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Dads and Babies

In this guide:

  • What dads can do to promote bonding
  • Ways moms can nurture the daddy-baby bond

Overview

Today's dads are more involved in their children's lives than fathers from previous generations were - and that's great for the whole family! But it's not always easy for a dad to carve out a role in his baby's life. After all, watching Mom and baby exchange coos and smiles can be intimidating. How could he ever match that mother-child intimacy, or know what to do? The fact is, Dad and baby bond in their own way - and it's no less special or important than bonding with Mom. Here, ways for dads to forge a deeper connection with their babies.


What dads can do to bond with their babies

Dad with baby daughterKeep baby close. Wearing your baby in a sling-type carrier can often be a wonderful way to get close. Baby wearing can be especially helpful during the witching hour - the end of the day when kids of all ages are prone to fussiness and meltdowns. This is a time when a dad can really shine. He can wear his baby while Mom takes a nap or does something just for her.

Go on diaper duty. A baby will need thousands of diaper changes during the first few years, so make those hours count. Diaper changing is a good (okay, yucky, but good) way to bond, especially when you look directly into your baby's eyes and talk to her.

Take the night shift. When your baby wakes up at 3 a.m., Dad can give her a bottle (if you're breastfeeding, pump beforehand). Or, if your baby's still awake after nursing, ease her off your breast and into your husband's arms. Ask him to sing a soothing lullaby.

Horse around. Dads are more likely than moms to engage in physical play with their kids - and that's great (provided the baby is at least 6 months old). Going for a horsey ride on Dad's shoulders, for instance, can provide a fun perspective. Gently bouncing around up there is good exercise for her large muscles, too, and helps develop her sense of balance and coordination.

What moms can do to nurture the daddy-baby bond

Hang back. Letting your partner take over some of the regular baby duties is a good first step to helping the two of them connect. Just as important: Don't hover around him when he's with the baby. It may be tempting to rescue your child when he's fussy, but if you fall into this pattern, you'll likely erode your partner's self-confidence and your baby won't get used to being comforted by him. So give them the space to work it out on their own.

Don't criticize. It takes practice to learn how to care for and interact with a baby. So don't scold your partner for doing something that's just not your way.

Trust him. You may feel like Mommy knows best, but give your husband the chance and he may surprise you with solutions for burping your baby, keeping him entertained, and more. Focus on the giggles.

Summary

Dads and babies have their own ways of bonding. Your challenge: to foster their connection without being overbearing - and to resist the urge to step in anytime they hit a bumpy patch! In the long run, your efforts will pay off. A strong, early dad-baby bond lays the foundation for a lifetime of closeness.

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