Congratulations on your new addition, Dad! Now that you are home from the hospital, you may find these first few months with your baby are full of sleepless nights, diaper changes and hush-hushing your baby. You are trying to define your role as a father, and that role will change and grow as your new baby does. If your partner is breastfeeding your child, you might feel a bit left out from the baby bonding. After all, your partner is getting more snuggling time, and your baby might seem closer to her than to you. While it might be different bonding with your breastfed newborn, it does not have to be harder. Here are a few tips to get your relationship with your little one headed in the right direction:
Give Mama a break
Your partner needs a break, whether she realizes it or not. If Mom's milk supply is quite established, she might feel comfortable pumping milk into a bottle so you can feed Baby while she takes a nap. But if she prefers to stick with breastfeeding only, wait until she finishes nursing and then offer to spend quality time with your newborn while she runs to the store for some mindless browsing and a coffee. Even if your baby sleeps the whole time, you can still bond by just spending some alone time together.
Wear the baby
Slings and wraps aren't just for Mamas. Don't be intimidated by all the straps and latches. Pull out the instructions or check out YouTube for videos on how to safely maneuver your sling or wrap. After some practice, you'll be a pro before you know it. Your baby will love the close contact with you, and you will love that you can bond and still have two hands free to play video games or check emails.
Talk, talk, talk
While it might feel a bit silly to talk to a baby at first, it is crucial for bonding. You don't have to talk "baby talk." Your goal is just to have your baby learn your voice and know you are near. You can talk about sports teams or about your day. You can chat while giving baths, while Baby is nursing or while you're wearing Baby in the sling. Your baby is a captive audience who loves hearing your voice. You'll find that the more you chat with your newborn, the more you'll feel bonded.
Wake up early
On the weekends, consider getting up early with Baby and letting Mom sleep in. You'll win major Daddy points! Plus, it gives you some extra time to hold and chat with your newborn. My husband loves his memories of early morning weekends with our son when he was a newborn. He drank coffee and held the baby while he enjoyed the lazy pace of waking up slowly.
Find something that is all yours
Find a part in your newborn's routine that is reserved for Daddy. Maybe it is a neighborhood walk when you return home from work, maybe it's bathtime or maybe you like singing and reading for a few minutes with Baby before you leave for work. Have fun with it. Dads don't always do exactly what moms would do, and that's great. Your child needs special time with you from the very beginning. Your Daddy time can become a tradition that you share for years down the road.