For some dads, bonding starts as soon as they first see a beating heart on the ultrasound scan. For others, it can take until the baby is born before they really feel bonded to their child. And for others, bonding is a process that can take a little longer. There is no ‘right time’ to feel bonded with your child. Though it’s not something many dads talk about, bonding can be a slow process that takes places over the first few months of a baby’s life.
Many dads take on the role of carer after the birth. Caring for their partner as she recovers from the birth, and enabling her to care for the baby. Of course, he’ll probably get put in charge of diaper changes, but he may find that the bulk of the caring is done by the new mom. If the mom is breastfeeding, that can take up a large chunk of time each day, so it’s no wonder that bonding takes dads a little longer.
Here are seven easy ways you can help your partner to bond with the new baby:
- Get him involved
You don’t have to stop breastfeeding to enable dad to bond with the baby. If you want to, you could express milk so dad can take over one feed each day, but there’s no need to if you don’t want to pump. Your partner can build a strong relationship with your baby without ever having to feed her, so don’t fall into the trap of blaming breastfeeding. Many dads take on the role of chief diaper changer instead. It’s not as glamorous, perhaps, but at least they don’t end up with cracked nipples. Leave the diaper changing things in another room so that each diaper change gives your partner some time alone with the baby.
The evening bath is another favorite of dads. It gives them the chance to have fun and play with their baby, whilst also being an important part of the evening routine. While your baby may be breastfed to sleep, bathtime allows dad to be involved in this important bedtime tradition. Enjoy some time to yourself whilst they bond at bathtime.
- Baby massage
Baby massage is another great activity for helping your baby to unwind before bed. It’s also a great way for your partner to unwind after a long day at work. Sign your partner up to a baby massage course so he can master the techniques. Massaging the baby each day will give dad a chance to bond with the baby whilst also building his parenting confidence.
- Get a sling
Babies love to be carried. You’ve probably noticed your baby is happier in your arms than in a crib or pram. It’s not practical to carry your baby at all times, after all, you need to use your hands for other things occasionally. A sling or wrap can solve this problem for you. It allows you to carry your baby whilst keeping your hands free. A sling or wrap is a lovely way for dad to bond with the new baby. They can go for an evening stroll together, or he can wear the baby around the house for comfort. It also provides you with the benefit of a little bit of touch-free time.
- Special little things
If you see someone having fun with your baby, it’s almost impossible not to mimic this fun at a later date. Everyone plays differently, and if you see dad having fun in a new way with the baby, it’s only natural that you’d want to get in on the action too. Leaving the new game to them, however, allows them to have a special activity that the two of them can share. This is a great way to encourage bonding, help dad feel irreplaceable and help them start building special memories.
- Think before you speak
If you’re home all day with the baby, it can be frustrating when dad gets home from work and starts doing things ‘wrong’. Think carefully before you criticize, because you could knock his already fragile parenting confidence. Does it really matter whether he does things a little differently to you? You’re both individuals and, of course, will have different ways of doing things. As long as your baby is safe, loved and happy, is it really worth mentioning that he’s put the baby’s clothes on backward?
- Make time for him
Since the baby came along, you probably haven’t been able to spend much quality time with your partner. You’re both exhausted by the end of the day, perhaps even irritable, and it’s hard to find the time to invest in your relationship. Remember, your partner is a new parent too. He’s just as tired, emotional and unsure as you are. Try to make time for him. Ask him how he’s feeling, show him that you care and tell him you love him. Don’t forget to tell him what an amazing father you think he is.
How does your partner bond with the baby?
Written by Fiona (@Fiona_Peacock), mother, writer and lover of all things baby related.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a trained medical doctor. Health & Parenting Ltd disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information, which is provided to you on a general information basis only and not as a substitute for personalized medical advice. All contents copyright © Health & Parenting Ltd 2016. All rights reserved.