The bond between a father and his baby is a special thing, but there’s no denying that the process of bonding is different for fathers and mothers. While many new fathers experience some anxiety during the process of bonding with their newborns, techniques and strategies like the ones listed below have been proven to help the process along.
Look after yourself first
As wonderful and exciting as it is to bring a new life into the world, becoming a new parent can cause a great deal of stress. That’s why managing your own mental health is one of the best ways to prepare yourself for bonding with your new addition. Anxiety and depression affect one in ten new dads, and although it’s a staggering statistic, it’s also a great reminder to be mindful of how you feel. Don’t be afraid to ask for support when you need it – just taking those first steps will give you the tools you need to be a better partner and father.
Talk to your baby
The conversations you have with your newborn might be less than stimulating for you, but they can be very important for babies’ development. It’s best to start talking to your baby while they’re still inside the womb as this lets them get familiar with the sound of your voice. That way, after the birth, they’ll already know parts of you and feel a stronger bond. Then, as your baby starts to grow, you can continue to grow closer by working higher-quality language into your conversations.
Skin to skin contact
The benefits of skin-to-skin contact have been known for many years, but this magical bonding activity is not only for mothers. Your scent and heartbeat can have the same calming effect on your baby as your partner’s, so look for opportunities to be close. The best thing about this bonding strategy is that you can do it while reading a book, watching the TV, or just chilling out at home, so you’ll never be too tired to squeeze in some quality time.
Your baby might not be ready to take on the football field just yet, but he or she will get a lot out of play during the early days. Bringing play time into your baby’s daily routine can be as simple as making funny noises or spending time rolling around on the floor. It might not feel like much, but it will work wonders as far as strengthening your bond and encouraging healthy development.
Develop your own ways of doing things
As you become more confident caring for your new baby, you’ll have the opportunity to bond and spend time alone together. Take this as your time to learn new fatherhood skills and discover a new sense of independence as a parent. Your partner might feel the need to show you her way of doing things, but don’t be afraid to gently remind her that you’re both new to this and that there’s nothing wrong with developing your own methods. As long as baby is happy, safe, and healthy, your style can’t be far off the mark!
If you’re looking for an easy bonding opportunity, pick your baby up and bounce them or swing them gently. Smooth movements will remind him or her of being in the womb, and deliver a wide range of benefits as a result. Don’t rush out and buy a trampoline just yet, but do remember that movement is essential for developing coordination, strengthening muscles, and refining motor skills. What’s not to love about that?
Understand your value
It’s normal for new dads to feel unsure of their instincts when it comes to caring for a baby, but the truth is that a father’s early interactions can have an even greater impact than a mother’s. Showing a genuine interest in your baby is one of the best things you can do to support their development, and dads tend to be even better at this than new mums, who can often become preoccupied by a seemingly endless to-do list. By making your baby the centre of your world, even just for a few minutes at a time, you’ll be doing an extremely valuable job.
Above all else, remember that bonding with your new baby is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience, and try to enjoy it as much as you can. Allow yourself to relax into it and enjoy yourself, and before you know it, the two of you will be inseparable.