Ask the Expert : Dad bonding with Baby
Q: My wife just gave birth to our first baby. They are together 24/7 obviously. I want to help but I am not sure how to be relevant and start bonding with my newborn.
Esther Kimani, MumsVillage Doula and Nutritionist answers:
Mothers naturally bond with baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Dads need to do a bit more to create a solid bonding. Here are five simple steps they can follow to create a solid bond with their new baby.
- Talk to baby during pregnancy. It might feel silly but it helps dad start connecting to the child. By 25 weeks of pregnancy, it would be beneficial for Dad to have established the habit of reading to the baby daily. Studies show that newborn babies recognise their Father’s voice shortly after birth. This is especially the case when exposed to Dad’s voice in utero.
- Kangaroo care after the little one is born – essentially skin to skin touch between dad and the newest addition to your family. Think of how Kangaroos carry their babies in a pouch. You can wear your little bundle of joy in a special sling or carrier, and your baby will get used to your scent, your soothing heartbeat and your warm chest. It will also give Mum’s tired arms a break.
- Teach dad to bathe the little one. Babies naturally love water so associating dad with water and bath time builds positive associations and precious memories. This goes a long way to bring about the bonding process.
- Infant massage. Massaging your baby yields numerous benefits such as accelerating your connection with baby through soothing words and the power of touch.
- Feeding the little one. Mum can express milk for Dad to give on alternate nights or when Mum is not around. Dad can take the lead in giving expressed milk end introducing solids after 6 months
- Soothing the little bundle of joy. Instead of limiting this role to Mum or to the Nanny, Mums should let dad soothe the baby (s)he is colicky, sick or cranky.
- Respect Dad’s opinion. Let him go ahead and do things his way so that he feels part and parcel of the process. Even when you don’t sometimes agree, compromise. Respect the fact that Dads are Different.
For more advice from Esther, contact her through our Info Centre.
See these touching photos of fathers meeting their babies for the first time.