Women are way ahead of their men when it comes to bonding with their babies. Not only do mom-to-be's get to find out first but they feel those first kicks first, too. They are also the first to realize there's a baby in there, upon feeling sick and seeing their tummy grow and expand. They then get to feel the baby move from the inside, until one day, Dad can too. It's towards this time that Dad finally gets a glimpse of his upcoming bundle of joy with the help of the ultrasound as well.
Mom has nine months of carrying him in her body that dads just don’t. Then she gives birth (Dad can have some of that part), sees him, holds him, feeds him, and now it’s the guy's turn. He’s a daddy to someone. She had nine months to figure that all out and get used to it, but yeah, he’s a dad.
So this list will help him bond and take advantage of each and every moment possible. He does have 18 years ahead of him -- surely he didn’t think pregnancy was the hard part? If so, well good luck. To be honest, there is something he should know, he really has already done the hardest part. He showed up. Now he just has to keep doing that.
20 Nighttime Super Hero
One of the most obvious ways Dad can bond with the baby is by taking some night shifts with the little one. According to the Huffington Post, those wee hours in the night are so important for serious one-on-one connection because the baby quickly learns that Dad comes to her side and aide her when she is uncomfortable or in need—not just mom.
Dad can find pacifiers, feed her (assuming Mom is keeping a few pumped bottles in the fridge or baby is being given formula), comfort her, rock her, walk around bouncing her, and any and everything else that your little one may need to get back to feel comfortable enough to fall back asleep.
19 Change Your Book Preferences On Amazon
Start stocking up on books now. People even have Book Showers in addition to Baby Showers. We all know how important reading is but the truth is, they aren’t going have a clue what any of the words or pictures mean for a while.
But don’t think that is an excuse to get out of buying all of those board books. In fact, Psychology Today notes that neural networks are actually formed from the rhythm, repetition, and rhyme of baby books. Those neural networks are the very groundwork that must be laid so children may be able to read a few years down the road.
18 Moby Dick At Three Months, Huh
Tired of all the letters in coconut tree yet? Asking all the animals what they see and asking the other animals what they hear can be daunting night after night.
They don’t know if we are reading them War and Peace or Winnie the Pooh. Dad can read them his sports teams’ statistics. Or read them the book he is reading for fun.
Goodness, he can even read them the back of the cereal box. Baby Center mentions, connecting to the baby through reading is about the little one hearing their caretaker's voice. They heard it for nine months, and Dad should keep talking to them now even when the two of them are alone. It can often feel awkward at first, so recommend he try reading a book to ease the nerves.
17 Kangaroos Aren’t The Only Ones Who Have It Made
Is Dad getting cabin fever? Maybe he's craving a coffee from down the street? Or he just wants some fresh air? Give him a break. He deserves it. Tell him to grab the sling, or carrier, wrap, or whatever the one you have is called.
Just don’t forget the baby. Make sure he has everything the baby is going to need. Don’t forget to take into consideration the weather. And then of he should go. Encourage him to walk down to the cafe and sit a while just to people watch. Maybe he can meet a friend and catch up.
Dads need to remember they’re going to last a lot longer than the baby will. So, starting out with a short outing the first time and progressively make them longer is a good idea. Zero to Five encourages using a carrier often instead of only using a stroller.
16 Booga Booga Boo!
Kid's Health stresses the importance of age and developmentally appropriate play. Making sure the baby is at the right stage developmentally for the type of play you are introducing is important. Your little one will take on his/her own little personality so very quickly. Play becomes a favorite part of the interaction between a baby and daddy.
It is all about fun time and getting as many of those precious baby giggles as possible. It's great relaxation and stress relief for Dad, too.
He can try out peek-a-boo, gentle tickles on sides and thighs, some more on the arms and neck, silly faces, making funny noises with his mouth and tongue, blowing puffs of air at the baby, giving raspberries, and tickling the bottom of their feet.
15 Splish Splash Or Wiggle Worm
According to Otteroo, bath time is one of—if not thee—most important times for bonding. It is vital for attachment and connection for many reasons, but one of which is that all the focus is on just Dad and the baby. There is complete skin to skin contact. Gentle massage as soaping and cleaning is being done is also great for babe.
