Tips for the father to bond with baby
The father child connection is one of the most important and significant processes that contribute immensely to the emotional, mental and psychological growth of the baby, and also the father. As its relatively easy for the mother to be connected with the child because of the innate natural bond that already exists between them, its more likely that the father to be or the father feels isolated or left out. He has to take the initiative to reach out and voluntarily engage in the process of connecting with his child, and fostering a bond which can last a lifetime. Whether they deserve it or not, new dads can get a bad press for failing to be "hands-on" with their new son or daughter. But now a growing body of research suggests that the sooner fathers starting bonding with their baby, the brighter the future for the whole family. Dads who play with their kids from day one not only boost their child's physical and mental development significantly more than those who don't "join in", but hands-on fathers also suffer from less stress. "Fathers can attune to their babies, to become familiar with them, their likes and dislikes, and therefore increase their confidence with the baby," insists Helen Hans, a postnatal leader with the UK's National Childcare Trust.
recently, researchers at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada and the Bar-Itan University in Israel have found that men experience a surge in "bonding" hormones around the time their children are born. The Canadian studies suggest that even during their wives' pregnancies, men experience a shift in their levels of stress hormone, cortisol, as well as prolactin, a hormone linked to parenting behaviour. This is backed up by the data from Israel which also shows a rise in oxytocin, a chemical that can dilute a man's alpha-male attitude and engender a more nurturing nature. In short, it's an evolutionary response to turn lads into dads. However, those hormone levels have in time been found to return to pre-pregnancy levels in men. And so, once the initial elation of becoming a father is over, many dads can tend to take a back seat in parenting. Experts such as Hans suggest that by maintaining a hands-on involvement with their children through the toddling years, fathers can strike up a relationship that will help them and their children combat issues later in life such as depression.
"Fathers play a hugely important role in the mental health of their children much later in life," explains Melanie Mallers, a professor in psychology at the California State University. "They have a unique style of interacting with their children and men who report having had a good relationship with their father during childhood were found to be better at dealing with stress." Men are more "rough and tumble" with their toddlers and children, and encourage more risk-taking behaviour. "They also use a very different vocabulary with their children, often using complicated words where mothers tend to adjust their language down. This helps to broaden the child's vocabulary," adds Hans. "Babies who have benefited from paternal interactions from an early age get on better with their peers," "They're academically more successful, stay in school longer, use drugs and alcohol less frequently and are less likely to get involved with crime. They may also be better equipped socially and psychologically than infants who receive very little attention from their fathers."
So why don't more dads bond with their babies? Unfortunately, some are simply inclined to take an "it's cute - but what does it do?" attitude to their children when they're at such an early stage in their development. For many other men, work pressures or time constraints mean they just don't get the same opportunities to interact with their new son or daughter. "At first sight, it may appear to fathers that there is little interaction possible with a newborn baby," explains Hans. "But by being attentive to the small details and nuances, dads can get a lot of satisfaction and benefit from communicating and caring for the baby." Time spent with the baby in the early weeks and months should provide a positive foundation for the developing relationship as the child grows, making fatherhood more rewarding and enjoyable.
Here are some incredible ways to get close to and bond with your child
- get up, close and personal:- Baby is happiest when connecting skin-to-skin with mom or dad. His temperature, heart and breathing rates will be more consistent, and his blood sugar more stable. It also allows baby to get familiar with your scent and your heartbeat becomes a soothing beat for the little one. Spend time bonding, lounge around in your boxers and let baby rest on your chest while you're watching TV (just be sure it's not the playoffs—you don't want to startle the baby!).
- special play time:- Make silly faces, play peek-a-boo and sing songs for baby. Set aside regular time for baby, whether it's after work or in the morning. Appoint a special time that's just for you and the little one, so as baby grows, this special bonding time becomes part of the daily routine.
- Take responsibility:-. Mom may like things done a certain way and may even school you on how to handle certain tasks when it comes to baby, like how to warm a bottle, change a diaper or comfort baby. But you'll develop your own way of doing these things. Rather than let mom step in and "correct you" and show you repeatedly how to do it her way, just keep practicing, and you'll learn your own technique and shortcuts for newborn care. Communicating that you're fine with handling baby and taking the initiative without having to be asked is always great too. Plus, it gives you more one-on-one time with baby.
- taking the initiative:- Mom will have a list of things that need to get done and feel overwhelmed at the thought of trying to get through the list. Ask her to delegate some of those tasks to you so you can complete them. When you're able to satisfy her needs and help reduce her stress load by checking off some of her to-do-list, she'll be thrilled—and when mom is happy, everyone is happy. This also satisfies your desire to feel needed, because believe me, although she may be madly in love with a new man who's 7 pounds 11 ounces and 20 inches long, she needs and wants you around.
- Keep it movin'. Babies are used to movement because mom's hips were always moving when they were still in the womb. They feel soothed by movement and grow to have fun with it as well. Whether you're doing baby bench presses with your infant or daddy dance party, getting baby to giggle while you're moving him around is great. Movement also helps increase baby's muscle tone and trains baby's proprioceptors (aka his sense of self in relation to space).
- Find a dad posse. Find other cool dads who share a similar philosophy, have kids the same age or just provide a listening ear. You may just need to bond with other men who are going through what you are. Having a sense of community and knowing you're not alone is key. Being a new father can be an isolating experience—but certainly doesn't have to be.