It can sometimes be difficult for fathers to connect with their babies. Babies have a deep connection with their mother from the moment they are conceived. Once they are born, that connection grows deeper through recovering from labor and frequent breastfeeding.
Fathers may feel left out or like they don’t know how to connect with their new baby. It’s important for both parents to establish a strong bond with their new child, so we are bringing you 7 tips to help fathers connect to their new child.
1. Start early
Don’t wait until your baby is brought home from the hospital to start forming a strong bond. Make it a point to hold your baby within the first few hours after birth. Make eye contact, hold their hand, and talk to them. Let them get to know the way you look, sound, and smell. Spend some alone time with them while mom is in the shower or resting.
Your baby is just learning about other people. You, dad, are the second most important person in their life. Introduce yourself to them wholeheartedly.
2. Connect skin to skin
As soon as a baby is born, they are usually handed to the mother so she can rest them on her bare chest. Skin-to-skin contact is known to help babies regulate their temperature, release oxytocin, calm down after the traumatic experience that is being born, and feel safe and secure. Fathers can help make their babies feel the same way.
Once your baby has had time to relax and bond with mom, take your shirt off and sit in a comfortable chair. Unswaddle your baby and lay them right on your chest. Cover them up with a soft blanket so they don’t get cold. You both will release oxytocin and start feeling a deeper connection with one another.
3. Bathe together
Newborn babies don’t need to take baths very often. Typically, they only require a sponge bath for the first few weeks. However, taking a bath with your baby can help release more oxytocin and strengthen your bond.
Fill the tub with body temperature water. Use a soft baby washcloth to pour a little bit of water on your baby and clean underneath their arms, next, and other folds. Take a few moments to just relax in the warm water and enjoy some skin-to-skin contact. Perhaps take this time to talk or sing to your baby so they become more familiar with your voice.
Make sure you have someone to hand your baby to when you’re ready to get out! Wet babies and tubs can be slippery.
4. Take time from work
According to the Family and Medical Leave Act, most employees are entitled to 12-weeks of unpaid time off after their baby is born. It can be difficult to take this much time off from work, but it’s so important for your family. After birth, new moms and babies need fathers to be around. Fathers are there as an extra set of hands, to give mom a break when she feels overwhelmed, and to bond with baby.
Even taking a week or two off from work can make a huge difference to your family. These days are crucial for settling into your new role as a father and helping the new mom in your life settle into her new role.
5. Exercise with your baby
It’s important to find new ways to bond with your baby as they get older. Walk around the neighborhood with them in the stroller. Strap them into a baby bike seat or trailer. If they can walk, go on short walks together or run around the yard. This will allow you two to spend time together and get to know each other’s personalities.
6. Create special rituals
Create little moments throughout your day that are meant just for you and your baby. These moments will become a valuable part of a daily routine for you and your baby. When you show up in these moments, again and again, your baby will deepen their trust in you. These small moments could become incredibly meaningful memories one day.
You might read to your child every night after their bath. Or watch one episode of their favorite show when you get some from work. It could be something as simple as a kiss on the forehead every time you leave for work. No matter what it is, these rituals add up to truly special moments.
7. Be a parent, not a babysitter
Sometimes, parents get into the habit of saying that dad is “watching” the kids or “babysitting” for the night. Fathers are not simply doing a temporary job when they are alone with their children. They have the opportunity to learn, bond, and teach.
When fathers are given the “babysitter” role, it kind of removes them from their “father” role. Quality father-child time is crucial for establishing a connection that will last forever.
Strong Connections at Meaningful Beginnings
Here at Meaningful Beginnings, we understand how important it is for babies to connect with other people. Whether you bring your baby to our childcare center while you are working or just want to allow them to socialize with others, we will ensure they learn how to establish healthy connections with others.
If you are interested in learning more about our state-of-the-art childcare facility, please call to schedule a tour today! We are always happy to answer any questions you might have about our services, teaching methods, or staff members.