I have heard many times during my time as a birth worker that Breastfeeding prevents Dad’s from being able to bond with their newborn baby, as feeding can take up a large majority of time in those early days, weeks and sometimes months whilst Mum and Baby are finding their feet together. Some new Mum’s have been so concerned that they may prohibit bonding between Baby and Dad, that they have chosen to either mix feed (Breast and bottle) or exclusively bottle feed for this very reason. But this really isn’t the case! Bonding can occur in many ways, feeding is just one of them!
Bonding with your baby can begin even before your baby is earth side, with many daily activities like talking, singing or reading a story to your baby, even interacting by ‘playing’ with the bump. But for now we are going to focus on (number) different ways in which Dad can spend time bonding with his newborn baby.
Burping!….This could be in the middle of a feed or afterwards, upright over your shoulder, or seated in your lap, your baby will soon know how and when they like to be burped! It’s amazing the sense of relief you feel when you hear your baby burp!
Tip: Muslins are a must have in the new parent tool kit , so always have one too hand!
Nappy changing…..So whilst we are discussing feeding, what goes in must come out! Your new baby will need their nappy changing quite a few times throughout the day and night, and just when you have popped a nice clean, dry nappy on, they will seize that opportunity to fill it up….
Tip:Be aware also that once the nappy is removed the air seems to send a trigger response to the bladder to wee all over you, so pop something over the exit point! In fact someone has actually developed a ‘PeePee Teepee’ for little boys….(go ahead google that!)
Babywearing……..Skin to skin contact is one of the most wonderful ways to bond, as baby feels so safe and warm being snuggled up on your chest. They get to hear you, smell you and hang out with you! Your voice and touch will of course be reassuring to them as it was to Mum whilst she carried them during pregnancy. Baby wearing also frees up the use of your hands so you can put them to use too by maybe popping some washing out on the line, or loading a dishwasher 😉
You can also use the sling to take baby out of the house for some fresh air! This is a great way to calm a baby and also give Mum a litle bit of quiet time to maybe sleep or have a long soak in the tub.
Tip:There are many different types of baby carriers out there and it can be a bit of a minefield! But many Areas have sling libraries where you can try before you buy, so this is a great way to start out. There are also safety guidelines to follow when babywearing (TICKS) so be sure to follow these at all times.
Talking, Playing, Entertaining….Your newborn baby will love nothing more than listening to you chat to them, they love to watch your facial expressions, how your mouth moves and will try to mimic you. So take the time to sit and talk to them or just pull funny faces and make silly noises! Your voice is reassuring to them, as long as they can hear Mummy or Daddy; all is well in their world as you are their world.
Tip: A lovely idea is to read a special book to baby whilst they are still in utero and then read it to them when they are here, they will remember!
Bathing….Most newborns like the water if you choose a time when they are awake and not hungry! Better still if you get in the bath with them they will enjoy it even more, another great way to spend special Daddy time with them each evening! It will also gently encourage a night time ‘routine’.
Initially you may need help from Mummy to get in and out of the bath, but once you have done this a few times, you will figure out what ‘stuff’ you will need to have beside the bath to make it as easy as possible.
Tip: Purchase a baby bath thermometer, as you may be used to much warmer baths than what your baby new skin will appreciate!
So you see there are many ways for Daddy to bond with their newborn infants without the need for a bottle! Have fun getting to know your baby, exploring the ways in which they like to do things! After all they are a mini humans and will like things done their own unique way!