We’ve all been there. Screaming baby, chaos, and Dad standing there looking like a deer in the headlights.
It can be difficult for a new dad to bond with your baby. He may feel like an outsider at first, and it’s easy for him to feel like a bumbling idiot when trying to help take care of the baby.
Our culture has, unfortunately, often discouraged men from being as involved as they can be, and it’s time to reverse that damage. As mothers, we can help smooth the way for dad and baby to bond well with each other right from the start.
Doing so has an incredibly positive effect on the emotional and physical well-being of both the dad and the baby! You and your husband will feel more like the team you were meant to be. That being said, here are my best tips for getting your husband involved.
Encourage skin to skin time to help dad bond with baby
One of the best things that you can do when your baby arrives is to have lots of skin-to-skin time. You get lots of skin-to-skin time naturally when you breastfeed, and Dad needs to get some time in as well to help him bond with the baby!
Even while still in the hospital, have him remove his shirt and cradle the baby on his chest, covering her with a blanket. This type of contact releases a hormone called oxytocin, the “feel-good” hormone. He will end up adoring this special bonding time!
There are endless benefits to this practice – it keeps your baby calm and helps them adapt to life outside the womb, and there’s research that shows it even helps your baby stay interested in breastfeeding!
It’s best to begin the skin-to-skin bonding at birth, but it’s not too late to start now even if you’re beyond that stage! If your kid is in high school, though, it may be a bit late to start. Sorry, mom.
Have him babywear to encourage father baby bonding
When you’re out and about, or even just around the house, have Dad babywear! Babywearing is when you use a sling or carrier to strap your baby to your chest or back. It’s a great way to help dad and baby bond with each other. The closeness will help your husband feel much more connected to the baby, and vise versa. Not to mention it gives your tired arms a much-needed break!
There are added benefits for your baby when you babywear as well. It gives them perspective and puts them at conversational height and aids early language development. It also helps prevent Flat Head Syndrome.
You can even babywear into toddlerhood if you so desire, and this prolonged contact can help small kiddos refocus and find their “home base” – you! If you haven’t grabbed a baby carrier/sling yet, it’s a must!! You can find my personal favorite here
Take turns feeding
Do you ever end up just gazing lovingly into your precious little bundles’ eyes while breastfeeding and just feeling like you might burst with love? It’s amazing!
Make sure your husband can experience the same thing by handing him a bottle and showing him how to cradle your baby the same way you do, so they can look at each other. He’ll learn how to feed your baby and they’ll get in some dad and baby bonding at the same time. Your baby will learn that she can get her needs met by Dad, too, not just Mom. Win-win!
Have dad soothe your baby to help him bond with her
When your baby starts crying, it’s easy to just jump right in because you probably know exactly what she needs. Every once in a while, try to hang back and allow your husband to give it a shot. He might feel clumsy at first, but encourage him to keep trying.
If you’ve come up with a particularly good method for soothing, share those tips with him, and then stand back and let him work. With practice, he’ll get as good at soothing as you are!
Don’t take over
As new mothers, we sometimes tend to get frustrated when our husbands don’t do things just right, and it’s tempting to want to take control and just get the task done. But that can be a detriment to dad and baby’s bonding. Try to resist the urge to snatch the baby away. Let him fumble a little bit, it’ll be okay. Really. He needs to struggle through it in the beginning before he gets good at what he’s doing.
If it helps, ask him to change the baby or do some other task while you go in the next room to do something else. When you give him time alone with the baby like this, it will strengthen his confidence and encourages him to be more involved, even as the baby grows older.
Encourage him to talk to her
As you’re putting all of these tips into practice, make sure you and your husband are talking to your baby. It might be a little weird at first because your baby doesn’t understand you yet, but it helps advance her language development. It also helps you remember that you’re taking care of a little person. One fun way to do this is to have a bedtime storytime together as a family. Pick out a favorite children’s book and take turns reading out loud to your little bundle. This could even turn into a sweet family tradition.
Most importantly, whatever you do, jump into parenting as a team. You guys just made a tiny human together, and that’s pretty cool. Lean into each other and support each other during this transitory and amazing time in your life.