When it comes to newborns, there’s real truth in the saying that ‘mom knows best.’ After all, you’ve already come to know that baby over the last nine months. At this stage, they are an extension of you, and you likely know every facial expression, cry, and (sorry to say it) bowel movement. This bond only becomes stronger still if you breastfeed, with your baby quite literally hunting you out in a room as their security, comfort, and best friend.
This is all well and good, and it’s an amazing way to help those happy mommy hormones along, but what about those new dads? They’ve been dreaming about this too, after all, and, while they didn’t carry the baby, they have spent nine months planning and looking forward. Sadly, as many dads find out the hard way, newborns aren’t often interested in the hopes of a new father. In fact, many will outright refuse to spend time alone with daddy, especially during those first three months.
That can be incredibly difficult for both parents. Sadly, while it is possible to make things slightly less stressful with shared bottle feeding, the chances are that baby will still default to mom.
If you’re stuck in this spiral right now, then rest easy that things do get better. In the meantime, dad could try to speed that bonding process in the following ways.
Skin-to-skin encourages the release of oxytocin, which is really what provides that gushy parental feeling. For your baby, too, this stress-reliever helps with crying fits, and may even result in the sleep that seems impossible otherwise.
Most notably, healthcare professionals recommend skin-to-skin for mom and baby as soon as possible after birth. This facilitates immediate bonds and even helps with breastfeeding. But, it may be even more important for dads to give skin-to-skin a go. That way, baby can get to know the smell and feel of them, all in a way that keeps them feeling safe and de-stressed.
Babies start to recognize voices in the womb from around week 25 or 26, and the voice that they hear the most is, of course, mom’s. This means they’ll already gravitate towards their mother after birth. Unfortunately, while babies do learn dad’s voice a little, it offers nowhere near the same level of comfort.
Hence why reading aloud is one of the best things a dad can do with a newborn. This is a vital habit in general, as it helps a great deal with development, even at this young age. What’s more, getting into reading now can be a fantastic precursor to future educational focuses like these fun letter sound correspondence games for older kids. More pressingly now, however, ensuring that dad does plenty of reading means that baby can also adjust to their voice. Perhaps start with dad doing the reading while baby lays in mom’s arms, and then slowly switch this so that dad holds the baby during storytime, and enjoys the closeness that this can offer.
There’s a real temptation to fall on mom every time baby needs soothing. After all, this is the quickest way to calm things down. Unfortunately, getting into this habit now makes it even less likely that anyone else will be able to calm your baby later, not least their dad.
By instead letting dad do at least some of the soothing early on, you can make a huge difference. Of course, you don’t want to let things escalate to the point where baby associates dad with bad things. But, if all their needs are taken care of and they’re just starting to cry, Moms might well benefit from holding back and letting dad do the rocking.
If all else fails, dad taking the baby out for a walk on this own is always a fantastic option. This gives mom a chance to catch up on sleep while also making a huge difference to dad and baby. After all, out in the world just the two of you, you go from being the ‘strange one’ to being the person this baby knows best. They should thus automatically turn to you if they get upset while you’re out. And, this can soon become the beginning of a long and loving relationship if you stick at it.
While moms certainly have the hardest time post-birth, these dad struggles can still be increasingly tough as you feel not only helpless but also increasingly distant. Don’t let that be the case by focusing on bonding with these key pointers in mind.
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