As a dad, oftentimes the reality of having a baby doesn't set in until they're born. Even then, bonding can take a while and this new role of fatherhood can feel oh, so intimidating. We get it and it's completely normal. You didn't carry, birth or nurse your baby and it all feels abstract.
One of my favorite parts of being a Postpartum Doula is to help dads grow closer to their babies and watch their confidence soar.
Check out Doulas of OC’s top 8 tips for dads to bond with their newborn!
Pick your favorite books, hold your baby in your lap and read, read, read. Not only does reading to your baby help encourage early language development, but she will love listening to the unique tone and natural rhythm of your voice. If you have a hard time with basic board books, try pulling out your favorite PG chapter book to read aloud. Baby doesn’t care too much about the content, they care about connection.
Bath Time Bubbles
Bath time is a perfect way to introduce a simple routine that can be just for you and baby. Whether it’s every night before bed or every other day, you will gain confidence as you care for your little one and ensure a special time carved out to enjoy being a dad.
Physical touch is so very important for brain development and emotional security. By introducing a basic massage routine to your week, the bonding hormone, oxytocin will be flowing in both baby and dad. The release of this hormone creates a strong attachment and actually increases your desire to be present and close with those you love.
Singing During Diaper Changes
Diaper changes. It’s a mundane occurrence that happens way too often, right? A baby needs 8-12+ diaper changes a day, which leaves SO many opportunities to connect with your baby while they’re usually awake. I like to encourage fathers to utilize this time making eye contact with their baby and sing a song. Before you know it, it will be the favorite part of your day.
Tummy Time Giggles
Play is the foundation for early childhood. Get down on the floor and play with your baby. Make silly faces, shake a rattle, tickle their toes and imitate their sounds. You have many more years of play ahead of you, so start now by building a strong attachment rooted in joy.
Shirtless Bottle Feeds
We promise this idea wasn’t just started by new moms waiting for their 6 week clearance. Multiple studies show that holding your baby skin-to-skin while feeding them, increases bonding, regulates baby’s temperature and encourages baby to be accustomed to your scent. Simply get your little one in a diaper only, cradle them upright in the nook of your arm, make eye contact and feed your baby.
Master the Swaddle
There’s nothing like watching a new dad beam with pride as he calms his crying baby. From the football hold to bouncing on the yoga ball, to swaddling and shhhhhhhhing; a postpartum doula will help you practice each and every soothing technique for your fussy newborn!
All the Cuddles
The desire to be held spans across every age and starts from the moment you’re born. Babies are often go from rocker, to swing, to crib to tummy time and crave to touch from those they love. You don’t need to hold your baby all day long to create a strong bond. Plop your baby in your arms while catching up on the morning paper or snuggle during the basketball game. As a doula, I teach all dads how to use a baby-carrier to be able to get some baby snuggles in while still having both hands free!
We hope this list gave you some ideas to start building connecting with your newborn baby in your every day routine!