There is unbroken eye contact, and it is a great time to sing songs and read bath book as well as other bath-time rituals your family may include. A bathtime with that type of ritual and purpose helps babies to build very basic blocks that will help them to start the process of learning to trust and attach to her parent
14 Oh, Baby, That Feels So Good
Baby massage is a very generic term which can mean anything from slowly rubbing lotion into the baby’s skin to a very detailed studied profession. It has been found that when the baby’s skin is rubbed, it can help with bonding, as well as improving their lymphatic system, immune system, and overall health.
As a bonus, the baby usually sleeps better, too. Also according to US News, the rubbed skin, “stimulates the vagus nerve, which is linked to different parts of the body. It slows down the physiology, so it slows heart rate, it slows blood pressure, it changes brain waves in the direction of relaxation"
13 Get Some Fresh Air And Become An Eye-Catcher
Who doesn't love gorgeous afternoons when we get to put the baby in the stroller and experience a beautiful walk with them? We can see the world through her eyes, see what she is seeing, and watch her face as we give her little tastes of food.
We can show her a dog, or a cat, or see how she reacts to different people. We get to hear her laugh echo through the air as she stares in amazement at the red balloon we tied around her stroller. We can read her fairytales in the children’s bookstore.
Taking her out for afternoon walks in our community in her stroller somehow makes us think she is absorbing it all, too. The Telegraph agrees with this in that we should get back to our pram or stroller ways in taking our babies out for walks. This is one thing Dad can spend loads of time doing with ease.
12 Offer To Take Diaper Duty
It stinks, literally. Dads are going to have precious time with their baby looking straight up into their eyes for 3 to 5 minutes every time they have to change her. Daddy can kiss her tummy, give her a raspberry, tickle her neck, and sing her a song. He can do anything he wants (and it will be his thing…something he only shares with her).
Even TIME Magazine suggests dads step up their game and start taking over diaper duty. Also, it's just one of those things that just have to be done. It comes with the preciousness. It is not all bad. This too shall pass (literally). Those special moments are guaranteed. Every single day, she will need Dad's service.
11 Call In Sick
Part of bonding with a child is dealing with minor emergencies like illnesses. It's a serious adjustment for dads when they have to shift from being a workaholic or responsible only for themselves to having this tiny little person that is dependent on them for everything.
That includes illness. When the baby is sick, although it is hard to see him and her looking so ill, someone needs to step in and take care of the little one. Today's Parent talks about the torn nature of having the baby needing us but still feeling connected and obligated to our work.
Yes, this is super scary for everyone, Dads. Seeing your baby sick is painful. But once it is over with and you can see your wee one looking more like themselves again, we promise you’ll be able to breathe again. In the meantime, soak up the extra cuddles as we moms do.
10 Clean Up, Clean Up, Everyone Everywhere
When we mothers close our eyes and think about our dream man, he’s tall, great with kids, and cleans. Not only does he clean, but he also gets others around him to clean, too.
Okay, yeah so it is Barney the Dinosaur. Baby Center points out that if Dad straps the baby to his chest and goes about his normal daily routines, it can help create a bond. So, if the baby is calm, Dad can put him in his carrier in the front and use the Swiffer slowly on the hardware floors.
Maybe slowly use the vacuum on some of the carpeted room. Also, fellas, you can run a dust rag over some shelves or furniture (make sure not to knock the dust onto the baby). The baby will enjoy the ride, and the whole family will enjoy your hard work.
9 Mirror, Mirror On The Wall
Do you remember that limerick about Pete and Repeat? Well, that is a lot like this. One way babies learn in the early stages is by mirroring or mimicking. The repeat what they hear and do what they see.
One fun way Dad can bond with the baby is to mimic what they do, or make a noise or face and watch them try to copy it. It depends on the age of the child as to what exactly the baby is able to mimic.
Copy their coos and watch their faces. Mimic their facial expressions. Watch them light up. The mimicking and mirroring is the beginning of communication between you and your baby, according to Baby Center.
8 Daddy: Live And In Concert
One way to bond—according to Code Name Mama—is to perform for baby. Does Dad sing? Does he play the guitar? The accordion? Even if he can’t carry a tune in a bucket, the baby is going to think he is a rock star.
So, he can make her think she is one too by giving her special performances. Dad can make up songs for her, or sing popular hits with her name in them. He may even sing some tunes that remind him of her.
Encourage him to sing her his favorites as well. We still remember the songs that were sung to us as babies. You would be surprised how easily they will start to calm her after you sing them a few times.
