During the later stages of pregnancy, dad can feel a little helpless at times. Mum has had nine long months of bonding with baby throughout the pregnancy, and once they’re born, breastfeeding is another tie between them. The opportunities for dad to bond with baby may seem less obvious, but it’s important to look out for them to form your own unique and intense bond with your child.
Communication and play are huge ways that dads can help baby with their development and allow them to see the world. It may seem slow going for the first few months, but baby is taking it all in – bonding doesn’t just start when they’re able to communicate back! That’s why it’s so important to put the time in from day one – and here’s a few ways to do it!
Be part of their routine
Yes, Mum may be feeding, but there are lots of other major parts to baby’s routine that you can be a big part of. Becoming their go-to changer may not be the cutest part of baby’s routine (and you and your partner may want to split these kinds of tasks evenly between you) but it’s a very important part of the routine. There’s lots of opportunity for eye contact here and communication. Have a changing routine, maybe with a song or little actions that will become familiar to them over time. That’s your one-on-one time with them, so make it special.
Show baby the world
Wearing baby is a great way to bond with them because it allows you to show them the world around them. Wear them while doing chores around the house – not with any harsh chemicals, obviously! – or when you’re going out for a walk or to the shop. It’s all new to them and seeing all this while having your scent and steady heartbeat there to calm them means they feel safe and close to you.
Try a baby massage
Touch is a basic human need, and research has shown that we all need it to survive and develop as balanced human beings. During baby massage, the systems are stimulated, helping to support baby’s equilibrium. Regular baby massage can help greatly with the relief of gas and colic, growing pains and muscular tension are often relieved, too, by different strokes during baby massage once applied correctly. Parents can gain a better understanding of their baby as they learn to understand and read their babies cues. For many parents - especially dads - they improve their own self-esteem and confidence in dealing with their little one, and as we all know, touch is a major way to bond with baby.
Daily play time
Give Mum a chance to rest or to put in time with older kids by having some time set aside each day with baby that’s just the two of you. For the first six months, playtime may feel a little silly, but trust us, they’re taking it all in! Babies can recognise voices from as early as one week, so even communicating or reading regularly with them will make a huge difference with them.
Be a part of bedtime
Again, it’s all about getting involved in the routine and taking initiative. You and Mum will have to work out baby’s bedtime routine together, but if she does the feeding, maybe you both bathe baby together and you sing baby a lullaby before bed. Maybe you do some gentle rocking to soothe baby off to sleep, or you try a baby massage before bed to relax them. Find what works for you and try to make it a part of your routine every night so that they come to associate you with these actions.