8 Tips to Help New Dads Bond with Baby

Making the most of the first days with a newborn

Dad and baby playing on the floor

Making the most of the first days with a newborn

New moms, in most cases, almost instantly become immersed in the day-to-day, minute-to-minute interactions. Diaper changes, feedings and even just soothing a crying baby can all help create a strong bond with a newborn. But often new dads who haven’t had a great deal of hands-on experience with tiny infants may feel unsure what to do at first when the new arrival comes home.

David Miller, MD, a family medicine physician at Scripps Clinic Rancho Bernardo, says “It doesn’t matter who you are — you can forge a personal bond with your baby from the start if you make structured efforts to connect.”

Bonding with your new baby

If you’re looking for ways to facilitate baby bonding, these tips can help build a strong connection with the newest member of your family.

1. Be an active part of the daily routine

Be an active part of all the parenting tasks — bathing, dressing and changing diapers. Try bringing a hungry baby to mom for feedings and then taking the baby back for burping.

2. Touch is key

During the first few weeks of life, the sensation of touch can bring you and your baby close. Place your baby against your chest, so he or she can feel the rhythm of your heartbeat. Stroke your baby's back or rock your little one gently in your arms.

3. Spend quality time alone with baby

Set aside time for just the two of you. “Little ones love the sound of deep voices,” says Dr. Miller, “so talk away. It doesn’t matter what you say — talk about last night’s sport scores or read the paper. Just use a soothing tone.” A little quality time can also give mom a break from infant care so she can rest.

4. Have a staring contest

Babies love to look at faces. Chances are the baby will probably outlast you.

5. Make silly faces

Let your inner silliness come out and play. Scrunch up your face, stick out your tongue or raise your eyebrows. Don’t be surprised when your tiny infant tries to do the same thing. As your baby gets older, these games will make a good platform for playing peekaboo.

6. Soothe a fussy baby

“Don’t worry if you can’t always soothe your baby,” says Dr. Miller. “Nurturing and calming a fussy baby, even if they continue to cry, can help strengthen the bond between you.”

Your baby may even find you more comforting at times because your larger hands can specialize in making a tight swaddle, and your knees can make a great place to gently vibrate or jiggle your little one. Singing, humming and walking around are other good tactics.

7. Have a dance party

It’s never too early to start teaching your baby how to dance. “Babies love music, and they love to rock out,” Dr. Miller says. Sway around the room to your own special music. Introduce your baby to the sounds you love, whether that is classical, swing, folk, alternative or pop.

8. Be part of the bedtime routine

Consistent care is important, especially during the first few months of your baby's life when they are developing trust. So, finish the day by being just as involved as you have been all day long.

Remember you also have a big say in the development of your baby's sleep habits. Sing harmony with mom, read “Goodnight Moon,” lower the lights, rock your baby before settling her in her crib.

Whatever your bedtime ritual, include structured one-on-one moments with the new addition to your family.

As long as you spend time with your baby, a parent-child bond will develop. Dr. Miller’s final advice is, “Be yourself and let it happen. Dads need to relax, be themselves and enjoy this special time.”

Keeping your baby safe and healthy

Both parents play a major role in keeping their children safe and healthy and that includes protecting against vaccine-preventable diseases and baby-proofing the house.

Most parents follow the recommended vaccination schedule set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The schedule recommends when children and teens should receive each vaccine.

Do everything possible to stay on schedule when it comes to vaccinations for your child, which start early.

Make sure your home is a safe place for your newborn. Give yourself plenty of time to baby proof your home. Don’t be surprised if you have to it more than once because your baby will begin crawling and exploring before you know it.

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