7 Full Contact Is Fabulous
The number one way to bond with a newborn baby as mentioned in literature, by doctors, and by other dads is… the skin on skin bonding. As soon as possible—after the mother has the chance to bond with skin on skin bonding, placing the baby on the father ’s upper chest is one of the best moves new Dads can make.
Watching that tiny baby cuddled upon him is one of the most prolific and profound sites a mother will ever behold. Aside from that though, once the baby attains skin on skin contact, Baby Gooroo says, “immediately the baby relaxes and the baby’s body temperature, breathing, and heart rate stabilize.”
6 Full Contact, Take Two: Old T-Shirt Edition
Using a shirt hack found on Code Name Mama, Dad can change some of his old t-shirts so that they can be worn by both Dad and baby simultaneously. You read that right. So, Dad and baby can both snuggle and stay warm. At the same time, have complete skin on skin contact, and his head is resting on your chest.
Gather up some of your old loose tees, mark the center of the collar on the front. Then, using a pair of scissors, cut a six-inch line straight down from the mark you made on the center of the collar. Then, put the shirt on, insert baby so that his body is still under the shirt on your chest, but his head is bare through the slit. Or, buy one from crafty moms on Etsy. Either way!
5 Rock A Bye, Baby
Putting baby to sleep can definitely be an enormous task at times. If she is not feeling well, try giving her a pacifier or cuddle toy. Maybe cradle her in Daddy’s arms and sit in a rocking chair or glider. The Huffington Post explains how everyone responds to motion.
Even adults respond to that sense of swaying; think of a hammock.
That swaying feeling is what we are going for—not whiplash. Some babies like more sway and some like less; you’ll find the groove. If Dad's arm is falling asleep and she isn’t any closer to snoozing, he can try holding her against his chest or against his other arm. Don’t worry, one of them has to fall asleep at some point.
4 Everyone Start In the Fetal Position
Baby Yoga—Daddy and Me Yoga— “is about a rich communication with your baby through touch, stretching, cradling, massage and movement,” says the Houston Public Library. It is steeped in focusing on the baby, eye contact, touch, and constant connection.
Like all yoga, it claims to take care of both the physical and mental needs of baby and daddy through nurturing, educating and supporting. Very Well Fit notes, a baby yoga class focuses more on the connection between Daddy and baby than the perfection of poses.
Just in case Dad isn't an advanced yogi. These classes are mostly for Mommies, so don’t be surprised if there are only a few Daddies or if you are the only dude to show up.
3 When I Dip, You Dip, We Dip
Dads can cradle the baby and walk around with their arms slung low like she would have moved in utero. Holding her the same way, sit on a yoga ball and slowly roll side to side, front to back, around in a circle, and back again.
Her old address was in mama for nine months. She might be homesick.
Finally, stand and rotate your hips in very wide circles dipping down with each rotation then rotating the other direction come back up. Code Name Mama makes an excellent point that by Dad mimicking all these motions of how the baby felt inside of Mommy's womb helps to bond.
2 Find A Brotherhood Of Baby Daddy Dudes To Hang Out With
That was a movie meant for entertainment purposes. However, it actually makes a really good point. Becoming a dad is really hard work, and having friends in the same or similar situations can really help our men through all of it.
So, how does that help him bond with the baby? He has a support group, people there for him to talk to when he needs help, or have questions. Sometimes, they're there just to hang out with when he needs to be around a grown-up. Also, Mom can be there for them too.
Think about finding Dad a group to call his own collection of Daddy Dudes. Sites like What To Expect can help you find the right group for your area and situation.
1 Rub A Dub Dub
Several sources—including What To Expect—suggest taking the baby into the tub with you as a way to bond. One of the major reasons this could be a bonding experience is because of the skin to skin contact once again. Once Dad is in the tub, with the water going about halfway up baby's back, she feels her body safely against his along with the warm water and will generally start to relax.
After a while, she will probably start to feel a bit braver and look around at the new surroundings, maybe even reaching for things, splashing a little, or responding to a tiny splash Dad make.
Goodness knows they're good for that!
References: Code Name Mama, Very Well Fit, Huffington Post, Baby Gooroo, Baby Center, Today's Parent, TIME, The Telegraph, US News, Otteroo, Kid's Health, Zero to Five, Psychology Today, What to Expect