The precious bond between babies and mothers starts early on. From feeling those early kicks to holding the baby for the first moments of her life, that connection can be immediate. Some men might feel intimidated by this and worry that they might not be able to feel as strong of an attachment. While it might take a little more work, there are plenty of ways for dads to build a bond with their newborn baby.
Learn How to Soothe
Spend some time with your baby and find different ways to soothe her. Feel free to sing her your entire discography or write your own tune (babies won’t judge!). Pick her up, walk around, and rock her gently. Go through some books and find a shared favorite (this oneand this one are particularly fun).
There are different methods you can use to calm an especially fussy baby. Learning to master the swaddle will reduce the baby’s startle reflex and allow her to get better sleep (here’s a guide we’ve found to be helpful). If your baby is colicky, allowing her to rest on her side or stomach while you carry her can be very soothing. Just remember to use safe sleeping practices when setting the baby down!
One of the first things we have moms do is make skin-to-skin contact with the baby. This stabilizes the baby’s vitals including her breathing and heart rate as well as helps the mom’s colostrum (early breastmilk) flow better. The benefits of skin-to-skin aren’t limited to Mom, however! Skin-to-skin with Dad comforts the baby while also increasing your oxytocin levels. To do this, simply take off your shirt and recline and set your baby on top of your chest. It’s the perfect way for both of you to relax!
Baby wearing is a great way to stay close even if you have places to go and things to do. It’s so efficient, even James Bond does it! Using a wrap or a carrier is a convenient way to take your baby on the go with you or get chores done around the house. It comforts your baby, keeps her close, and lets you sneak in those extra cuddles. When baby wearing, always be sure to carefully follow the company’s instructions to ensure her airways aren’t blocked and her legs are properly positioned.
Burp the Baby
If your baby is exclusively breastfed, there are still ways to participate in feeding times! If your partner is willing to pump, you can offer to take the night shift. However, some women have trouble pumping or feel discomfort from it. Even if bottle feeding is off the table, you can help by offering to take the baby after feedings, sit her upright and burp her. This will let you take on extra responsibilities while letting your partner stretch her legs after long bouts of cluster feeding.
Talk with the Baby
Some people feel a little awkward interacting with a baby and wonder what on earth to even say. There’s no need for that anxiety, though! Your baby will love just getting to hear your voice. You can narrate your actions or routines and mimic her noises and coos. Even if it feels a little silly, it’s a way for your baby to begin to develop communication skills while allowing you to start building a real relationship!
Be There for Your Partner
Okay, this might not directly involve the baby, but stay with me here. Being supportive of your partner is the best way to strengthen family bonds all around. Your partner will feel more comfortable confiding in you, and it will help you both work as a team in all stages of parenting from the very beginning. This can start right away with pregnancy. Take on some extra chores around the house and be especially loving to your partner.
Sometimes, this might mean rubbing her shoulders; other times, it might mean letting her vent about her day. Being present and supportive will allow you to be the best dad even before the baby is born.
Taking these steps early on will help you establish a bond with your baby. If you’re looking for more ways to get involved, contact us at Celebrate Birth! We can recommend some books, provide resources for baby wearing, and give you information on our classes at The Nest including Mama Care Baby Care and Infant CPR.