The first couple weeks after bringing your newborn home from the hospital can be a whirlwind, especially for first time parents. It’s an exciting and equally exhausting time for new mommies and daddies, but sometimes it can be hard for dads to feel like they are bonding with their new baby as much as mom does. Breastfeeding is amazing for your baby, but one side effect is dad can feel left out. Maternity is typically longer than Paternity leave too. We can all hope together and Maternity and Paternity leave standards become longer and but until then, here are eight ways dad can build that bond with baby.
Skin to Skin
Skin to skin happens with mom moments after baby is born, but the same benefits apply for Dad; temperature regulation, hormones are released, babies comfort levels go up, babies stress goes down. Dad can get into his favorite comfy spot without his shirt on and lay naked baby onto his chest and get wrapped up in a big blanket. Dad and baby will both benefit from closeness and there is nothing better than your little one looking up at you for a moment before his / her head plops back down on your chest.
This is something new dads can do before baby is born. Attend all the prenatal appointments, attend a birth and breathing class with mom. Help research some baby products and parenting tactics. Being a proactive member of the parenting team as opposed to reactive will not only impress your better half but it will make you feel more confident and prepared. Once the family comes home, dad can help by cooking and cleaning, handling the laundry, keeping up to date on groceries and bills. The first couple months will be a learning experience so jump in and be a helpful member of team.
We all know the benefits of breastfeeding, but the downside is dad doesn’t get to share in the miracle. Mom can pump during the day and dad and pick a regular time to feed baby. Nighttime feedings give mom a break and a chance to sleep and also allow dad to bond with baby. Baby knows mom is a source of comfort and nourishment but that dad can be a source of food too. Dad will also get to join in on burping baby and cradling baby afterwards to a comforting snooze.
New babies are not going to have a regular sleep schedule right away so it’s important to try and create a bedtime routine. This will help your baby recognize when it is time to go to sleep. Taking a bath, swaddling, sitting in the rocking chair and reading to your baby are some common examples of things to do before bed. This is a good opportunity for dad to takeover. A bedtime routine helps baby get on a good sleep schedule and lets baby know that dad is associated with comfort and relaxation.
Everyone’s work and leave situation is different but taking time away from work to transition into your life is important for your health and babies. Look at your work’s Paternity leave policy and take advantage of the time to bond with your baby. Staying at home with mom during the first few weeks will allow you to grow a relationship with baby quicker and even become the primary parent for a few weeks. This is time you can never get back and it’s so worth it. Perhaps you can even add on some extra paid time off.
Newborns are too young to understand the words or the story but they are fascinated with voices and sounds. Fathers can find time everyday to read to their baby which will comfort and soothe baby. This will help baby become even more familiar with their father’s voice. They have been hearing their mother’s voice for a lot longer so this is a great way for baby to hear you. Pick a children’s book or a novel you were reading anyway. As baby gets older, you can read picture books, colorful books and more age appropriate books that baby will enjoy. Baby can even begin to read with you.
See if you can find a time every day to play with baby. Make it a part of the daily routine so your baby expects to get to play with you as he/she grows older. Playtime is fun for baby and for dad. This can mean different activities at different ages but find a way to get down on their level and have some good old fashion fun.
Give baby carrying a try. According to American Academy of Pediatrics, research shows baby carrying prevents crying and promotes parent-infant attachment and baby’s development. Baby carrying is easy and allows you to get a few things done around the house that keep piling up since you no longer have any free time. This makes baby feel safe and comforted against your body.