Helping New Dads Bond and Connect With Their Babiesby lori bregman
“Nothing I’ve ever done has given me more joys and rewards than being a father to my children.”
~ Bill Cosby
As a new mother, there is an undeniable intuitive knowing and connection between a mother and her child. Your baby is totally dependent on you and is comforted just by your energy, scent, heartbeat, and voice.
And as the mother, you are the most consistent and stable thing they have known for the past nine months. We produce food for our babies to thrive on, and breast feeding also deepens the connection and bonding experience between mother and child. They are helpless on their own without you.
I often hear many woman fearfully complain that their husband/partner isn’t bonding or connecting with their new baby. I have spoken with a lot of men about this, ones that were actively involved from the start and ones that weren’t.
Here are some of the things they said and what they wished would have happened:
1. There is nothing my baby needs from me. I will be more involved I can do things with them.
Tip for the ladies: Give Daddy a job. Let him feed your baby, or have him take the baby for a bit after you feed (so you can sleep). Make him feel needed, and thank him for helping you.
2. I try and help, but she won’t let me do anything. So I just gave up trying and let her do everything.
Tip for the ladies: Men love to be needed and if your partner is wanting to be involved, then by all means let him. This will only deepen their bond and connection. Another thing I always tell my clients to do is to find reasons to leave them alone with the baby: take a shower, get lunch with friends, hit the gym, run some errands, or whatever. The first time you leave your baby alone with your husband, you might panic. Make sure to breathe and reassure yourself and him that he can do this! This will let him know and feel that you trust him. If you trust him to help you out, you can free yourself up for Mommy-time.
3. Every time I try and help she tells me I am doing it wrong. I give up! It makes me not want to try anymore .
Tip for the ladies: Often in relationships, we are really good at pointing out what the other is doing wrong instead of focusing on what they are doing right. Same thing with parenting. Just like you are trying to find your way with your baby, you must allow your partner to find their own way too. They might do things that make you want to cringe and scream out, “Don't do it that way." Take a deep breath and wait to see if they figure it out on their own. If they are having a hard time, don’t grab the baby away from them! Instead, try giving them some positive reinforcement. Like if they are trying to burp the baby in a different manner than you would, try something like this. "Good job getting him to drink that whole bottle! It looks like he is having a hard time burping, something that I have found that works is..." Start with a compliment, and you will have their full attention when it comes to any kind of suggestion.
“Fathers, like mothers, are not born. Men grow into fathers and fathering is a very important stage in their development.”
~ David Gottesman