You’re a modern dad, right? You were there during the pregnancy appointments, through the delivery, and your’re even an expert at changing diapers. But the fact of the matter remains that moms typically still have the upper hand when it comes to bonding. After all, they’ve carried your little girl for 9 months and usually continue the day-to-day tasks that often promote bonding like breastfeeding, rocking, singing, and toting her around town.
But, don’t worry – there are plenty of ways for you to feel included in the bonding process. You may not realize it, but your daughter needs her daddy’s touch just as much as she needs her mother’s. While parents typically respond differently to their child’s needs, your daughter will delight in the difference! Check out these tips to get up close and personal.
Daddy Bonding 101:
- Go Gear Shopping. It’s easy to feel “left out” when your wife (or significant other) has been the one carrying the baby for 9 months, so get involved in the process early on. Go shopping for baby gear together. Get something that you think would be fun to use with the baby (ok, not tickets to a Red Sox game – at least not yet). Maybe a really cool stroller or jungle themed swing? If your wife disagrees with your choice remind her that you need to be included in decisions and you deserve that ultra cool sports themed baby jogger!
- Read to her In utero. Research shows that the more babies are exposed to their parents voices in the womb, the more they are to recognize their voices when they are born. So, read to the belly! You’ll probably feel ridiculous at first, but your wife or significant other will think it’s cute and so will your baby.
- Participate in the Labor and Delivery Process. Most dads today are much more involved in the birthing process than past generations. Participate as much as you feel comfortable (no, you don’t have to “look” at what’s going on down there during labor unless you’re into that sort of thing). Hold your little girl close when she’s born and talk to her. Just because you are not the one breastfeeding, doesn’t mean that you can’t have skin-to-skin contact.
- Feed Her. When moms breastfeed, dads often feel left out of process. It’s true that it may take a little longer to bond with dad since he doesn’t have the “goods” but that doesn’t mean that you can’t give her a bottle.
- Negotiate the Nightshift. So how many of you really want to get up in the middle of the night to feed the baby? Not many, hugh? It’s understandable, but a really good opportunity to have a little quiet bonding time with your baby. If you work, maybe you offer to take one feeding a night. Or, you could get up and walk the baby if she’s fussy at 3:00am. You’ll be surprised how much closeness you develop when your little girl’s beautiful eyes stare longingly up at you in the middle of the night!
- Change & Chat. Change those little diapers. Make funny faces and chat with her about it. Tell her all about your day and your job. Just hearing your voice will promote bonding and make her smile. Besides, you’ll have a captive audience to vent to about that unbearable boss of yours.
- Get Personal. Hold her up against your face and allow her to touch you. Babies can tell the difference in textures from a very young age. She’ll learn the difference between daddy’s touch and mommy’s very quickly…and she’ll enjoy both.