Q&A Thursday: How do I bond with my baby as a new dad?

Men who invest time in bonding with an infant will find it easier to maintain and enhance that feeling as your child grows and matures.  

Here are some ideas for bonding . . . 

1. Dads, can’t remember the last time you used your gym membership?  Consider using your new gift for strength training while experiencing the added benefit of bonding and connection. 

Try the Baby Bench Press, Tot Squats or Lullaby Lunges

2.  New dad bonding exercises:

Take a bath together.  Feel nervous about handling a slippery newborn in the sink with a hand held sprayer, baby shampoo, washcloth and baby tub?  Consider drawing a warm bath, place your newborn on your lap and use the time as a rich bonding experience. 

Play Kangaroo.  Place your newborn in a Snugli or other carrier and wear them around as you go about your Saturday morning or Sunday afternoon ritual.  Babies love the close contact and stimulation that comes from being in that space.

Read aloud.  Read children’s books, the sports page, or your morning devotional aloud.  Change your inflection, pace and tone.  Your infant will enjoy the familiarity of your voice.  

3.  New dads often report finding it difficult to bond with their newborn.  It’s not uncommon for new dads to report feeling less connected and operating on the outside of the strong mother/child bond.  Infant massage can be a useful tool for supporting the bond between father and newborn while furthering an infant’s development.  Babies need to be touched and held as much as they need to eat and sleep. Soothing touch nourishes your little one’s emotional development alongside strengthening his/her sensory awareness.  Infant massage involves appealing to many of a newborn’s senses –sight, smell, sound, and touch.  

Infant massage can also help relieve colic, support digestion, and ease tension.  Your pediatrician, midwife, or pediatric nurse can coach you on infant massage techniques, as well as what lotions or oils are safe to use with your baby’s delicate skin.  Some hospitals offer a short course on infant massage that can be taken post-delivery.  

Consider adding soothing light and music, with a warm room to the infant massage experience.  This can be a rich, bonding time for the new dad and the newborn.