11 Ways Fathers Can Bond With Their Newborns Even Though They Didn’t Carry Them for 9 Months
Fathers usually don’t bond with their newborns as instantly as mothers do. Moms-to-be have it easier since they spend 9 months literally connected to their babies. But dads also bond and nurture a relationship with their little ones even before they’re born and can catch up on all that love which will likely contribute to their baby’s future psychological and mental health.
Bright Side wants all the new dads to be as close as possible with their newborns so we’ve made a guide of all the ways they can bond with them.
1. Don’t underestimate their first hours in the world.
The first hours that fathers and newborns spend together can have a major impact on the bond they develop within the first months. Scientists know that dads that spend considerably more time with their babies right after being born are more likely to get involved and spend time with their kid throughout the next 3 months. It’s never too early to start cementing that relationship. They can look closely into the baby’s eyes, make eye contact, carry them, and sing to them whenever they’re visiting mom’s hospital room.
2. Share some skin-to-skin contact.
Both dad and child can have a blast with skin-to-skin contact. Research shows doing this will let the baby’s brain release oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, which will make them feel happy. It will also make the baby feel protected and calm, and the father will then feel closer to the newborn. To do this, dad can sit in a comfortable chair and support the baby on his chest. Both should have no upper shirt or onesie on. If it’s a bit cold, warm up by covering you both with a blanket.
3. Take an active part in caretaking activities.
Research has shown that parents who take more responsibility for caretaking activities with babies have a stronger bond with their children than those who don’t because newborns develop an attachment with their caretakers. Fathers can get involved in bath time, changing diapers, feedings, burping, putting them to sleep, and so much more. Taking care of a baby is hard work, but if mom and dad share tasks, tension will decrease and the baby will bond with both of them.
4. Be the leader during playtime.
While moms breastfeed and enjoy quiet bonding moments with her newborn, dads tend to be more playful. A father has an active mode when interacting with the baby and can bond with them by playing games. A pick-a-boo session, making the baby “fly,” giving gentle tickles, and laughing will reinforce that connection nature already gave them. Because of this, they’re more likely than not the ones who will see their babies smile for the first time.
5. Share a daily ritual.
This can be a mundane, simple activity like bathing the baby, but doing it daily creates a connection between the father and son. A baby expects its dad to be there at bath time and wants his gentle massages, funny faces, and bath songs and will expect them as a “must” every day. This could also be done by taking a night shift to lift them from their crib or bassinet to feed them, reinforcing trust in their father.
6. Make eye contact and smile.
Babies are born with their vision still not completely developed. However, they can clearly distinguish their dad’s face while he holds them since they can see approximately 8 to 10 inches away. His face is one of the new curiosities they’ll like to explore, so they can make eye contact. After this, the dad can smile at the baby and he may see they return the smile around their second month. They’re imitating him to establish contact.
7. Mirror your little one.
Believe it or not, babies like to establish contact through imitation. Having a connection in real-time like when a baby imitates its dad is priceless. Parents can do the same thing and make a game out of it. They can imitate the baby’s gurgles, mirror their coos, and second their grins. After a while, they’ll start imitating each other’s laughter as well.
8. Enjoy reading time together.
Children start learning their parents’ language from inside the womb and they’re fascinated by their voices. A father can find a time in the day when he feels comfortable, probably at night time, and carry or cuddle the baby to read them a short story or a favorite magazine. The baby will rejoice at the sound of his voice and their dad will connect with them. That special moment between them is sure to intensify their bond.
9. Wear your baby.
Embrace the baby-wearing style! If the dad’s up for a walk, he can try to hold the baby with the help of a carrier so that they sit chest-to-chest. A dad can practice this while doing house chores or resting on the couch. Being this close to the baby will let the dad understand cues more rapidly and know whether or not the child is hungry, hot, bored, or needs a diaper change.
10. Have a special “welcome home” ritual.
If dad works outside the house, his coming home can become a good opportunity to fortify his connection with the newborn. He could hold the baby first thing when he gets home, spend a couple of minutes making eye contact, and reconnect after a day of work that drew them apart.
11. Start early and talk to that bump!
From as early as week 15 into the pregnancy, babies can hear their mother’s voice and heartbeat. They’ll listen to it for months and months, so when they’re ready to meet the world, they’ll instantly recognize it.
But around 23 weeks into the pregnancy, babies are also able to listen to sounds from the outside world. So whenever dad talks near the bump, they’re teaching their baby to recognize them when they’re born. Parents’ voices can become so familiar to the baby that they can be soothing in times of stress.
Babies already love their parents but these tricks will help your little bundle of joy and your partner catch up on all the love they want to show. What’s your favorite activity to do with your baby? What’s your baby’s favorite pastime? Share it below!
Preview photo credit Mikael Stenberg / Unsplash