Being a new or expectant father is an awesome feeling, emotions come rushing in, but sometimes you may feel a little out of the circle. It can be normal to feel this way for new Dads, but there are things you can do to bond as well.
Sure mom is carrying or has carried the baby for months, and now she may be breastfeeding, and that’s okay, she has a special bond, but Dads I am telling you, you can create that bond too.
I believe you can start the bonding process as soon as you find out your significant other is pregnant (to an extent), but I do understand some dads don’t feel that way until after the baby is born. The good news is that even if we can’t have the same bonding experience during pregnancy, we can begin to make connections with the baby during pregnancy.
Sure we won’t have the same exact experience mom does, but if you start to create the connections ahead of time, it will make it that much easier to interact once the baby is here.
Bonding And Connecting With Your Unborn Child
Talk and Sing To The Baby Bump:
It has been proven that babies can hear outside of the womb right around 18 weeks (See this Article from the Mayo Clinic for more specific information). So, it’s good to get a jump start on allowing your unborn child to listen and hear your voice. When I would talk to our child, it was about anything; It could be the football game I was watching, singing a song like
DAD TIP: Like I said some dads might feel awkward doing this, and to be honest, I did too with our first child and didn’t do it as often as I probably should have at first, but after you do it one or two times it becomes natural. Also for those of you that travel record your voice and have mom play it back.
Go To The Dr. Appointments:
If you can take a few hours from work, schedule time to be at the baby appointments, you can learn a lot and as the process goes on it starts to feel more real. I used this time to ask the Dr. baby questions, as well as questions about moms health too.
Don’t Miss the Ultrasound:
I know everyone does not have the luxury to go to every doctor’s appointment, but you absolutely should be at the ultrasound. While mom has had the opportunity to most likely feel kicks, and notice the baby, this is your chance to see him or her. It is probably the most exciting unborn child experience you will have while waiting.
DAD TIP: If mom is far enough along (we did ours at 29 and 30 Weeks) get a 3D/4D ultrasound, it will blow your mind, and you can start to see the babies features. If you decide to do this, make sure you tell mom to drink lots of water. I couldn’t find our most recent sonogram, but here is a 3D from 2006, they are much better now.
Feel The Baby:
Go ahead and try to see if the baby will kick your hand. I saw it as a fun game, though I swear my kids kicked more when my hand was not on my wife’s belly then they did when it was. This is just another way to connect with the baby. It is pretty fun to watch as well; sometimes you will see a whole foot, its like crazy sci-fi stuff.
Talk And Read:
Pick up a book like We’re Pregnant, and read. If that’s not your thing talk to your friends and family members. The best thing you can do is learn everything you can about becoming a new father, and what to expect. Who better than those that have already done it.
This may or may not help with connecting with your unborn child, but it will help strengthen the parental bond between you and mom, and it’s going to help improve your relationship as well. Mom has a lot of changes coming her way, so you should be ready to help with that as well. Just by being there to support mom, you are supporting the baby. I promise you it all comes back full circle. For more tips on helping mom check out my post on New Dad Tips to Help Mom
What About After The Baby Is Born
This is really where us Dads can kick the bonding process into high gear. Sure mom has had us beat for the last 9 or so months, but now it’s our time, besides mom needs some rest as well, and this gives you that chance to bond. So, what should or can I do you might ask?
Continue Talking And Singing:
If you started singing and talking to your unborn child, keep doing that now that they are here, babies focus on sound and voices. It is good to keep them attentive to you.
DAD TIP: He or She does not care if you can sing or not; just the action alone helps them to identify daddy.
Skin to skin contact has been on the rise since we have had our four children. During the birth of my first and second child, it wasn’t even brought up, but during the delivery of the last two they encouraged my wife to have skin to skin contact directly after giving birth, and on the last baby they informed me to do it as well. The doctors told us that when you have skin to skin, it helps to control their body temperature, heartbeat, they learn to understand your scent (which they said was big for dads), and it helps them to feel safe
A study was performed in Stockholm to show in fact skin to skin contact is optimal for dad and baby. (See it here on WebMD).
DAD TIP: Honestly, I felt a little odd, but then I looked at my wife who just had her lady parts on display for four random people and her mom, and then decided it was cool.
Feed The Baby:
I’ve said it once, and I will repeat it, just because you’re not producing the milk doesn’t mean you can’t help. If your wife breastfeeds and pumps before sleep, that is your chance to wake up and feed the baby. That quiet time along with the baby holding him or her creates the one on one moments you can’t always get during the day, and if mom doesn’t breastfeed there really is no reason you can’t be apart of the nightly routine. It will also help mom get the sleep she needs.
DAD TIP: If mom does breastfeeding in the daytime you can assist by burping the baby, just another way to be involved.
Be Part Of The Schedule:
Speaking of routines getting into the daily baby schedule is an excellent way to ensure you are getting that me time with your newborn. Even if it’s just a bath, or changing them into Pajamas, even changing the dreaded diaper. While this may seem like its just a little task, it is a great way to grow your bond.
Get a Baby Carrier:
Yup, I said it, carry that baby as your life depends on it. No seriously, just like skin to skin having him or her near you help to increase their comfort with you. You scent becomes customary, and while you are carrying them around you can go about your daily activities as well ( Don’t get too crazy, no CrossFit). This Misson Critical one is pretty cool for dads.
Make Some Daddy Baby Alone Time:
Allow mom to rest, take the baby out for a walk around the neighborhood. Or, have mom run out to get her nails or hair done whatever she likes, but spend time with the baby alone.
Along with this, even if you aren’t alone, make sure you have play time, tickle the baby, give them raspberries (the ones on their stomach), fly them around the house in your arms, or rock them to sleep in your arms. All and any of these are good for dad and baby.
DAD TIP: Don’t try and break in on mommy and baby bonding time all the time either, make sure you have an open dialogue with your significant other, to ensure you are both getting the time needed and wanted with the baby.
Pick any or all of these things you feel comfortable with but be sure you make time for baby, to increase the bond you have while they grow, and don’t worry if the baby wants to be with mom most of the time, its okay there is nothing wrong with you, it may be a process. My fourth child wanted only my wife for the first 45-days; he is four now and follows me everywhere.
I hope you found this useful. Let me know if you have any questions or any techniques you used or use with your babies.