There is a lot of content out there about how important it is for new parents to bond with their babies.
There are also lots and lots of articles that offer tips for new moms. But it’s just as important for new dads to bond with their little ones. So, in this article, I’m offering some advice for new fathers.
How To Bond In The Very Beginning
In the first few hours after a baby is born, mom is probably going to have a lot more bonding time than dad. This is particularly true if the new mom is going to be nursing.
Having said that, mom is going to need to take some breaks since giving birth tends to be a rather exhausting experience, to say the least. New dads can take advantage of this by holding the newborn and doing a little talking too. Even a newborn can often recognize dad’s voice after hearing it in the background for months in the womb. So, that familiar sound is likely to be well received. Beyond that, just holding their baby is a great way for new dads to begin forming a strong connection.
Bonding With Your Baby In The Early Months
Once everyone heads home, the real parenting experience begins. At this point, most parents realize just how much work parenting really is. After all, there is a new person in the family, and this one is completely dependent on mom and dad for every little thing.
For dads, simply pitching in and helping out with a lot of these caretaking responsibilities is a great way to bond. This might mean changing diapers or giving baths. It might also mean bottle feeding if you’re going that route. Putting your little one down to sleep is another great bonding activity. After all, what could be more enjoyable than rocking a newborn to sleep?
Beyond baby care itself, there are plenty of other fun ways to bond. You might play peek-a-boo, or sing a few songs. Or, you might spend some time reading – it’s never too early to start this habit!
One other great way to bond is to make sure to carve out some one on one time. It might be fun for the whole family to hang out together. But, as a dad, you want your little one to get used to spending some time with just the two of you as well. This will pay dividends down the road, and will probably mean that your child is less clingy with mom during the toddler years and beyond. It’s also a great way to let mom have a bit of alone time which is key for all new parents.
Finally, I would strongly encourage new dads to make sure to get in some skin to skin contact. This has been proven to help solidify the parent/baby bond. So, take off your shirt and rock your little one, and let the bonding begin.
One Year Old Bonding Time
As your baby gets older, the possibilities for bonding expand dramatically. Let’s face it, newborns don’t really do all that much. Once they hit that first year though, they tend to be quite active. They might be smiling, crawling, and even attempting a few words here and there. They also tend to be much better at playing by this time.
You might push a ball back and forth with them or hand them different toys to see what they will do. And, of course, peek-a-boo will still be a hit.
The two of you can spend some time outside together too. Go for a walk and push them in a reversible stroller so you can look at them while you stroll along. Or, carry them in a baby carrier so you feel close to each other.
At a certain point, your little one will be able to help you out with small tasks as well. Babies and toddlers love pitching in and making their parents happy. So, something as simple as asking your one-year-old to pick up a toy and hand it to you is likely to bring a smile to their face.
One of the biggest keys to bonding is spending time together consistently. If you get to spend some time together almost every day, it’s only natural that you’ll grow closer. So, don’t worry too much about what you do together, and instead, just try and make sure that you’re doing something on a very regular basis.
Ryan Howard runs SmartParentAdvice, a site that provides parenting advice for moms and dads. Ryan writes about all of the different ups and downs of parenting, provides solutions to common challenges, and reviews products that parents need to purchase for babies and toddlers.