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Dads and babies…
As a first time parent, I can definitely remember how important it was for me to feel like my husband was actually bonding with our son. But what happens when dad is struggling to bond with baby?
Well first off, it takes time. Sometimes months!
Luckily for us, my husband felt an instant connection with our son.
Once we got home, however, it felt like his role shifted significantly. He became the one taking care of both our son and me as I recovered!
Given that there isn’t much newborn advice for dads out there, that’s why I wanted to make this post! I want to share all the ways my husband WAS and still is able to bond and create a beautiful relationship with our son!
p.s. Many of these tips are being provided by my awesome husband himself!
Newborn advice for dads
Some quick tips I want to cover in this post is specifically the ‘newborn’ period. This is a pretty touchy time. Mostly because mom is going through a wild ride of postpartum feels. And by feels I mean her hormones are ALL over the place to a point even she doesn’t know what’s going on.
Knowing that information, below are some tips that can help you be a supportive partner to your spouse AND to your newborn:
- She doesn’t mean to be mean or to cry uncontrollably – her hormones have a way of taking a hold of her in a way she can’t control.
- She doesn’t feel like herself – please be understanding that after birth, you do NOT feel like a normal person. You feel squishy and tired and stressed and it’s mentally exhausting. Feeling unsupported is the worst part of it all.
- She hates that you’re doing all the chores around the house – if she didn’t feel so crummy, please know she’d give anything to wash the dishes and clean the house, feeling like a normal person again.
- YOU can totally take the diaper changes – please do, this lets mom sleep in an extra 5-10mins if she was napping.
- If your baby can take a bottle, offer to do some feedings – it’s a great way to relive some mama stress and bond with baby!
- Know that YOU are not forgotten & she knows you have needs – she’s just too overwhelmed to give any more energy elsewhere, but things will return to normal soon enough!
Dad and baby activities to bond together
Establishing some solid bonding activities for dad and baby is so important! I remember early into parenting, I felt like I had to do everything for our son.
But the reality is – how will dads ever find their own rhythm to do things if mom is constantly hovering?
A note for moms – it’s OK to let your partner spend time with baby. It may feel really hard, but they will ok! If you have specific worries or concerns, voice them, but don’t hover over them the whole time. Let them have their own time to learn what works for them and what doesn’t.
Now, lets get into the best activities for dad and baby to do so they can develop a strong bond:
- Skin to skin – This is so important when babies are still considered a newborn, but skin to skin contact is such a soothing experience and a great way to help you feel connected to your little one.
- Let dad do some feedings – if your baby is allowed to take a bottle of formula or breast milk, let dad do some of the feedings! This is a great time for them to be snuggled up close together while baby associates dad with comfort and feedings.
- Have a dad and baby routine at least once a day – for us, my husband does bath time. It’s his thing. Now, my son 100% prefers his daddy to do bathtime because well, dad is just way more fun and cool. But you can choose anything, it could be a simple diaper change in the mornings or it could be reading a book together before bed, the options are limitless.
- Soothe your baby when they’re upset or get hurt – Mom is not the only one that gets to be the hero. Dads are just as capable and important to allow to help baby feel comforted! Baby will be able to learn that both mom and dad can provide soothing comfort when needed.
- Take baby for a walk – Exploring new places together is such a wonderful time to see new things together while also making sure your baby feels safe and secure.
- Silly playtime – If there’s one thing dads are naturally great at, it’s being extra silly with baby and making them laugh uncontrollably! So why not turn that into a little one on one time and get some bonding in!
- Take baby to their wellness doctor appointments – Not only is going to the doctor a great way to spend time with your baby and comfort them during a usually stressful situation, but it’ll allow you to feel very involved in their medical care. You can take this time to ask your pediatrician questions about your baby’s care and development!
- Talk to your baby throughout the day – even if you’re busy or preoccupied with something else, invite baby to converse with you! You may not understand all their coos and babbles, but you will totally feel close with your baby as they try to communicate with you!
- If your partner breastfeeds, dads you can burp the baby – even though it doesn’t sound like much, burping the baby after feeding is great for getting in some skin to skin or just a nice relaxing bonding session between the two of you.
RECOMMENDED –> If you find yourself constantly clashing with your partner on how or what to do with baby, you might be dealing with some common relationship struggles after birth. To help navigate these, head over to RELATIONSHIP AFTER BABY — a course created by a licensed LCSW specialized in perinatal mental health.
What to do when baby cries with dad?
Rest assured, when your baby cries with their dad it’s likely just a phase.
Though your baby may not seem to enjoy the usual snuggles like they do with mom, it isn’t anything to take personal.
I can’t tell you how many times my own husband felt so sad and upset whenever our boys would put up such a fuss to be with me while being held.
I breastfed and pumped for both our boys, but I think there’s definitely something about breastfeeding that really enhances that mom to baby bond. A special bond that unfortunately they seem to prefer over than being with dad.
But again, it’s always good to remind yourself that this is just a phase.
And when you practice the different bonding tips and activities above, you may find that soon enough, your baby will enjoy their time with their dada!
Father baby bonding importance
I’ve mentioned that it’s important a few times in here for baby to bond with dad, but why? Well, delayed father-baby bonding could increase your chances of developing postpartum depression (yup, it’s NOT JUST for moms).
In addition, the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics, and Neonatal Nurses states in an article that:
“fathers delay bonding with their newborns, they risk altering the long-term course of paternal involvement as the infant progresses throughout childhood and adolescence”Association of Women’s Health, Obstetrics and Neonatal Nurses, June 2017
Without listing out too many more reasons, you can already see some big reasons as to why it’s important for dads to have that baby bonding time as well.
AND on the plus side, this means that moms can catch a break here and there also! It truly is a win-win for everyone!
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>> Easy ways dads can help with breastfeeding
>> Complete Hospital Bag Checklist for Mom, Dad, and Baby!
>> Understanding your newborn – tips for dad