Bonding with your baby: Dads Edition

We spend a lot of time talking about what to expect during pregnancy and postpartum as the person giving birth, but what about as partners? Often, the non-birthing person, and dads in particular, may feel as though they are unable to contribute and really bond with the baby. But while your bond will likely look a little different, there are definitely things you can be doing to create memories and connect with your baby throughout the pregnancy, and in early postpartum, too! Here are our top five tips for bonding with your baby, dad style:

1. Talk/sing/read to them.

Babies can hear starting around 16 weeks gestation, and studies have shown that they can even distinguish their parents’ voices from the rest of the world as early as 32 weeks— that’s right: your baby can hear you in the womb. So take the time to talk to them, read to them, sing to them, and start early! Even if you still don’t quite feel connected yourself, you will be laying important groundwork for getting to know your baby by allowing your baby to get to know your voice.

As an added bonus, these are activities that can and will continue to be an important means of connection even after baby arrives.

2. Skin-To-Skin is for dads, too!

Many hospitals, and especially those with the baby-friendly designation, offer a “golden hour” experience, or a mostly uninterrupted hour after birth to allow mother/baby bonding. During this time, skin-to-skin contact is encouraged, as it has been shown to have positive effects on breastfeeding outcomes.

But skin-to-skin between babies and their dads is just as important—in fact, it has notable impacts on fathers’ hormones, helping to rewire their brains for parenting. Basically, skin-to-skin is the first physical step toward initiating a bond with your baby for moms and dads alike.

3. Care for your baby.

This probably sounds like a no-brainer, but this is a really common area for partners to seek support in, especially if baby is breastfeeding and/or if the partner is continuing or returning to work shortly after the birth.

While feeding baby is a great way to bond with baby, it’s not the only bonding activity. If you have the option to give bottles from time to time, great! But if your partner is breastfeeding and there are no plans for bottle-feeding, there are still so many ways to care for baby that can help you create, deepen, and maintain a bond with your baby.

Skin-to-skin continues to be beneficial well into infancy and even early childhood, and works as a solid soothing technique—no milk required! Participating in bedtime routines is also good way to connect even if you’ve been away at work all day, and your baby may grow to really look forward to that time with you.

Ultimately, bonding with your baby is really no different than building a relationship with anyone else in your life: find things you both like and lean into them, and you will do just fine.