Many dads want to reach out to their baby but don’t know how. Here, 15 get-close tips to bond tightly with you little one.
Dads and babies can bond too! Yes, there will always be a special connection between a mother and her child because they co-existed for nine months. But dads can be just as good nurturers as moms.
The process of daddy-baby bonding takes time and involvement. But you get real benefits when you make that connection. Bonding is important to give the child a deep sense of inner security. If made to feel secure in his parents’ love, a child will be more ready to explore the world, learn new things, and take on challenges later in life. Since he did not carry the baby for nine months, give birth to him, or breast-feed him, a father may feel at a distinct disadvantage. But we assure dads: They can make up for that by simply being there as much as they can. Bonding happens as a wonderful by-product of just spending time together. A father just has to hold, cuddle, stimulate or play with his baby, and shower him with affection. One day, he will feel an unbreakable bond with the baby, one that is unique from what the baby has with his mother, yet is equally fulfilling.
Here are some ideas to help cement the daddy-baby bond.
01. MAKE EYE CONTACT. Even at a very tender age, babies can recognize a parent’s smell, appearance, and touch. Make your baby familiar with you by being very visible. Initially, a newborn baby can’t see more than twenty-five (25) centimeters ahead of him. So position yourself within your baby’s range of sight and watch him get to know tour eye and notice how he is reacting.
02. CHANGE HIS NAPPIES. Make diaper-changing time pleasant for you and your baby. Do not scowl that you’re doing the “dirty work.” See this as an opportunity to show your baby that you care enough to make him feel comfortable. The fact that daddy is responding to baby’s needs is being registered in his mind.
03. FEED YOUR BABY. If the mother is breast-feeding, ask her to use a breast pump to save some of her breast milk for you to use in bottle-feeding. When baby starts solids at four (4) to six (6) months, Daddy can give him his baby food and cereal. Dad can also burp the baby afterwards.
04. SUPPORT YOUR WIFE IN BREAST-FEEDING. In the early days of breast-feeding, Dad can help prop pillows and position the baby for nursing. By staying close to mom while the baby nurses, Dad can share in the warmth and special experience of the breast-feeding relationship.
05. TALK TO YOUR BABY. Babies recognize both parents’ voices from a very early age. Dad can take advantage of this by constantly talking to the baby, which provides stimulation important for the infant’s development. Chat about your day at work while you are bottle-feeding or changing his diaper. He may not understand you, but he will get used to seeing your face and hearing your voice.
06. ROCK AND HUM. A dad may easily get discouraged to handle a crying baby, and feel the urge to pass him back to mommy. But men are just as attuned as women to a baby’s cues and just as capable of responding appropriately to his needs. By picking up your distressed baby, you build his trust in you as the caregiver. We suggest that dads develop their own soothing techniques. This may include rocking the baby while humming or singing a special song that’s uniquely theirs.
07. BOND WHILE BATHING. Some dads dread bathing babies because the combination of a screaming baby and slippery skin makes them nervous. But bath time can be a special daddy-and-baby time. Provide plenty of water toys and make sure the temperature of the water is nicely warm.
08. PLAY WITH YOUR BABY. To help your baby get the most out of this toys, show him how they work first. Dad can set aside playtime for him and baby to give mom a break. Later on, when baby becomes more active and social, dad will find that playing with his baby is the easiest way to strengthen the father-infant bond.
09. TAKE YOUR BABY FOR REGULAR CHECK-UPS. This will help the father learn about and enjoy the baby’s stages of development. Be present during these check-ups instead of letting your wife handle everything. Baby’s regular check-ups will reassure you that your baby is growing normally. It also allows you to discuss any concerns you may have with the doctor.
10. ENJOY A DAY OUT. Expose baby to the outside world once in a while. If your baby enjoy a daily walk, use this time to connect with him. Stroll in the park, walk about at the malls or hang out by the beach. Babies enjoy movement and change of scenery. Sights and sounds stimulate a baby’s developing mind. Dads can put their babies in a sling or carrier for close physical contact.
11. TRAVEL WITH YOUR BABY. Nobody said that having a baby means being stuck at home. You can still plan out-of-town weekends, or even a vacation abroad on holidays or on special occasions. Just make special consideration for all your baby’s needs.
12. SHOWER YOUR BABY WITH ATTENTION. In our opinion, a baby cannot be ‘spoiled’ enough. Give your baby all the hugs, kisses, and attention he needs whenever you are around. A young baby who is picked up, cuddled and talked to is not learning about seeking attention; he is learning about love and human relationships.
13. READ ALOUD. It’s never too early for books. Start him off with a simple picture book. Point out and explain things to him. You can also get him storybooks. Even small babies like to be read to. They may not understand the words but they are fascinated by the voice they hear.
14. TAKE LAZY NAPS. A truly special moment for dad is when his baby feels so comfortable with him and falls asleep nestled in his arms or on his chest. We advise fathers to get to know their baby’s bedtime routine. Dad and baby can even take lazy naps together.
15. SNAP SOME SHOTS. Always have a camera within your reach. When you are looking after baby, get your wife to take some pictures of you and your little one. In your baby’s first year, he changes more than at any other time of his life. Don’t miss out on the chance to preserve special moments. So snap away!
Dads who take opportunities for caregiving and interaction are sure to form a strong and meaningful bond with their babies. More importantly, a father’s involvement in his child’s early life jumpstarts his exciting adventure as “Daddy.” The earlier you start, the better. Remember, every precious moment spent with baby can be bonding time.