Are you looking for ways for Dad to bond with baby?
I’m blessed to have an amazing dad who was always there for me – and who I know WILL always be there for me. And I’m so grateful that my husband is a dad who wants to be involved with our children and puts making time to bond with them at the top of his list of priorities.
Just this one thing gives me so much peace about raising babies in this uncertain world. I believe the lack of a good bond with daddy contributes to a BUNCH of our problems as a society. I really do! We might joke about “daddy issues”… but we shouldn’t.
We should be taking steps to make SURE our children bond with daddy right from the get go.
Perhaps you’re a first time dad wondering how on earth you’re going to bond with your new little one. Maybe you’re a more experienced dad who wants to bond with a breastfeeding baby. Or maybe you’re a nursing mama who wants to let daddy have some bonding time, too.
(THIS POST PROBABLY CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. OUR FULL DISCLOSURE POLICY IS REALLY BORING, BUT YOU CAN FIND IT HERE.)
While I’m not an “attachment parenting” parent, I AM a big believer in being a very present and attentive parent. I think a healthy relationship with mommy or daddy starts at birth, and that parents need to be INTENTIONAL about this relationship from day one. We aren’t going to get it perfect, but a little effort can go a long way.
We know bonding is important and that attachment to mommy and daddy as a newborn paves the way for healthy relationships later on in life.
Unfortunately, dads don’t have the same automatic built in opportunity to connect with a breastfeeding baby as mom does.
Sometimes it can seem daunting for dads, but it really doesn’t need to be.
It’s the most natural thing in the world for a baby to nurse and bond with mom, and it’s the most natural thing in the world for her to connect with daddy too!
Meaningful Ways for Dad to Bond with Baby
If you’re looking for ways for dad to bond with baby, the first thing to consider is how attachment works. Without getting into all the science of it, the simple solution is time, intentional effort, and using baby’s five senses.
For daddy, this means:
- talk to your baby so she hears you
- touch your baby so she feels you
- let your baby know your scent by holding her close
- and get close to her so she can see you
If mama is nursing exclusively, taste isn’t possible, but if she’ll take an expressed bottle of mama’s milk, then you can even try feeding her.
Here are some simple yet meaningful ways for dad to bond with baby, but feel free to add your own!
Talk to the Bump
One of the first ways for dad to bond with baby is to talk to mama’s baby bump. When that happens throughout the pregnancy, it’s amazing to see how a newborn will turn toward dad’s voice after delivery.
Consider rubbing mama’s belly (bet she wouldn’t say no to a massage with some cocoa butter – it helps with stretchmarks and that late term itchiness) and having a conversation with mom. Of course, get in the habit of talking directly to your little one too, but this can be an awesome way to connect for you and the woman you love before there’s always a little baby in the mix. (Like really, always. The baby will always be there after this.)
While the two of you bond with one another, you’ll also be bonding with baby because itty bitty human will be hearing your voice and getting used to it. And it’s going to be amazing to already have that connection established when they are born.
Skin to Skin Contact
Mama and baby get to connect when they nurse skin to skin, and daddy can have the same experience – to bond with a breastfed baby – only WITHOUT sore boobs. It’s almost unfair.
Once your newborn has arrived, be sure to get plenty of skin to skin contact by stripping off your shirt and snuggling together. This is one of my hubby’s favorite ways to make an excuse for a nap, and I love the fact that I get a solid half hour to myself.
Curl up together and cuddle skin to skin while Mama gets in a shower or a nap or a chapter out of a good book. Maybe rock her while she naps one afternoon or even lay her on your chest while you watch some sports.
Skin to skin stimulates all kinds of natural responses in both of you that cement bonding. And start right there in the hospital when she’s born; as soon as mama is ready to hand her over to you, consider settling her right on your chest.
Bathing is a key bonding time for babies and parents, so be sure to be an active part.
Some dads take their wee ones right into a warm shower with them or sit in the tub with them. Others give them a bath in a baby tub with a sling like this or right in the kitchen sink.
This is such a sweet way to grow closer to your little one for her to learn to trust you and enjoy your touch. And when bath time is over? Dry her off and give her a little massage.
Use some natural baby oil and gently rub her arms, legs, back, belly, head, and feet with it. Talk to her in a calm, soothing voice and make it a super sweet bonding time for you both.
Lots and lots and lots of snuggles.
Your affection will help your baby feel secure with you; she will learn that you love her and comfort her and keep her safe.
Get your face nice and close to hers. This is one of the most important ways for Dad to bond with baby once she’s entered the world, becuase she can’t see very far. Hold her up on your chest or lean down and kiss her sweet little nose.
When she’s older, you will have already established connection and affection. And that’s so important.
But for right now? You’ll have one happy baby who knows her daddy loves her!
Plus, you’re equipping her for future success (how cool is that?!).
There are entire scientific studies that show physical affection (i.e. hugs) help a baby’s brain develop well and lead to more intelligent children and adults.
Related: The Science of Hugs
It’s never too early to start reading to your little one (not just for bonding, but it’s great for developing language as well. Children who are read to often talk earlier and have an easier time with language). Books like Goodnight Moon, Runaway Bunny, and Guess How Much I Love You are awesome baby books that have a sweet message, too.
Start holding her and reading to her when she’s too young to know what you’re saying, because your touch and your voice wll tell her all she needs to know for now.
Reading aloud is one of the most awesome and longest lasting ways for dad to bond with baby because it starts a tradition that can let all the way through their childhood years. This is one they’ll never outgrow!
As they get older you can move up to Dr. Seuss classics, adventures such as The Indian in the Cupboard, and eventually The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Related: Read Aloud Revival
But the most important way for dad to bond with baby is to be authentically DAD.
Daddy, you are the perfect dad for this little bundle of joy! (Know how I can tell? Either you found this on your own to read, or you didn’t just roll your eyes when your wife brought you the phone. You read it., you care about bonding with your baby. That’s the MOST IMPORTANT THING!) As you hold her and talk to her, snuggle her and tickle her, read to her and play with with her, you will be connecting and forging a bond that will last decades.
You’re going to play hide and seek with her and chase her in games of tag, teach her how to ride a bicycle, and meet her first crush one day. This is only the beginning of a beautiful journey together.
But for now? Just take it one day at a time and be yourself. She’s going to love whoever you are, because you’re going to be there. And being there is the most important way for dad to bond with baby…and toddler…and child…and teen.