Although it has really quite a while since I wrote Becoming a first-time dad | Start Preparing *Now*, memories of being a first-time father are still fresh in my mind and I thought I would write some thoughts about bonding with baby.
First of all recognize that the sort of bonding that we are talking about for dads will never be in the same degree and form that mothers get with their newborn. So start off by not trying to be able to bond like your wife or worst still compete with her. There are some things that you just can’t do, for example, breastfeeding – which is a huge bonus in quality time and superb eye-contact. Besides, your wife already had a 9-month bonding head start through pregnancy.
Secondly, if it is any comfort, many dads have no clue about bonding with their newborn baby. For some of us, the financial weight and emotional strain of being a new dad can already leave you drained.
So in the spirit of keeping things really simple, here are the key tips to take note of about bonding with baby for first time dads. Whilst it seems to focus a lot about what to do, just remember that sometimes “less is more” and it all boils down ultimately to building a relationship.
- Changing their diapers
This is a no brainer. Bonding happens to a large extent though our senses such as touch and smell and in fact this menial task has been highlighted in some studies as the best way for new dads to bond with their baby. Some go even as far as saying that it helps strengthen and form lasting marriages, due in part to your wife’s appreciation of you putting in the effort to share the load.So be prepared to start with the most basic of all tasks – cleaning up junior’s mess and bottom. Don’t worry if you don’t get it right initially and even if your think that your wife thinks you are not doing a good job. Don’t let her just tell you to move aside and do it better. Stick to the task. Trust me after a while; you will get pretty good at it.Much of parenting involves skills that can be learnt.
- Be Playful
There are few things more gratifying in this world than seeing a baby smile or chuckle. So the goal here is simple. Think of something that you think would make your baby smile. Be creative.Research seems to indicate that fathers tend to exhibit a more playful quality to their form of interaction, as opposed to the more nurturing nature of moms. So go ahead and figure out a playful way to interact with the little one.
- The Magic of Touch
Babies respond amazingly well to touch, so one activity that you really should try to do as much as you can is to give your baby a bath. Physical closeness often leads to you being emotional close to baby.Be generous in cradling and stroking your baby as the sense of security and comfort it generates makes for a feeling of love, being protected and cared for.Learn what forms of motion your baby likes, perhaps add a little bounce or sway to your repertoire.
- Eye Contact
I believe a great deal can be expressed through our eyes and our babies are no exception.There is something very sublime to look into the eyes of your little one as if to bring across a thought or message. Holding baby in your arms at about chest level would be the ideal level for perfect visual contact.I remember reading somewhere that babies are able to see at most a foot in front of them, so as a general, keep them close so they can see your face and especially your eyes.
- Use Your Voice
Babies love sounds, especially familiar sounds. What can be more familiar than the sound of your voice? In fact, your baby is supposed to be able to recognize your voice while they are still in the womb, so really you should be talking to your baby before they are born.Talking to your baby regular or even singing softly can produce that calming effect. I am sure your baby will respond to you in little ways that are amazingly rewarding.I remember I used to say silly little things to my little girl with a few peekaboos thrown in and what a delight it was to watch her chuckle.
- Late Night Bottle Feeds
I know this is a hard one. But if you and your wife are supplementing breastfeeding with bottle feed, especially late into the night or even early hours of the morning, why not volunteer to do it so that your wife can get a rest.As you playing the role of ‘food provider’ in the quiet of the night, those will become great moments of bonding.Burping the baby after a feed provides that extra level comforting touch.
- Advertise Baby!
Make sure you let your work mates, especially your boss, know that your baby has arrived. Let them know that someone in the family now shares your time and needs your attention. Being proud of your newborn is a good first step to building that desire for a great relationship with your baby.Work responsibility and bad time management are common reasons for failing to make appropriate time for bonding. An absent father has little to no chance of forming that bond.
Again I hope you find this little sharing useful and happy bonding.
Still Learning to Be a Better Dad,