Often we equate feeding with bonding, but there are so many other ways that Dad's can bond and connect with their new baby. While Mum may be spending a lot of time feeding, here are some brilliant ways that you can connect with your newborn.
- Sing, read or talk to your baby in the womb – research has shown that babies can begin to respond to voices or noise from around 26 weeks of pregnancy. This is a great way to connect with your baby, and your voice will be something that comforts them once they are born too.
- Hold your baby skin to skin – skin to skin isn’t just for mums, there are many benefits for Dad’s too. When your baby is skin to skin against your chest (with no blankets or clothes between you) the levels of the bonding hormone oxytocin increase in both your body and your baby. Research also shows that babies enter a deeper state of sleep and fall asleep quicker when they are skin to skin.
- Bath time – bath time can be a beautiful experience where you can connect with your baby. Many babies love being in the bath, and as a Dad it is a great way to bond. You can also take a bath with your baby – just ensure the water is warm not hot, and that you have someone to pass your baby to when getting in and out of the bath.
- Eye contact - hold your baby close so they can see your face while talking to them. This helps them to see and recognise your face, and to make eye contact. Smiling at your baby is also great for their development.
- Babywearing – most babies love to be held, so wearing your baby in a structured carrier or stretchy wrap carrier can be a great way to bond, but also means your hands are free! There are many different types of carriers available, so make sure that it fits well, and you are using it safely.
- Taking baby for a walk – exercise and being outdoors is great for your mental health. Heading out for a short walk with your baby in the baby carrier or pram is a great way to spend time with your baby, and also gives mum a bit of a break. As your baby gets older they will often really enjoy being outside and the new sensory experiences that this brings.
Feeding is a full-time job for new mums, so doing whatever you can to help care for your baby means you can ‘share the load’. The best way to bond with your baby is just to spend time getting to know them – talking, playing, cuddling, and learning all about your little one!
Article written by PBC Expo Midwife Hannah