Father

For Dads Only: Bonding with Your Baby

Dad bonding with baby

If you’re a new dad or you are about to become a dad, you may be wondering what your role in your baby’s life will be. While many moms may feel the bond with their baby before they even arrive, for some dads it may take a little time and that’s okay! Your relationship with your baby is a unique and special one and it needs to be nurtured just as the bond does between mother and child. Here are some great ways you can ensure that you and your baby build a lasting and secure bond.

  1. Start before birth: Bonding with your baby can begin as early as when he’s still nestled cozily in the womb. Get involved with your partner’s pregnancy by attending her prenatal visits, taking prenatal classes, feeling baby kick and helping to prepare your nest for baby’s arrival. One way you can actually help your baby get to know you is by singing or reading to mom’s tummy. Somewhere between 20 and 24 weeks gestation, babies start to be able to hear outside voices with their little ears. This will help your baby connect with you once he is born as he will recognize the tones and patterns in your voice.
  2. Practice skin-to-skin care after birth: Kangaroo Care is not only hugely beneficial for mom and baby, but for dad and baby too. Infants who have skin-to-skin contact with their dad following birth and during infancy enjoy benefits such as better thermal regulation, reduced stress and less frequent crying. Also, dads who engage in this practice with their new babes report feeling more closely bonded compared to dads who do not.
  3. Get involved: Many dads may feel like it’s the mom and baby show those first few weeks of infancy, but really, dads are tremendously needed and can be invaluably helpful too! Help with the feedings by bringing baby to mom if she is breastfeeding and then offer to burp baby afterward. Have mom pump for a midnight bottle and be on night duty for special daddy and baby only bonding time. Use diaper changes as an opportunity to make loving eye contact and silly faces with your little one. There are many ways to help with a newborn that will not only give mom some rest but foster a closer connection between you and your baby.
  4. Wear your baby: There are a whole host of benefits to the practice of babywearing and they are not just for moms! Find a sling or carrier that you like, snuggle up to your little one and take a walk around the neighborhood or get stuff done around the house. Carriers are a great alternative to strollers as they allow for the benefits of physical closeness between baby and parent. They are also a great way to be hands-free so you can knock out some chores while cuddling with your babe. Check out this article for more tips on how to safely wear your baby.
  5. Take part in the bedtime routine: Whether it’s being the expert on bath time or choosing a special book that will be just for you and your little one, being part of the bedtime routine is a great way to bond with your baby. If your baby regularly nurses to sleep and needs mom to do the actual putting down at the end of the night, find ways to get involved in the preparation. Your baby will come to know and expect that special time with her dad and it will be a signal that the time to sleep is near. 
  6. Be a soother: Often when babies get upset, a dad’s knee-jerk reaction can be to hand her back to her mother. And if she’s hungry, this is the best solution. However, many times babies will cry for a variety of other reasons where dad can be just as helpful at providing a comforting snuggle as mom. If you’ve ruled out hunger as a possibility, try soothing techniques with your babe like rocking, swaying, swaddling, singing, shushing and bouncing. Often dads can be excellent soothers by just having a comforting voice and a rhythmic bounce. 
  7. Set aside special dad and baby playtime: Whether it’s an evening walk to the park, some silly time on the play mat or a nighttime snuggle with a favorite book, set aside time each day that is just for you and your baby. Not only will this give mom a chance to shower and grab a snack, it will create a predictable routine and special bonding time daily for you and your little one. Use your time together to engage with your baby by making silly faces, allowing him to study your expressions, telling him about your day, playing peekaboo or even giving infant massage a try. These are all fun ways that you and baby can build a lasting and secure bond.
Dad at birth

There are many great ways for dads to create their own special bond with their baby that will foster a mutually beneficial relationship. If you have a new infant at home and you are struggling to feel the connection, don’t worry, it will come. Give some of the above ideas a try and allow yourself time to explore the ways your relationship with your child will be special and unique. For questions about pregnancy, natural birth or postnatal care and infant bonding, please contact Health Foundations for a free consultation with a midwife and for a tour of our Birth Center. We’re here for you from conception to postpartum and beyond.

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Ten ways to celebrate dads this Father’s Day

dadandbabyWhether your partner is a father-to-be, a new dad, or a papa of many years, Father’s Day is a perfect opportunity to recognize and honor his special role in your life and the lives of your children. Here are ten ideas to celebrate him this Father’s Day, Sunday June 16, 2013.  If this is his first Father’s Day it’s a perfect time to initiate a tradition that you follow each year—whether it’s an annual activity or a similar type of personalized gift.  Of course, it’s never too late to start a new tradition (especially when your kids are old enough to help).  Likewise, it’s not too early to celebrate expectant fathers either!

1.  Make your own card

Sure, Hallmark’s been successfully selling sentiments for years, yet there is nothing quite like the personal expression of what a person means to you.  Depending on your talents and inclination, you might consider including a poem in this card.  If you are expecting or your babes are little, perhaps you write a poem as if your kiddos were speaking.  You can talk about the special times they’ve shared this year or the special times to come.  It doesn’t have to be a literary masterpiece; it will be special no matter what (hey, the sillier the better!).  As your kids get older, they can write their own poem to dad.

