Top tips for dads in baby-bonding

A dad is a son’s first hero, and a daughter’s first love. The bond between a dad and his children is very unique, and is just as important as the bond between mother and child. Yet it usually takes dads a little longer to bond with their kids, as they don’t get the physical nine month head start mothers do. But as soon as you become a dad, it can be quite daunting, as all the gibberish that your partner was talking about for the past nine months becomes an instant reality.

But there is no reason to be intimidated, feeling that a hectic day in the office is a breeze compared to a day at home. But the real reality is the fact that although you have never held a baby in your arms before, or had such disruptive sleep, your vocal bundle of joy will really only cry when they are hungry, are uncomfortable or are in need of a little love.  And love is the starting point to building an amazing bond with your child. According to Cuddlers Nappies Digital Midwife Representative, Xoli Makabane, here are some of the best ways for a dad to build, strengthen and solidify his relationship with his child.

Start bonding early

According to Makabane, you shouldn’t wait until your baby is born to start getting involved. “One of the best ways to start bonding with your child is to start talking to your baby while he/she is still in your partner’s womb,” she remarks. Studies have shown that if you speak to your baby before birth, that your newborn will recognise your voice. So whether you enjoy reading comic books, reciting the latest stats from the stock exchange or even your book on your favourite sporting hero there is always a great way for you to start.
“But apart from talking to your unborn child there are many other ways for you to start to connect,” she continues. Provide your input with the nursery, and setting it up, and assist with choosing baby names. “All these activities may seem very small but they have a huge impact on starting your relationship with your child,” she concludes.

Participate in the birth

“Nothing is more special than being there for the birth of your child, and it is the true ‘kick-start’ to your relationship with them,” remarks Makabane. “The initial hour after birth is so critical in a child’s life and skin-to-skin contact is essential.” After the birth of your child your partner will receive a lot of attention from medical staff so allow your little one to have skin-on-skin contact with you, don’t worry they will be cleaned up and no longer “slimy” by this stage. “Nothing is more comforting for a newborn than hearing their parent’s heartbeat, and being held close. There is nothing that can bond you more than those precious first hours.”

Try out some baby massage

“Massaging your baby not only helps stimulate the baby, but is a good bonding time,” comments Makabane. Massage has proven to be invaluable in helping babies to digest, relieve colic, easing tension and assist in spurring on growth. “An attending midwife or licensed massage therapist can show both partners some helpful hints regarding infant massage, and which oils and lotions are safe to use on a baby's delicate skin.”

Communicate and connect with your baby

Try and help out with changing your baby’s nappy. We know that most of the time you pretend to have an urgent call or important sports match to attend to in order to avoid the “mess”. But if you are able to brave the deed, you will realise that it actually isn’t that daunting, in fact you are in the perfect position to talk and connect with your little one, as you lean over you are able to engage in eye contact and communication. “Nappy changing offers the ideal opportunity for you to learn your baby’s signals and cues, what tickles her, how their little body moves. Paying attention during this time is key as you will easily determine if there are any changes or reactions that may need attention,” comments Makabane.

Have your own special routine

Today's reality is that on the whole, dads are far more involved in the daily routines of their children’s lives than they ever were before. “They are involved because they want to be, even if they need a boost of confidence and a little guidance in the beginning,” remarks Makabane. “Not only is it important for building relationships with the little ones but it helps with giving the partner a little time out either to focus on herself or on another task that needs fulfilling.” Keeping this in mind; start your own special routine - from doing bath time at night, or eating breakfast together every morning or even just once a week.

“Some other great ideas would be for you to read a story every night, going for a jog with your little one in a pram, washing the car when the kids are older and making sure that there is lots of foam to play with. Looking at fancy cars, or even driving to buy the newspaper on a Sunday and reading it together, the opportunities are endless!

Whatever you do make sure you are consistent about it.” What is very important to note is the difference between quality and quantity time. “Try and make sure you have quality time with your children, where you actually interact with them. But to have quality time, there has to be a relationship of trust and love, which takes time to build, so don't neglect the quantity part of the equation.”

If you incorporate one or some of these tips you will most certainly develop an unbreakable bond. Just remember that dads always need to have fun with their little ones. Use your special time with them to interact and bond, to make sure that you are your son’s first hero and your daughter’s first love.

How did you bond with your little one?

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