Updated: Nov 29, 2022
You and your new baby: Ways for dad to bond
Author: Andy Smithson
Credits: Used with permission. Originally published on truparenting.net
I’ve never heard a father say, “Mom’s get to do everything; they get to carry the baby for nine months, they get to birth the baby, and they get to feed the baby.” But… regardless of the fact that men aren’t extremely envious of the discomfort that comes with pregnancy, childbirth, and feeding, they are sometimes envious of the bond and singular importance of a mother in the baby’s life. Fathers don’t need to be envious; they just need to be involved. Because fathers don’t hold the same necessity of physical closeness and connection as mothers, they have to create opportunities to connect and bond with their newborn children. Many fathers struggle to bond with their newborns because of the lack of verbal communication and interactive activities. Many fathers think the baby “just sort of lays there.” It’s true that mom could feed and nurture the baby without you, but she will never be “daddy.”
The following four simple tasks are things every father can do each day to forge an incredible bond with his newborn son or daughter.
Look at and hold your newborn When babies are new, they are small and fragile. Fathers often feel like they are going to break them and are unsure of what to do with a helpless little person. It’s true that they are small and fragile, but babies are resilient and stronger than we think. First, don’t worry; you won’t break the baby. I promise. Pick up your newborn child each day and spend some time just looking at her features. Examine her mouth, nose, and little fingers. Decide what the baby got from you and what features remind you of her mom, grandma, or grandpa. Listen to him breathe, or take special note of the tone of his voice when he sighs or even when he cries. Just get acquainted with your baby in a more intimate way.
Talk to your newborn Your baby’s hearing is intact from birth. Many babies already know and seem to physically recognize and respond to the voice of their mother when they are born. As you hold, soothe, rock, and observe your child, let him get more acquainted with you. Talk to him. Michael Meyerhoff, EDD of Discovery Health, explains that newborns are upset by loud, sharp noises, while soft, rhythmic sounds generally calm them. Just the slow, soft sound of your voice can help to strengthen the bond between your baby and you.
Play with your newborn Obviously, it’s not wise to play with a newborn the way you would with your 10-year-old, but you can play nonetheless. The dictionary simply defines play as “to amuse oneself.” In the case of playing with a baby, we attempt to amuse the baby. Babies begin responding to sights, sounds and touch very early. Gently touch your baby's chin, cheeks, tummy, or toes and throw in a “gonna getcha.” Watch her move and respond to your touch and voice. Savor each response and coo.
Help with your newborn Alright, the last suggestion is to change a few diapers, feed the baby a bottle, clean the spit up, and get up in the middle of the night instead of thinking, “my wife’s got this.” It’s amazing how bonded we begin to feel to the people we serve. This will also score some points with Mom.
All relationships need time together. Your relationship with your newborn child is no different.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andy Smithson, LMSW, is a Licensed Master's Social worker, writer, presenter, and, most importantly, husband and father of three energetic boys and a heart-melting girl. Andy and his family live in Burley, ID. along the scenic snake river. They enjoy spending time on the river in the summer and in the mountains in the winter. Andy has worked with kids and families for years in counseling, parenting classes, and seminars and providing in-home coaching and loves to see personal, relational, and generational cycles change and progress as parents improve themselves and their parenting. Andy is the creator and author of the TRU Parenting program and blog, www.truparenting.net. Connect with him on facebook at www.facebook.com/truparenting.