The New Dad: Ways to Bond with Baby
Congratulations—you're a dad! New fathers, especially first-timers, may not yet feel sure in the role of Dad. To help you adjust to your new job—one of the most important of your life—celebrate fatherhood by finding your own ways to bond with Baby.
Bonding Around Breastfeeding
According to Hogan Hilling, author of The Man Who Would Be Dad, it’s important to understand the bonding process first. “It is not just something that happens,” he says. “You are building a relationship, and bonding will take time. Remember that your wife had a nine-month head start and a physiological advantage—she carried the baby.”
If Mom is breastfeeding, you may feel out of the feeding loop. But, according to Hilling, “although you can’t breastfeed, there are other ways you can help in the process.”
Ask your wife to wake you up in the middle of the night to help with the feeding of the baby. “You can bring the baby to Mom … rock the baby to sleep after the feeding. This is a great time to spend with the baby, because there are no distractions in the still of the night. It is just you and the baby,” says Hilling.
Hilling also suggests attending a breastfeeding class with your wife. “The more you understand what is involved in breastfeeding a child the more you can become involved in the whole process,” he says.
Call and talk with your wife’s lactation consultant, and be the middleman, says Hilling. “Keep her posted on the progress your wife is or isn’t making,” he says. “If your wife is having trouble breastfeeding, you may be able to provide some input that will help the lactation consultant resolve any breastfeeding challenges that Mom might be dealing with.”
Boast and Brag!
You’ve probably already passed around your baby’s photo to everyone at the office, and Hilling says that such activities in addition to talking about your baby are a good thing. “This is important for two main reasons,” he says. “It tells your employer and coworkers how important family is to you and what a proud dad you are.”
The second reason is so your employer knows how important it is for you to spend time with your baby. When you ask your boss for the afternoon or morning off to take your baby to doctor visits or other appointments, your boss will (hopefully!) understand.
Off to the Doctor We Go!
Speaking of doctor visits, consider taking your baby to the pediatrician alone—without Mom. “Let your wife know that you’d like to have this time alone with the baby,” says Hilling. A mom may not recognize or be aware of how much time she spends with the baby and how little time and opportunities a dad has to be with the baby. “Assure her that it is OK to relinquish the baby in your care and that you can be trusted,” he says.
Step Up for the Simpler Tasks
It’s the simple things that may be the sweetest ways to spend time with your little one: changing diapers, bathing, feeding, taking walks, singing. “Each second, minute you spend with the baby will help strengthen your bond with the baby,” says Hilling. “However, how to bond and spend time with the baby is not the real issue. It’s about making the time.”
Don’t Forget Mom!
While you’re taking time to bond with your new little bundle of joy, don’t forget about your wife! Here are some tips from Hilling on connecting with your wife throughout pregnancy and beyond:
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