Just like moms, dads take time learn how to care for and form a bond with their baby.
Some dads take to it straight away but others take a little time.
Breastfeeding forges a powerful bond between mom and baby and dads can feel like they aren’t really needed in those early days.
But, there’s always ways for dads to spend time with and bond with their baby. If you need a few ideas, here they are!
Dad’s rock at playtime!
Babies need a lot of touch for healthy development, and dad’s can play fun games with baby to help them. Depending upon the baby’s age, there are different types of play that baby will enjoy. You can’t roughhouse or run around with a newborn (yet… those days will come!), but there are so many other ways to play with your baby.
Some great games to play with babies include:
- peek-a-boo – this often makes babies laugh (if they’re at that stage in development – laughing usually starts to happen around 3-4 months).
- flying game – hold baby securely and ‘fly’ them around the room in your arms.
- silly faces – make silly faces and see if they smile.
- tickling games – games like ‘Round and round the garden’ and ‘This Little Piggy’ are great to play with babies! They’ll start to anticipate the tickling as they develop more and will smile and laugh on cue!
- play with toys – rattles, shaker toys, drums, button toys, you can have fun introducing them to these toys and enjoying their exploration of it.
Helping At Night
To be honest, most breastfed babies waking at night want one thing, and one thing only. (Boob)
So, dad might feel a little superfluous at night.
But, dads can soothe the baby, comfort them with a soft voice, help with diaper changes, and get the baby ready for a breastfeed.
This is especially helpful in the early days when mom is still recovering from birth.
Babies love to be sung to.
It helps them to be calm, recognize your voice, interact with you and develop language skills.
Plus, singing is fun.
You might even get your little one to make sounds as you sing. Singing nursery rhymes is a great way to teach children how to sing, speak and learn about rhyming. Some nursery rhymes also have life lessons involved. You can sing ABC’s to your little one to get them off on the right foot.
I totally forgot most nursery rhymes before I had my little one (don’t worry, you’ll learn them again via baby singing sessions or Youtube), so here’s a short list:
- Mary Had a Little Lamb
- Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (this song has magical calming qualities for real! Try singing it when baby is crying in the car and you can’t stop to comfort them.)
- Baa Baa Black Sheep
- Incey Wincey Spider
- Open, Shut Them – you’ll enjoy seeing baby develop and learn how to ‘open’ and ‘shut’ them and eventually sing the whole song with actions as a toddler. They grow up so fast!
You can never start too young reading books to your baby.
Even if they can’t comprehend the pictures on the page, they’ll understand that you’re doing an activity together.
It helps them learn at a young age that reading is enjoyable.
Board books or cloth books are perfect to read to babies. The more pictures the better.
Simple books with pictures of objects or animals and their names work well.
Here are some great books for babies:
- Baby Touch and Feel Animals – this book is great for sensory stimulation as well as reading with textured bits in its pages. My toddler still enjoys his touch and feel books.
- Chunky Lift-a-Flap Board Books – board books are excellent for babies because the pages aren’t tearable.
- Goodnight Moon – then there are the classics like Goodnight Moon. Although this book has more words in it, it makes for a good bedtime read. Your baby will enjoy listening to the sound of your voice as you read it.
- Baby’s First Soft Book – soft books are perfect for very young babies. This one includes crinkle paper, a mirror and different textures for baby to enjoy exploring. It’s also in high contrast colors (black and yellow/white) which is great for newborns!
If you read the same books every day you might notice that your baby gets excited. It doesn’t matter if they understand what the book is about. Your baby enjoys sitting in your lap, being held by you, you paying attention to them, learning and listening to your voice.
Take Baby for A Walk
Make it a habit to go for a daily walk with your baby. It not only helps you get some exercise in, you can also turn it into a real bonding opportunity. So, forgo the earphones unless they’re asleep.
Talk to them about things you want to do with them when they get older. Tell them about their mom, siblings or their extended family. Point out birds, talk about how blue the sky is, and show them many other wonderful things.
It’s up to you whether you want to take your baby for a walk in a baby carrier or use a stroller. Babies usually enjoy the extra closeness of a carrier, and you might find you do too.
Go to the Park
Once your little one is a few months old, you can introduce them to the park.
While they’re probably still too little to do much, you might be able to try the swings (if you’ve got a baby carrier on, just leave them in there and swing on the big-boy swing with them). Some parks also have a special swing made for babies, if your baby has head control and is able to sit, you might like to give this a try.
Gently swing your baby, cheer, smile and clap for them.
If they are able to sit, you might try helping them slowly go down the slide. Hold them upright so that they don’t fall and hit their head. It’s best not to go down the slide with them on your lap, but I’m not going to tell you what to do. There is a risk if the child’s leg gets stuck on the slide that the parent’s weight coming down the slide can cause it to break.
Show baby around the park, and let them know all the amazing things they’ll get to do when they get older.
Nighttime stories are wonderful at any age and can be part of a legendary nighttime routine that your child will remember for the rest of their life.
You could give your baby a warm bath, a bottle and a nighttime story to develop a healthy habit for going to bed. You can make up stories, tell family stories, go over what you did for the day to help your baby to remember what you did, and you can tell fairy tale stories.
Help With Feeding
I left this one til last because I’ve heard it used as a ridiculous argument against exclusively breastfeeding. >>> like it’s selfish of you to breastfeed because you’re denying dad (and whoever else) wants to bond with your baby by feeding them a bottle.
That is ridiculous.
If you’re already pumping milk, you can get your husband involved in feeding the baby. (But don’t feel like you have to, or that this is needed for dad to bond. There are so many ways to bond with baby!)
Here are some tips for helping dad bond with baby while feeding:
- get him to look directly into baby’s eyes, and let baby study his face.
- get him to smile, coo and make other soothing sounds.
Bonding with your baby isn’t hard. You just need to understand how babies develop, and show them the wonderful things in this world in a loving way. Don’t feel bad if it doesn’t happen immediately. The most important thing is to try – your bond will come in time. It will grow day by day. Think of other ways to bond with your baby. Each baby has a different personality. You will pick up on what they like as you get going!
Did you get something out of this post? Please share with others in your circle of friends!