressure off your back/give your arms a break.
Always make sure your carrier is approved for newborns or look for a newborn insert, make sure her airways are clear/her chin is not resting on her chest. Our daughter did not want to nap in her bassinet as a newborn – she only wanted to nap while cuddling. I would nap her in a carrier whenever I could to give my wife a break and get my dose of baby cuddles. A ring sling was most adjustable for our baby when she was very small, then we used a K’Tan. (She’s in the K’Tan Breeze in the photo below.) We switched to an Ergo when she was large enough because it’s more comfortable for your back.
Dads can take over diaper duty
Diaper changes provide a great opportunity for bonding and give Mom a much-needed break. I thought I’d be grossed out by the poop, but newborn poo is just kind of like cottage cheese. It’s nothing to freak out about. It’s also really fun to troll friends and family by sending them photos of poopy diapers. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Take a walk
Many newborns are soothed by movement. When my daughter was fussy in the evenings/at night and we knew she wasn’t hungry, I’d put her in a carrier and walk around our apartment building. My wife would get a break, and maybe even a nap, and it would help calm Baby. People also like to use a stroller, but we were on the third floor with no elevator so a carrier was much easier for us. (Plus our baby has always hated strollers…lucky us.)
Master tummy time
Tummy time is very important for babies. It helps babies stretch out, gain strength, and can help prevent positional head deformities (and an expensive baby helmet!).
Newborns are floppy. They need support rolling in and out of tummy time. I watched this video on how to put your newborn in tummy time to figure out how to do it.
You can talk to your baby, read to her, touch her, and offer things to look at like these free printable high contrast cards for newborns.
I’m not going to lie – I wanted to be able to feed my daughter. Because my wife exclusively breastfed, the hospital and pediatrician advised us to hold off on introducing a bottle for several weeks. By the time we introduced a bottle, Baby was not interested.
I tried several times and could never get her to drink much. We eventually gave up on trying to get her to drink from a bottle.
Other babies are less picky and are willing to drink expressed milk from a bottle. If yours will, taking over some feedings can be a way to bond with your baby and give your partner some time to herself.
I urge you not to force the issue, though. If your partner wants to breastfeed, asking constantly if/when you can bottle feed your baby (even with pumped milk) can undermine her confidence and put her breastfeeding success at risk.
Share a special language with your baby
Spanish is my first language. We want our daughter to be bilingual, so it’s my responsibility to speak to her in Spanish whenever possible. You don’t have to teach your child another language to share a special language. You can make silly faces, repeat noises back at her, and develop your own play ‘language.’ As your newborn grows and learns, she’ll love when you blow raspberries back at her!
Bath time can be a lot of fun, even with newborns! Many babies love baths because the warm water feels comforting and familiar. Babies burn more easily, so test the water temperature with your wrist or elbow and keep her chest covered with a warm, wet washcloth.
Read to your baby
Reading to your baby is beneficial in so many ways! Even though newborns may not seem like they’re paying much attention, they’re already learning your voice and listening to your tone and intonation.
Reading to your baby from birth helps her develop language skills. It also provides valuable one-on-one bonding time and can be an important part of nap/bedtime routines as your child grows. Getting appropriate books to read can be absolutely free thanks to programs like Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.
If you are raising a bilingual child, make sure to read in the “second” language as much as possible. One of my favorite books to read is Habia una Vez, a classic Cuban collection of stories I remember from childhood. I also read her Harry Potter in Spanish. Start ’em young!
Massage your baby
Baby massages can soothe your baby, form part of a bedtime routine, release gas, and offer excellent bonding opportunities. You can start by gently massaging her hands and feet, or rubbing her back or belly. (Or you can skip straight to Googling how to fart your baby because it’s pretty funny.)
If you want to use oil, make sure to use something that’s safe. Chose an edible vegetable oil, like canola oil or coconut oil. Old school “baby” oil is not actually safe to ingest, and nut oils may cause allergies. Our pediatrician told us that the unscented Aveeno lotion was also a good choice.
Enjoying bonding with your baby
However you bond with your baby as a dad, make sure to have fun! After all, us dads are the “fun parent,” right? If something doesn’t feel right for you, skip it. If something else works for you and helps you bond with your newborn, go for it.
I hope you enjoy these easy ways for dad to bond with baby! If you have other ways you bonded with your newborn baby as a dad, please share them in the comments below.
Natasha here again!
I hope you enjoyed this post from a man’s perspective. I know my husband has a few more ideas he wants to share, so please let me know if you like this post and want to see more from him in the future!
If you’re expecting a little one, you may also enjoy these posts:
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