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How to encourage and develop bonding between dad and a newborn baby

The bond between a dad and his baby is one of my most favorite things to witness. Dad’s have a technique of their own and I have honestly been moved to tears watching my own husband fall into fatherhood.

So how do you, as mom, encourage this bond to be created? It may not come completely natural for dad and that is totally normal and definitely okay. There are ways you can help assist in creating the bond between your baby and your hubby.

Start before baby arrives

Begin before baby is born by involving dad in as many baby related tasks as possible. If you are reading a book, he could be reading it also or help him find a book aimed at fatherhood. Involve him in doctor appointments. When the baby kicks get strong enough to be felt on the outside, grab dad’s hand and let him feel.

Taking a class is a great idea for both mom and dad. This is where you often will be able to create your birth plan- which includes both of you! Be sure to heavily communicate to him exactly what you want him to be doing in the delivery room. Out of everyone involved during this time, he is the one person in the room that knows you best, so he can be a great voice for you if needed.

Get him involved right away

Once baby arrives, it is hands-on, game time. After mom has had a chance to hold baby chest to chest, it is dad’s turn. Skin-to-skin will help create the bond for dad and baby, as well as help regulate the baby’s body temperature. Some of my favorite hospital photos from when my babies were born, are the ones with baby asleep and snuggled on daddy’s chest.

Dad can start taking on tasks as soon as the hospital stay. He could be on diaper duty or give the first bath. If you have confidence in him, he will feel more capable and willing to take on these things that may feel a little daunting at first. The nurses will be great resources for him too if he has questions or needs some tips.

Continue this delegated task idea at home. If mom is breastfeeding, dad may feel he is not needed as much to help with baby. It is still important for him to get bonded with the baby, so choose a task that is dad’s thing. At our house, it became bath time. It was the task he was always in charge of and most of the time still is at our house! If bath time isn’t his thing, there are other ways he could help. Perhaps he gives the evening bottle (mom could pump if nursing) or he gets up with the early morning wake. Another idea is reading to baby before bed, and having that be apart of your nightly routine. Find out what works for you both and stick with it.

Let Dad Do Some Soothing

Once you bring baby home, you will quickly find that he or she will have moments where they just need to be held, rocked or snuggled. As a mother, it is our natural instinct to always be the one to do this. For the sake of bonding, let dad do some soothing as well.

If baby wakes up from their nap fussy and needs to be held and bounced, give dad a chance to be the one to provide the comfort that baby needs. Not only is this great for dad, but it also helps baby understand that their dad is a source of comfort along with mom.

Paternity leave

Hopefully Dad’s work allots some time off once baby is born. Encourage your partner to take advantage of the time he gets to spend with you and baby- however long that may be. It is a huge adjustment for both of you, and will be helpful if you are both able to tackle those first few weeks or so together. It could be he isn’t able to stay away from work for too long, but he could work part-time for a week or so to still be home with you all. If you are looking for ways to save money to be able to stay home for paternity leave, be sure to read this post with a savings plan. 

Leave him in charge

When you feel ready, it is time to leave dad at home with baby for a few hours. I found this was best for me after a few weeks. I usually had some pumped milk by then, I was ready to have him introduce a bottle (another great bonding experience for him!) and I was READY to get out of the house. Try on the weekends during the day since babies are often fussier in the evenings and may want to cluster feed or just want mom. Go treat yourself to a coffee or a nice long walk around target and let dad take the reigns for a bit. You are only a phone call away.

Your encouragement and confidence in him will go a long way in helping the bond form.  Eventually, it will be solidly shaped between dad and baby. It really is the best to see the relationship between your two most favorite people on earth take place.

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