Developing an early connection with your baby is essential to the long-term health and happiness of your child and family. Responding to your newborn’s needs includes building a safe and trusting foundation for a lasting emotional relationship. While many mothers may feel an immediate and instinctual bond with their newborn, the connection between father and child may not be as instant.
Here are our top tips to develop and nurture a deeper connection between father and baby in the early weeks and months of your baby’s life.
Of the five senses, touch is the first sensory newborns develop at birth. Skin-to-skin contact with your baby will familiarize him/her to your parental scent — the beginnings of a parent-child bond. Not only will your baby find your touch calming, but they will likely find your heartbeat soothing as well. Beyond emotional attachment, skin-to-skin contact also helps babies regulate their body temperature, heart rate, breathing, and blood sugar.
At birth, babies have not yet developed their full range of sight and their vision is limited to objects eight to ten inches from their face. By eight weeks, they begin to develop eye-hand coordination and are able to better focus their eyes on the people around them. Making direct eye contact with your baby provides a meaningful way to communicate and connect with them.
Like touch and skin-to-skin contact, setting aside time with your newborn for a baby massage offers quiet time for father and baby to bond. In addition to positive mental health and development, regular baby massages will also help your baby sleep deeper, strengthen their immune system, and regulate their circulation.
It may be a stinky job, but someone has to do it! Sharing diaper duty with your spouse will likely win you brownie points, and your baby will also appreciate a fresh new nappy. Talking, singing, and making silly faces while changing diapers, while also absorbing their cues and signals, promotes another opportunity to engage in one-on-one time with your baby. Caring for him/her in meeting their physical needs, like changing a dirty diaper, also teaches your baby trust and dependability.
Bath time is a multi-sensory experience where your baby can discover their senses. Playing with water toys and sponges will help develop their motor skills, and blowing bubbles will enhance their visual coordination. Establishing a fun and relaxing routine is an activity both father and baby can look forward to.
Establishing a bedtime ritual is important in helping your baby sleep through the night. If you’re a father who works all day, being part of bedtime activities like reading, singing, cuddling, and prayer, is crucial in developing a meaningful bond and connection with your baby.
Taking on night shift duties is another great way to spend quiet, quality time with your baby. Rocking, walking, and feeding your baby will soothe and comfort them, further developing a closeness shared between father and baby.
Both maternal and paternal bonds are essential to a baby’s overall development and growth, laying the foundation for a trusting and loving relationship.
Sharing in everyday baby duties and putting in place routine and one-on-one rituals, offers fathers and husbands the opportunity to form an intimate connection and bond with your baby.