Written by Anvi Sharma
Having a new baby enter your life can be an overwhelming experience for dads. The addition of a little human brings a new set of life challenges that you thinking you’re ready for. But until that time actually comes, the dream of parenthood can be very different from reality.
Some dads find it particularly difficult to bond with their baby straight away but don’t fret! It can take time to build this relationship and in the end it will all be worth it.
Here are a few tips to help you with spending time with your little one and creating a more intense attachment and emotional connection.
- You may have seen or heard about parents-to-be singing or reading out loud to the pregnant belly and for some, this might be strange butit’s proven to establish a connection before the baby is even born. Put your reading hats on and get ready to belt out your favourite lullabies so you can get a head start.
- It’s important that you get involved in the entire pregnancy process, so make time and attend check-ups, appointments, classes or any pregnancy-related doctors visits with your partner. They will feel supported and you will also be up-to-date with everything that’s going on.
- Studies show that holding the baby often from a young age is an extremely important factor in bonding. Physical touch including tickles, cuddles, massages, bathes and holding the baby with bare arms are really useful when trying to establish an initial connection with your newborn.
- Skin-to-skin contact for fathers can be just as intimate as breastfeeding for mothers. A lot of fathers also prefer carriers or slings when out with the baby instead of using a stroller or pram as they find it easier and allows them to keep the baby close to a warm body.
- Being able to respond to the baby’s needs and wants is an important skill and is also one of the best ways to bond with a newborn. It may take a while for you to pick up what the baby needs but don’t be disheartened! You will eventually be able to realise the signs.
- Be there to soothe the baby when he/she is crying. Try walking around with them, gently rocking them, singing to them or having a gentle conversation with them.
- Studies also show that looking into the baby’s eyes and paying attention to them as you have a conversation can help them have more sophisticated social interactions as they grow older.
- There are some things such as nursing the baby that you won’t be able to do for obvious reasons but everything else you can get involved with. Babies actually start to recognise their main carers at a surprisingly early stage so make sure that you get in as much bonding time as possible.
- Being involved in the baby’s daily routine is important. Taking turns with your partner not only gives them some time off, but will also give you some one-on-one time to bond with your bub. Bathe them, feed them, change their nappy and put them to bed whenever you can. If you’re at work during the day, take turns to attend to the baby at night when they are crying. Although you may be exhausted, you don’t want to miss out on these precious moments.
- It may seem daunting at first but one of the best ways to bond with your baby is to spend some alone time with them.
- Playing with the baby, singing or reading to them can create a more intimate connection between the two of you at an early stage. Making silly faces or playing peek-a-boo are common favourites.
- Spending alone time with the baby will also help you be more confident in being a father as you start to be more attentive and calm as time goes on.
At the end of the day, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t bond with your baby straight away. Give it time and be patient instead of trying to rush things. It will take a while to get adjusted to this new little person in your life.
Seeking advice from other parents, nurses, doctors or your own parents is nothing to be ashamed of, so lean on them if you need to.
It’s important not to assume that the mother will have a stronger connection to the baby. Some mothers take longer to bond, so make sure you are there for your partner as well.