For some, bonding with a newborn baby can be pretty overwhelming for first-time dads and unlike a majority of mothers, it may not come naturally.
Unlike many years ago, the current generation of dads have a willingness to be hands-on with their children but in some cases, when babies are so small, they are not sure how to bond or form an attachment early on.
Bonding is a process, a relationship that grows over time and today we are sharing our top tips on ways that dads can connect with a newborn baby.
What are the best ways to bond with a newborn baby?
- Simply jump right in, practice skin-to-skin as often as possible. In the first few weeks, touch is one of your baby's most important senses so get comfy on the sofa and gently cuddle your new little squish.
- Get involved with anything involving physical contact, like bottle feeding, nappy changing and dressing your baby. Not only will it help to form a bond in the early days, but it will also allow mum to catch up on some much-needed rest.
- Keep baby close. Carry your infant close to your chest in a sling or baby carrier when tackling household chores, out on walks and when you're running errands. Baby-wearing promotes infant attachment and helps them feel comfortable, safe and secure.
- Communicate with your baby. It might seem silly at first but your baby already knows who you are and the sound of your voice can be both soothing and stimulating. Sing, talk and read aloud to your baby at every opportunity.
- Try a baby massage. Learning to massage your baby is really simple and can be a fun relaxing experience for you both. Massage stimulates the hormone of love and has been proven to help babies fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly. It can also help alleviate symptoms of infant colic and reflux. So find a warm cosy spot in the house and start practising today.
- And finally, take paternity leave. One of the biggest hurdles new fathers face is trying to find the time. As of September 2016, in Ireland, new fathers receive two weeks of paid paternity leave in one continuous block which must be used up within 26 weeks following the birth or adoption of a child. Paternity Leave is paid at a minimum of €245 per week, based on the same PRSI contribution as required for Maternity Leave.
But what if my partner is breastfeeding?
You may think there's not much you can do but really, there is. Firstly, arm yourself with information on breastfeeding and be supportive of the mother of your child. Breastfeeding is a skill that needs to be mastered and mum will need all the love, support and encouragement, especially in the early days. Be available to wind baby after feeds, gently cradle your baby to sleep before bedtime and be present during feeds and let your baby know you are around.