For to-be or new dads, bonding with your baby is an unchartered territory to excitedly look forward to. However, not many new fathers know quite what to expect when they’ve been handed their little bundle of joy. Even for those who have had children before, the anticipation, excitement and anxiety of a new baby can be baffling ground to maneuver through.
While some immediately feel a rush of love and a strong emotional connection to their little one, others may take longer to form an attachment - this is completely normal. After all, you are meeting a new human being for the first time. This, combined with taking care of your recovering partner, lack of sleep and working out the everyday logistics of caring and feeding, can leave you exhausted and concerned about not bonding quickly enough.
Our advice: take it easy! Bonding can take time so don’t rush it. Small and simple everyday steps can go a long way to helping develop a loving relationship with your baby. Here’s how you can effectively pave the way to a fruitful first few months.
1) Skin-to-skin Contact
Skin-to-skin touch is a great way to help you bond with your infant. It helps calm them down and gives you the chance to really take in the reality of this major life event in a soothing and intimate way. Placing your baby on your bare chest when he or she sleeps, or gently stroke them with the palm of your hand. This is a wonderful way to make them feel secure while spending quality time together.
2) Communicate By Talking
Besides communicating through touch, talking to your child can help you bond with them. By talking or singing to them, you are establishing regular, fatherly communication with your little one beyond just regular care such as feedings and diaper changes. Your baby does not understand what you are saying but will soon start to recognize your voice and communicate back through coos, smiles and cries, which can be a deeply rewarding experience.
3) Caring and Feeding
Playing a role in changing diapers, burping, bathing, playing and putting them to sleep doesn’t just help ease the pressure on your partner, but it’s also a wonderful opportunity to feel connected to your newborn. If your partner is pumping breast milk or formula feeding, you can lend support by volunteering to feed the baby, which is also great for some quiet bonding.
4) Be On Top Of Their Healthcare
The first months of an infant's life are filled with regular doctor’s appointments - especially when adhering to immunization schedules. Being present to calm your baby at the doctor’s office and during their vaccinations can help you be informed about their healthcare and also give you the satisfaction of participating in their important immunization program. Be sure to never miss a vaccine appointment and be informed of the immunization your child needs at every stage of their life.
5) Keep Your Baby Close
Once he or she is old enough to be taken outdoors, try to include them in activities with you. Carry your baby in a carrier or sling when going to the grocery store or doing chores around the house. This physical closeness, along with talking to them while you carry on with your day, can help you forge a close and fun relationship.
Taking care of a newborn can be a daunting and overwhelming experience. However, being an active part of their lives from the very beginning is an excellent way to ease any stress you may have about long-term bonding. The bond you have with your child will strengthen over the course of days, weeks and even months as you get to know them better through regular caregiving and simple yet meaningful everyday interactions.