When your baby first comes home from the hospital, there are plenty of natural opportunities for mom and baby to bond. Between the feedings and soothing sometimes it seems like new moms are the only ones who get to bond with baby. While it is tough for any new parent to find their role on their baby’s life, it can feel especially isolating for new dads. Therefore, it is critical that new dads be intentional in finding ways to bond with their baby. Today, we will cover four ways to initiate dad and baby bonding.
Skin to Skin
The first way to be intentional about dad and baby bonding is to have regular skin to skin contact with your baby. Skin to skin time is a great way to soothe a fussy baby, but it also provides a feeling of closeness due to the release of oxytocin (the love/bonding hormone). This technique also provides comfort and familiarity for baby as they get to know their dad. As a bonus, using skin to skin as a soothing method can be a great way to give mom a break.
Since most babies love the bath, bath time can provide a relaxing opportunity for dad-baby bonding. In the beginning, both parents should bathe baby together if possible because wet babies can be very slippery and challenging to handle. See our bath tips blog here for more information. However, as your baby grows it can become a solo activity and a great opportunity to grow closer to your child. This gets especially fun when baby begins to develop more personality and begins to play in the tub. Making baby baths with dad a part of the bedtime routine can go a long way towards strengthening dad-baby bonding.
Reading to Baby at Night
Reading to your baby is a great routine for night time and a fun activity that can strengthen dad and baby bonding. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, reading, “teaches a baby about communication; introduces concepts such as numbers, letters, colors, and shapes in a fun way; builds listening, memory, and vocabulary skills; and gives babies information about the world around them.” Reading is also an activity that can be done before feeding which is usually the last activity of the night before bed. This means that baby gets to spend quality time with dad and then mom before bed.
Feeding Baby a Bottle
If your baby is bottle-fed, feeding your baby a bottle is a great way to be intentional about dad-baby bonding. Whether baby is breastfed or formula fed, dad can provide baby with a bottle at feeding time by using stored breastmilk or making a bottle of formula. The closeness of feeding promotes bonding on its own but feeding times can be combined with skin to skin for even more bonding. Offering to do one middle of the night feed can also provide mom some relief and much-needed sleep.
It is important for dad’s to be able to bond and feel connected with their baby and we hope you got a few ideas here that you can use to promote dad and baby bonding in your family.