8 great ways to start dad and baby bonding

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Dad and baby - Dad and baby touching knuckles symbolising dad and baby bonding

Importance of dad

Dads play a crucial role in their baby’s development.

Studies have shown that babies who develop a strong bond with their dad, do better in almost every aspect of their future lives.

They do better at school, are more able to form secure friendships and relationships and feel more self confident and secure within themselves.

Dads who spend time with and play with their kids from the early days, boost their child’s physical and mental development significantly more than those whose dads don’t ‘join in’.

Hands-on fathers also suffer from less stress too. So Dad and baby bonding has great benefits for both of you. It’s a win-win!

Dads feel like they are playing catch up

Top Tip

Dad and baby bonding

Make baby bathtime Daddytime! Enjoy splashing about, baby massage and snuggling them up in a towel. It could be your own special time of day to spend with baby.

There’s no denying that mums get a head start when it comes to bonding with their baby.

They have carried them for nine months and become used to the feeling of them sleeping, waking and moving about in the womb.

Both mum and baby have also gone through the process of birth together.

As a newborn, your baby relies on mum’s breast milk for survival and so there’s a biological drive to look to mum for comfort. It’s no wonder that dads can feel a little left out.

So dads – how do you compete? Well, you don’t. Remember dad and baby bonding doesn’t always come instantly to fathers.

Some dads will feel an instant rush of love from the first moment they hold their newborn in their arms, while others will take a little more time to feel fully connected.

Either way there are plenty of things you can do to help this bond grow and flourish.

If as a new dad you are not feeling it yet, don’t panic.

Relationships take time to develop and – remember – mums have a nine-month head start.

Be patient, make time to spend with your baby and the bond will come.

Here are 8 great ways dad and baby can spend time together

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Dad and baby - Dad and newborn baby enjoying skin to skin dad and baby bonding time
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Skin-to-skin contact

Babies thrive on skin-to skin contact, also known as kangaroo care.

They love nothing more than being snuggled against your bare skin and feeling your heartbeat.

There’s even science to back up this claim. A 2007 study found that newborns who were immediately placed on a dad’s bare chest after a C-section delivery stopped crying, calmed down and were able to fall asleep more quickly than those that were placed directly in a cot.

Take time each day to cuddle your baby close to your bare chest.

It will feel as amazing for you as it does for your baby.

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Dad and baby - Dad rocking baby, smiling. Dad and baby bonding
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Rocking in daddy’s arms

Babies are used to rhythmic movements after being rocked in the womb.

This is why they will settle easily when they are swayed or rocked in their dad’s arms.

Whether you walk or bop your baby round the living room, or head out on special Daddy walks with the sling, you will feel closer to your newborn.

They in turn will feel safe and secure in Daddy’s arms.

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Dad and baby - dad reading book to baby and smiling. Dad and baby bonding
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Reading to baby

Your baby will probably already recognise Dad’s voice if you spoke to him in the womb. Continuing to chat to him will help you both bond.

It can feel a bit odd having a one-side conversation with your baby (especially as you get no banter back) but put your awkwardness aside and chat away.

Reading to your baby is a great way to get them used to your voice too.

At this age your baby won’t have a clue what you are reading. Whether you pick The Gruffallo or the sport’s pages of the newspaper it really doesn’t matter, they will love the sound of your voice.

As your baby gets older, bedtime stories can become a treasured dad and baby bonding time for you both.

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Dad and baby - Dad touching baby's hand with finger. Dad and baby bonding
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Singing to baby

Babies respond really well to music so another great way to bond is to sing to them.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a voice like Ed Sheeran as your baby really won’t care.

Whether you sing soft lullabies or your entire rendition of Bohemian Raphsody (with the instrumental bits too) there’s no doubt that your baby will love your efforts and you’ll share special moments together.

It’s a great way for dad and baby to bond.

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Dad and baby - Dad giving newborn baby a bath. Dad and baby bonding
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Make your own daddy-time

During those first few weeks it’s easy to feel as if you have to take a bit of a back seat when it comes to baby care, especially if your partner is breastfeeding.

But there’s a place for dad too. After feeds, be the one who takes your baby in your arms and burps, changes him and rocks him to sleep.

You will give your partner a break and also develop your own relationship.

There’s nothing more amazing than the feeling of a tiny baby relaxing and drifting off to sleep in your arms. So enjoy the contented snuggles.

Another idea is to make bath time Daddy time!

Often when it comes to the evening mums are worn out, so why not make bath time a special time for you both?

Babies love the warmth and comfort of a bath and there are loads of opportunities for physical contact to promote bonding too.

Whether it’s massaging baby lotion onto them after bath time or wrapping and snuggling your baby in a towel, these can be great dad and baby bonding moments.

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Dad and baby - Dad bottle feeding newborn baby. Dad and baby bonding
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Take on some of the feeds

Being with your baby as they feed is a close and intimate experience.

If your partner is exclusively breastfeeding you can stay close and be there to provide support during feeds and give strokes and cuddles afterwards.

Your partner may also choose to express milk or use baby formula, in which case you can take over some of these feeds with a bottle.

By having a turn at feeding your baby you can experience the peace and closeness of being there while he suckles contentedly in your arms.

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Dad and baby - Dad and baby making funny faces at each other
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Be silly

Whether it’s dancing your baby in your arms around the kitchen to your favourite tune, or playing peek-a boo with them (even when they are too young to figure out the game) being playful with your baby is a great way to bond.

Find your special dad-moments, be playful and have fun. As your baby gets older these times will get better and better.

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Dad and baby - Dad friends out in the park with babies
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Find your dad tribe

If you can find and meet other dads who have babies of a similar age it can be a life changer.

You can swap dad stories and relate to each other over all the trials and tribulations of being a new father.

It’s a little trickier for new dads to find their tribe (especially if you go back to work after paternity leave) but look out for dad and baby groups or meet-ups online and seek out other new dads in your community.

If your partner has made new mum friends, maybe organise family days out so that you can get to know their partners.

Dad get-togethers are not only good for you but for babies, who will enjoy the benefits of being around other babies.

Dads make a difference

It’s a unique relationship that has so many life changing benefits to both father and child.

So dads it’s worth putting in the time and effort with your baby from the very early days, to get you off to the best start together.

Hopefully you’ll find you’ll develop your own little routines along with a very special bond that can reap lifelong rewards for both of you. Dads – you’re amazing!

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