Dads and Partners Bonding with Newborn
Sometimes the first few weeks or months can be difficult for partners. With one parent providing the food for those breastfeeding, and one parent not, babies can be in a mommy or no-mommy stage. Male partners, in particular, may find it harder to bond with newborns because they are not able to breastfeed. Female partners may be able to induce lactation, but that is still a very challenging commitment that may not be possible for medical and/or professional reasons.
With newborns very much preferring the parent that birthed them, the challenges are felt by both parents. First, the person who just gave birth may need 5 minutes to shower, or even take a short nap, but can feel guilty leaving the baby even for a few minutes. It can be challenging for the partner as well, as they are watching the other parent do most of the work, while recovering from pregnancy and birth, while also not getting in the same bonding.
Furthermore, many partners are not able to take parental leave. Some area businesses are catching up with paternal and parental leave, but some are still very behind. A week or two of paid time off can be nice, but that is a very short amount of time. Many parents are facing non-paid leave, which can be very challenging on the bank account. Then, when they go back to work, the days are long, and sometimes back at home, the nights are longer. Between work and helping run the household, bonding with a newborn can be challenge.
Here Are a Few of Our Favorite Tips to Help Facilitate That Bonding Between Newborns and Dads or Partners
Skin To Skin
Just as after you gave birth, skin to skin was important for baby’s health and to start the bonding process, skin to skin with the other parent once back at home is just as valuable!
Watch some TV, and do a little skin to skin.
A great way to do skin to skin, or just be clothes while also being productive at home or in public.
Whether they get in tub with the baby or not, bath time is a fun way to bond while also participating in nightly rituals. Bonus: lots of skin to skin time!
Giving a Bottle of Expressed Milk or Formula
Feeding is such a huge part of a newborns day, so partner giving a bottle of expressed milk or formula is a great way to get involved in that process. Added bonus: if you are breastfeeding, it may allow the nursing parent a few extra hours of sleep!
Whether you read a book, or just tell a funny story, sitting with your baby and talking to him or her is a great way for either parent to bond.
Making Diaper Changes Fun
While it may stink (pun intended) to always be the one stuck on diaper duty, making it fun can help! Sing, dance, even do some fun movements with baby’s arms and legs can make the process a bit more enjoyable.
Sometimes babies may nurse, but not actually be hungry. This is a great time for the other parent to swoop in and soothe the baby. How this looks varies from parent to parent and baby to baby. My Grandfather was the master at soothing babies by providing what he called “altitude”, which basically was holding the baby up higher as he was 6’3”. My husband invented the Dad swing where he would rock our son to sleep.
Encourage your partner to learn the babies cues, and try a few different holds. Maybe patting, rocking, bouncing, dancing, walking, or some combination is the right fit for parent and baby. And they can patent the name and technique to pass on for generations.
P.S. Altitude works! Thanks PapPap!
Emily, our massage therapist and infant massage instructor, can come to your home for a private infant massage class. During this time, we encourage both caregivers, and even grandparents, nannies, and siblings, to be home so they can learn the infant specific strokes so everyone can get in on the fun.
And Lastly, Wing It
It may feel awkward for your partner to take control when you have been the one in charge mostly. But this is his or her baby as well! Let them figure it out, and see what works. They will be amazing, just sometimes they need some encouragement to take that first step!