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How can dads bond with their newborns? This one can sometimes be a fraught issue because we put a lot of the focus for child-rearing on the female — although thankfully that is changing quickly in broader society.
As a new dad, with probably less time off work initially, how can you bond with your newborn?
Remember this up front
Bonding takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight — and, in most situations, the female will have more time and access to the newborn in early life stages.
Some quick-hit tips on male bonding with a newborn
- Skin-to-cuddle time
- Strong facial contact
- Walk around with newborn in a sling
- Read to them consistently
- Mirror the movements of the newborn
- Take over after breastfeeding for burping, holding, singing, etc.
- Be the parent who deals more directly with soothing the tears
- Take the night shift
- Diaper duty
- Silly faces
- Daddy dance party
- More movement (babies are used to movement because the mom’s hips were always moving in the womb)
One good way to think about all this
This is from a 2009 ABC News article and a quote from Jerrold Shapiro, a professor of psychology at Santa Clara University:
“When infants first arrive … it is very important for the mother to bond with the baby,” he said. “But for the first period of life, and perhaps longer, basically the father is an outsider. The primary bond is between the mother and the infant; the father is there to protect that bond.”
You may be an outsider at first as a dad. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be active and participatory in both helping your partner (the adult) and bonding with your newborn. It’s a series of simple steps and connected time. And hey — phones off during this, OK? That’s very important too.