Father and Baby Bonding

father_bonding_with_babyBy Janine Kelbach, RNC-OB, for HNB:

Daddy has such an important role in their child’s life. Most fathers do not know where to start. Mothers usually feel the maternal bond immediately, but what about dad? The baby is finally, in a sense, real to them. Here are three intimate natural bonding techniques for dads!

 

Cobathing

Sometimes babies like to just go back to where they came from, water! Dads can help in this process by cobathing together. Bathing for cleanliness for babies has become a ritual of the past. Bathing together can calm the child and dad and they can enjoy the closeness of each other. When baby gets a little older, he or she may want to splash and this makes cobathing not only for bonding, but for play.

After an exhausting day of work, soaking in lukewarm water, for baby’s comfort, will relieve all the stress. You may even have a very sleepy baby afterwards! There is nothing wrong with having a bath with your baby.

Remember a few safety tips like:

  • Make sure the water is lukewarm for baby’s skin.
  • Have all bath supplies near you.
  • Have your partner take baby in and out of the tub for you so you do not accidently slip.

 

Kangaroo Time

Starting from birth, dad can hold their baby in skin-to-skin care. There are multiple benefits to skin to skin, or kangaroo care in the beginning of the newborns life. Some examples of benefits to skin to skin are:

  • Better bonding for dad and baby
  • Father and baby become calmer
  • Dad will begin to know baby’s cues for hunger or problems
  • Your baby will feel safe
  • Your baby will cry less
  • Dad will release a hormone call oxytocin (the love hormone) when he feels the skin of his newborn close to him.
  • Stabilizes newborns blood sugar levels and temperature

In the first few weeks after birth and skin-to-skin contact, dad will find that the baby will feel safe with him, and the baby will develop a deep relationship with dad.

To perform skin to skin bonding with baby, dad needs to start by being comfortable. Use a rocking chair with a few pillows, just like mom would use for breastfeeding. When he is seated, he will need to take off his shirt, keep baby in a diaper (or clothed if dad has a hairy chest), and a soft blanket to cover baby with. He will immediately feel the love and warmth of his child.

 

Learning How to Calm Baby, Dad’s Way

Mother and fathers parent differently at times. Mothers need to let fathers have their time with the baby to learn how to soothe the little one his own way. Sometimes that means moms have to leave the house and not be there to get in the way or “rescue” their baby if he or she is crying too much.

Take a night or day and go to the store or out for coffee with a friend. Have dad start with short increments. He will learn his own sounds, holds, and soothing methods for baby. Give him tips, mothers, but do not put him down. Dads will do things differently, and that is okay. A lot of mothers get into “supermom” mode and think their way is the only way. This is exactly why dad needs his time alone. He needs to feel that his way is different, but works just as well.

At night time, share that time. Going to bed is always going to be a bonding experience, even as your child grows. Let dad be apart of it. If the mother is breastfeeding, pump a bottle before bed for baby and let daddy feed the baby. Let dad read stories to baby as the mother does. Have him dress his son or daughter into their pajamas.

Parenting it is a team effort! Mothers should not be the only ones creating bonds with their children. Fatherhood is such an ignored subject until children are old enough to play sports and whatnot. There are multiple ways fathers can be apart of their infant’s life from the first breath and continue that bond throughout life!

Furthermore, intact babies have the natural bonding process uninterrupted. The trauma of circumcision interferes with the bonding process. Based on more than twenty years of clinical observations using leading-edge techniques, psychiatrist Rima Laibow, M.D., reports,

“When a child is subjected to intolerable, overwhelming pain, he conceptualizes mother as both participatory and responsible regardless of mother’s intent. . . . The consequences for impaired bonding are significant. . . . Circumcision is an enormous obstacle to the development of basic trust between mother and child.”