If words aren’t really your cup of tea, consider a photo card.  You may select one or more special photos from the last year.  Alternatively, maybe you stage a photo of your little ones (or your beautiful pregnant belly!) with a sign that says “Happy Father’s Day” or “I/We love you Dad.”

For older kids, a special drawing or painting made for dad may also be the perfect keepsake.

By making this a tradition you do every year, your partner will have a prized collection of moments and sentiments to look back on in the years to come.

2. Partake in his favorite activity

fathersonsurfThe lifestyle changes that come during pregnancy and especially parenthood often mean less time for our own favorite activities.  Father’s Day is a great time to let your partner indulge in one of his favorite past times, if possible with the whole family.  Of course you know your partner best, but ideas include:

  • sports game
  • special hike
  • family BBQ
  • a park side, lakeside or riverside picnic
  • a fishing trip
  • a meal at a favorite restaurant
  • bicycle ride
  • a camping adventure (even if it’s a pitched tent in the backyard)

3.  Help with a project

Along those same lines, you may help dad with a special project or hobby of his.  Whether its gardening, carpentry, working on the car, brewing beer, or fixing up something around the house, a shared project can be a fun way to connect with dad.   Let him go to the hardware store with a gift card in hand and pick out the tools needed for the job, if he enjoys that kind of thing.  Or, alternatively, get the items needed ahead of time to simplify the job.

4.  Guys night out

While its great to find an activity or project the family can enjoy together, you may decide that what dad really needs is some time for himself.  You might set aside an afternoon or evening for dad to enjoy some guy time—maybe golfing, taking a motorcycle ride, poker night, or a ballgame—arranging as much of the plans as possible so he can enjoy a hassle-free guilt-free outing.

5.  Daddy love coupons

Love coupons are a great way to shower dad with special treats on father’s day.  Kids also love to come up with the “treats” they want to share with dad—extra hours of sleep, special snuggles, help preparing his favorite meal, a back rub, you name it. Kid-designed coupons are adorable and sure to warm dad’s heart.

6.  Make a special meal

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Surprise dad with breakfast in bed or coffee from his favorite café (bonus: let him sleep in while you make it/buy it), a meal at his favorite restaurant, an outdoor grill-out, or a picnic.  This may be something you can turn into a tradition that happens every year.

7.  Hand or footprint art

footprints

This is a fun tradition that celebrates not only dad but the children as they grow. Consider creating some footprint and/or handprint art for dad each year.  There are many ways you can do this:

  • Garden stepping stones with the baby’s prints and the date (after some years, you will have created an entire walkway!)
  • A tee shirt with hand or footprints using non-toxic fabric paint
  • A framed piece of footprint/handprint art
  • A page in a special memory book just for dad
  • Quilt squares

8.  Photo/Video project

Extending from the card idea above, consider framing or having a canvas made of a special photo.  This can be a photo that captures a special moment from the previous year or it may be a specially-staged photo for Father’s Day.   Such a photo may be the perfect thing for his desk at work and not something he is likely to make for himself.

You may also consider making a special video for dad or dad-to-be.  It may be of the kids telling dad what they love about him, a montage of video clips from home videos taken throughout the year, or something else you and the little ones come up with.  Dad can re-watch these year after year.

9.  Make Dad king for a day

Come up with ways to pamper dad all day long.  Maybe your kids make him a special “king for a day crown” and explain to him how being king for the day works—maybe he gets to sleep in, get extra snuggles, have a chore-free day, get to pick the activity, make up his own “rule” for the day, or whatever else the king desires on his special day.

10.  Make a father’s survival box or treasure box

This can be a silly homemade gift for dads-to-be or fathers of little ones.  Take any box (like a shoebox or smaller) and decorate—if kids are old enough they can decorate it with paper, magazine clippings, markers, glued-on decorations, etc.  You can select or let the kids add little tokens, drawings, toys, or anything special for dad.  These can either be funny or sentimental (i.e. representing something you appreciate about dad).  Either mom or kids can write an explanation of what each item represents.  Here are some fun ideas:

marbles

  • Paper heart (to remind you how much you are loved)
  • Marbles (to replace the ones you’ve lost)
  • A penny (to give you a “cents” of how valued you are)
  • Rope (in case you are at the end of yours)
  • Paper clip (to help you hold it together)
  • Rubber band (to remind you about or honor your flexibility)
  • Super glue (to help keep your eyes open after sleepless nights)

What ideas or special things do you do to celebrate Father’s Day?  Please feel free to comment below!

Did you know?

Father’s Day was an idea born, ironically, during a Mother’s Day sermon in 1909.  After hearing a minister extolling the virtues of motherhood, Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Washington decided her father—a farmer, Civil War veteran, and widowed dad to six kids—deserved a day of honor too.  In 1910, she declared the first Father’s Day in Spokane on her dad’s birthday: June 19. Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge supported the making of an official Father’s Day; and in 1966 Lyndon B Johnson proclaimed it a national holiday. But it wasn’t until 1972 that Nixon officially designated the third Sunday in June as Father’s Day.  Now, the holiday is celebrated around the world.