The bond between a mother and baby is much talked about. Everyone knows it is a pure, natural relationship and the bond is bound to be there. But what about fathers? In this intense focus on mother and baby at the newborn stage, many times the father feels left out and feeling inadequate. While they want to contribute to parenting, they don’t know how to. Very soon it becomes accepted that the mother is the focal point in the child’s life and the father doesn’t have much of role initially. This can also lead to friction between the parents. But it doesn’t have to be this way. A strong father baby relationship not only keeps the couple from drifting away but also eases the mother’s burden. The child grows up to see both parents contributing to bringing him up. It leaves a positive family image on him.
Are there ways to build a father baby bond right from the beginning? Sure, there are many ways! Read on:
Become a Team: Even before the baby arrives, to be parents should work as a team. Attend birth classes with your wife, accompany her to prenatal checkups, research together on baby names and baby products. Basically make all baby-related decisions together.
Set of Responsibilities: Once the baby arrives, ensure that dad has his set of responsibilities. While mothers breastfeed, dads could be responsible for soothing, diaper changing or making the baby sleep. Make all parenting decisions together.
Be Non-judgemental: For dad to succeed in building a bond, it is important to give him the space to do things his way. So mothers (and in fact every family member around), stop presuming that parenting comes more naturally to you than him. Resist the need to correct him at every step. It’s ok if he makes a few mistakes. He will enjoy the journey of fatherhood only when he doesn’t feel judged for every action regarding the baby.
Help with the Feeds: If the baby is bottle-fed, then the father can take on the bottle feeding role while mom can rest. If the baby is exclusively breastfed, then the father can take care of burping the baby after nursing, rocking the baby to sleep etc.
Babywearing: Wearing your baby promotes parent-baby attachment. The feeling of closeness is important for a baby’s development. So get a good quality sling and carry your baby close to your heart, while enjoying a relaxed evening out with your wife.
Talk/Sing to the baby: The more the baby hears your voice, the more she gets comfortable in your presence. So, while you rock the baby to sleep, or carry her around, talk to her about silly things, sing a song or just babble!
Establish a Routine: Just as a mom has a routine with the baby, let dad have a system of this own. It could be spending an hour every day after coming back from work, or taking the baby for an evening walk, or putting the baby to sleep. Anything that will set a pattern between them. The baby will automatically look forward to daddy time as per the set pattern.
Paternity Leave: In India, paternity leave is not as prevalent as in the west. However, some corporates do allow for extended paternity leave. Avail one if possible. Use that time to bond with the baby.
Here’s wishing all dads out there a happy parenting journey!
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