Baby bonding: A guide for new dads
New fathers often feel overwhelmed and unsure of how to bond with their newborns. This guide provides tips and advice on the best ways to connect with your baby.
Some dads find it hard to bond with their little ones when they’re finally born.
You may be intimidated by the bond your baby has with their mother. Likewise, you may feel pressure to fall completely in love with your newborn baby. However, it’s okay if you don’t feel like your bond is very strong when they’re born. It can sometimes take a bit longer for dads to bond but rest assured; you’ll build this connection with time.
If you’re a working father, it can be worth figuring out how to split your time effectively between your job and your baby. You can also use your paternity leave to get a headstart on bonding with your baby so that you don’t have to worry about work.
Ultimately, both parents feel and experience a different bond with their baby, and that’s okay. In the meantime, we’ve put together a guide to help you along the way.
Why is bonding with a newborn so important?
Building a healthy relationship and bonding with your newborn comes with many benefits for both you and your baby. For one, fathers who are hands-on with their children from the start boost their child's physical and mental development, compared to dads who are more absent.
Spending quality bonding time with your baby can also help your mental health by decreasing stress, which can reduce depression later in life. Bonding and contributing when your baby is first born allows your baby to recognise the significance of your presence in their life. By creating this connection, your baby can build trust and reassurance in you.
What can I do to bond with my baby?
Skin to skin contact
Simply being close to your baby and cuddling with skin to skin contact can help build your bond. Try to do this as soon as your baby is born – you can let your midwife know beforehand that you’d like to hold your baby in the delivery room.
When you’re at home, set aside a little bit of time each day to hold your baby on your chest and spend quality time together. Babies find comfort in cuddling, so you’ll be building an association between you and comfort by doing this. You can also massage your baby as this will help to build a strong bond.
Talk/read/sing to them
Try talking or singing to your baby to get them more familiar with you and your voice. Making eye contact with your baby whilst you do this also helps to build that connection.
Even when your baby is too young to understand words, they still love the sound of human voices. Start reading to your baby when they’re young, whether this is your favourite book, a magazine, or something else you enjoy. As your baby grows, start reading more age-appropriate books so that they can enjoy the pictures and textures on the page.
Carry your baby in a sling
When you can’t have direct skin-to-skin contact, carrying your baby in a sling can allow them to feel close to you. This is something you can easily integrate into your day-to-day life. When you’re caring for your baby at home, pop them in a sling and take them around with you whilst you do your tasks.
Play with your baby
Build your relationship by playing with your baby. Even if you have a newborn, young babies enjoy this type of interaction just as much as older babies. You can make faces at them, tickle them, dance with them, or show them objects with different textures. When your baby is stimulated by their environment, they’ll begin to associate you with comfort and fun.
Set up a father-baby tradition
If there’s something that you remember regularly doing with your father that you want to continue with your children, you can make this into a tradition with your child, perhaps when they’re a bit older.
Whether this is getting an ice cream every Friday evening, doing a jigsaw together over the week, or reading together, a regular activity can create these positive associations. Not only does it mean that you get to spend time with your child, but it also means that when they grow up, they’ll have fond memories of you from their childhood.
Final thoughts from Kinhub
The key to bonding with your baby is starting young. The sooner you start making an effort to bond, the better your bond will be. However, every father-baby relationship is different, and the amount of time it takes can vary from person to person. It doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong, so try not to compare yourself to other people. Keep making time in your day to spend quality time with your baby, and your bond will soon blossom.