Madelyn will be 6 months old (!) in a few short days and before you know it I’ll be writing about her going to the prom or getting her drivers license. The last 6 months have flown by and before I forget, I wanted to share some ways that even the most stubborn dad can bond with their new baby.
These are some very simple, yet often overlooked ways that any dad can bond with their stinky, yet cuddly-cute newborn. It’s easy to look at these and say; “Well duh, I knew that!” but all too often dads see these tasks and automatically think “ work “.
Let me tell ya, babies are easy…compared to a certain 3 year old that I know…little Maddie is a piece of cake and it’s when they are little the bonding time is so important for fathers.
1.) Hold Them
This has to be the most powerful thing a father can do to bond with his child. If all else fails…holding them can always make them feel better. Even to this day, whenever I hold my oldest daughter, I always feel like I can convey a sense of security and reassure her that I’m there for her.
Little babies are even more aware of the power of being held and there’s no reason a new dad should not love to hold his new baby. Holding them is such a simple act, yet one that can instill a lifetime of security and reassurance.
You get bonus points if you go skin on skin. It’s a great way to connect with your baby and if your wife breast feeds then you know how important skin-to-skin contact is to a new baby. They love the warmth and feeling that skin-to-skin contact provides.
2.) Play like dad, not like mom
This is an important one for dads. Holding and playing with your new baby differently than mom reinforces you as their father and helps give them a different dimension of interaction. Your wife will certainly be gentler than you and your baby will instantly pick up on the differences between mom and dad.
I’m not promoting rough housing with your 3 week old baby (there’s plenty of time for that when they’re older) but as a dad you’ll probably be a little less smooth (okay - dads are more rough than moms) than your wife holding your baby. Plus, physically you’re just different. Bigger hands and stronger arms will cause you to handle your baby differently. And that’s perfectly acceptable.
As long as you support their head and don’t purposely hurt them, babies are pretty resilient and will love being held by their daddy. I’m always lifting Madelyn up over my head and we “fly around” and it’s a move that only I do and she loves it!
3.) Communicate with them
Communication is the key to any successful relationship - the relationship you have with your new baby is no different. Babies desire to communicate and since you didn’t carry him/her around in your uterus, you’re already 9 months behind your wife.
The best way dads can communicate with their new baby is to make eye contact (babies will kick your ass at staring contests), listen and talk back to them. Just like adult conversations, making eye contact lets the person know that you are interested in what they have to say. It’s also important to listen for and to your baby. Once you recognize how your baby is trying to talk to you, you’ll have many opportunities to connect with your child.
When Madelyn was just a few weeks old, she loved to be talked to. You could sit there for 10 minutes and talk back and forth with her. She would coo for a few seconds and then I would say something short and simple back to her. Never breaking eye contact she would coo again and we would do that over and over and over.
4.) Baths, Bottle’s and Butts
Giving baths, feeding bottles and wiping butts is the hard part of taking care of a newborn but if you have the opportunity to do any of the 3 B’s then consider yourself lucky. I know, changing nasty diapers @ 3 AM or making a bottle when you can hardly see may not sound like fun, but every time you take care of your little one, your bond grows stronger.
The best part about bath time, giving them a bottle or changing their diaper is that it gives you a chance to practice the first 3 activities: holding, communication and interaction. You don’t want to go around playing with a poopie diaper or being to rough in the bath, but you’ll soon find yourself acting all goofy and laughing with your baby because your his or her new best friend.
Plus, helping with the 3 B’s is a great way to give mom a break…enough said.
Dads need to do all they can to connect with their new baby and if you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times – they grow up so damn fast! Even faster the second time around. Take advantage of every opportunity you have to connect and bond with your new baby.