Bonding is a feeling of deep love and attachment that develops between parent and child. It makes you want to protect the child, shielding them from harm. It makes you want to shower them with all the love in the world. It also ensures you learn to read your child and understand their cues. It certainly helps when they are up for the fifth time in one night, crying for milk again!
The mother-baby connection is something that is taken for granted, especially for breastfed babies. After 9 months of listening to mummy’s heartbeat in her womb, then relying solely on mummy’s breasts for food, the bond between mother and child is unshakeable. There’s nothing else like it. But in this equation, where is dad? How is he to bond with baby?
A time-honoured piece of advice is to pump and let daddy bottle-feed. Indeed, many mothers rely on dad to be the hero at night, taking on midnight feeding duties, enabling mums to get some much needed rest. However, introducing bottles too early could negatively impact breastfeeding as it could cause nipple confusion.
So here are some other things daddy can do to bond with baby, without mummy feeling like she absolutely has to pump:
1. Skin to skin time
Get dad to spend some time cuddling baby with no shirt on, so baby can feel the warmth of his skin, learn his smell and hear his heartbeat. This can mimic the same security breastfeeding provides and dad can even take over directly after breastfeeding to burp the little one.
2. Get baby clean and dressed
There’s no reason why dads can’t take over bath or even diaper time. In fact, contributing in these day-to- day activities not only help dads bond but should also earn them some brownie points with mum!
3. Give baby a massage
Babies respond well to touch and a quick massage after a warm bath is a wonderful way to help baby relax. Massage also offers great benefits to baby’s health and development.
4. Sooth baby’s tears
It may be daunting to take on the task of soothing a wailing baby but give it a try, Dad! Snuggle her close, give her a pacifier, sing her a song, anything that comes to mind. My baby’s dad likes to show her the mirror- it works!
5. Wear your baby
It’s a common sight in Malaysian malls to see Dads wearing baby in a wrap or a structured carrier. It’s a great way to keep baby close, show her the sights while also giving mom a break.
6. Take baby outside
Got 20 minutes before dinner-time? Take baby out for a quick stroll around the neighbourhood! It’s a nice way to soak in some nature and get some fresh air but do make sure he’s got some insect repellant on to avoid nasty mosquito bites.
7. Read to baby
Babies love spoken language, and reading is a great way to help them pick up language skills. Reading to our little one helps send her off to dreamland in 15 minutes flat!
8. Take naps together
While many babies love breastfeeding to sleep, getting dad to take over naptime is also a good option and helps baby learn that there are many ways to fall asleep. We’re sure many dads will be OK with this as they get a good excuse to nap too!
9. Playtime is fun time
Dads are the best at making baby laugh, whether with silly faces or funny voices or weird body movements (aka dancing). Dangle a rattle or play simple peekaboo games; these are little things that can keep baby busy and entertained.
10. Bring baby to the doctor
Attend doctors’ visits and stay up to date and educated on what’s happening with baby’s health and development. Dads are also handy to hold baby and sooth them during visits that involve dreaded jabs. Feeding time, while an essential bonding time, is only a small part of a baby’s day.
There are many things determined daddies can do to spend quality time with their little ones, and we’re sure you’ve tried many not listed above. Share them with us!