I’ve never heard a father say, “Mom’s get to do everything; they get to carry the baby for nine months, they get to birth the baby, and they get to feed the baby.” But… regardless of the fact that men aren’t extremely envious of the discomfort that comes with pregnancy, child birth, and feeding, they are sometimes envious of the bond and singular importance of a mother in the baby’s life.
Fathers don’t need to be envious; they just need to be involved. Because fathers don’t hold the same necessity of physical closeness and connection as mothers, they have to create the opportunities to connect and bond with their newborn children. Many fathers struggle to bond with their newborns because of the lack of verbal communication and interactive activities. Many fathers think the baby “just sort of lays there.” It’s true that mom could feed and nurture the baby without you, but she will never be “daddy.”
The following four simple tasks are things every father can do each day to forge an incredible bond with his newborn son or daughter.
1. Look at and hold your newborn.
When babies are new, they are small and fragile. Fathers often feel like they are going to break them and are unsure what to do with a helpless little person. It’s true that they are small and fragile, but babies are resilient and stronger than we think. First, don’t worry, you won’t break the baby. I promise. Pick up your newborn child each day and spend some time just looking at her features. Examine her mouth, nose and little fingers. Decide what the baby got from you and what features remind you of her mom, grandma or grandpa. Listen to him breathe, or take special note of the tone of his voice when he sighs, or even when he cries. Just get acquainted with your baby in a more intimate way.
2. Talk to your newborn.
Your baby’s hearing is intact from birth. Many babies already know, and seem to physically recognize and respond, to the voice of their mother when they are born. As you hold, soothe, rock, and observe your child, let him get more acquainted with you. Talk to him. Michael Meyerhoff, EDD of Discovery Health, explains that newborns are upset by loud, sharp noises, while soft, rhythmic sounds generally calm them. Just the slow, soft sound of your voice can help to strengthen the bond between your baby and you.
3. Play with your newborn.
Obviously, it’s not wise to play with a newborn the way you would with your 10 year old, but you can play none the less. The dictionary simply defines play as, “to amuse oneself.” In the case of playing with a baby, we attempt to amuse the baby. Babies begin responding to sights, sounds, and touch very early. Gently touch your babies chin, cheeks, tummy, or toes and throw in a “gonna getchoo.” Watch her move and respond to your touch and voice. Savor each response and coo.
4. Help with your newborn.
Alright, the last suggestion is to change a few diapers, bathe your baby, dress him or her, help Mom during feedings, clean the spit up, and even get up in the middle of the night instead of thinking, “my wife’s got this.” It’s amazing how bonded we begin to feel to the people we serve. This will also score some points with Mom.
All relationships need time together. Your relationship with your newborn child is no different. Sometimes it can feel like the baby just wants Mom and Dad isn’t much use but it’s simply not true and the bond between baby and Dad is just as important and powerful. It seems like great Dads are a dying breed in our society today but it doesn’t have to be that way. A great relationship starts with a great bond and a great bond starts with love. So let’s not let Mom have all the fun. Let’s build an undying, unbreakable connection starting at day one.
Question: What has helped you feel connected to your newborn?
Don’t forget to download your FREE copy of “5 Jump Starters for Powerful Family Cycles: Creating Happier and More Effective Parenting THIS Week!”