New dad baby

How can dads better bond with their newborns?

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For better or worse, a lot of the narrative around dealing with newborns ties back to the mother. This makes sense, obviously — in most cases the baby came out of her, and I’d argue mothers are still the gender we associate with child-rearing. This story is changing a little bit, though: in America at least, men are starting to work from home more than women and take a larger chunk of the child-rearing responsibility. Globally even, it seems dads are significantly more involved in child-rearing than they were 50 years ago — with many of them reporting in studies that it’s “central to their identity.” So, how can dads better bond with their newborns?

Before we get into this, just a quick word that I feel I should mention:

Obviously every family is different. It could be a married couple, a dating couple, an accident that the two people are co-raising, two moms, two dads, etc. I can’t cover off on every situation in these articles, so if this doesn’t apply to you directly, I apologize. If you ever have any questions about the doula side of things or what products I recommend, I’d dole out that info regardless of your familial context. I love to help.

OK, back to the central issue at hand: how can dads bond better with newborns, if they are taking this bigger role?

The eyes on breastfeeding vs. bottle-feeding: When a female breastfeeds, the angle is usually close to the chest, nurturing, and with a direct view into the baby’s eyes. Men cannot breastfeed (I sincerely hope that wasn’t breaking news for anyone). But when they bottle-feed, they can use the same positioning.

Work with the baby when he/she is crying: This would involve walking the newborn around, singing to her/him, cradling, rocking slowly, etc.

Silly faces: A time-honored tradition.

Daddy dance party: Most research indicates babies love music almost from their arrival in the world. Set aside some time each week for a daddy dance party, which can go into the toddler stage. Emotionally, it’ll make that first dance with your daughter 20-30 years from now even more powerful too. Use a special song and teach your baby how to use their body as they grow.

Be aggressive about what you can get in terms of paternity leave: After all, it’s on the rise. Paternity leave = more time, and time is what we all want more of. Plus: time is the best way for any type of bonding to occur.

Read: Do this regularly, i.e. nightly.

Carry the baby in a sling or front carrier as you go about your day: This sometimes gets men mocked — remember The Hangover films? — but it’s important as a source of developing connection.

Take the night shift: This is a common arrangement between partners, but admittedly we can take the night shift too.

Diaper duty: This isn’t the hero’s journey here, but it needs to be done — and it supports your partner too.

Find your dad crew: Every sitcom in history seems to have a joke about this. But when you find that dad crew (at the park, gym, golf, whatever), you can use them for advice, new ideas, things they’ve tried, questions about your relationship now that you have kids, etc. It can be invaluable.

What other ways have you seen a new dad bond with their kid, either from personal experience or in general?

Kristin Smith

Kristin is a wife, mom, doula and a kick ass swaddler. She spends her time helping families get top notch support throughout their parenting journey. When she isn't swaddling babies, she can be found sipping latte's and watching her daughter play softball. Read more...

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