I was recently discussing the new Paternity Leave for Dads on BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester & my article was also published in the Indian Magazine Kids Stop Press about the importance of Dads bonding with their new born babies.
So here is my advice on how fathers can build a bond with their child and why it’s important.
A generation ago, Dads were seen as primarily as the bread winners, the disciplinarians, and the people who went to work and left bonding and taking care of their newborn to their partners. But in the past several decades, the role has evolved into a much more nurturing, tender, involved one, and while this is great news for overworked and exhausted mums, research is also showing that an involved father is also crucial to the healthy development of their child.
Your child’s brain is growing faster between the beginning of pregnancy and 3 years of age than at any other stage in their entire life. This time is often referred to as the ‘critical period’ of development for your child as it creates the foundation for their long-term positive outcomes. Your child’s neural pathways (learning connections) are forming in their brain during this period and the development of your child’s brain is determined by their daily experiences, with you and the world. Positive experiences from this earliest age support healthy brain development which then, supports future learning. So it’s important for both of you to be actively involved in bonding with your baby.
While it is generally easier for your baby and their Mum to form an early and deep bond, this only means that you, the father need to dig a little deeper and try a little harder to find special ways and moments to show your baby that you love them and want to be involved in their lives.
If you begin early you will create a special bond between you that will last a lifetime.
Recent studies have suggested that children whose fathers are actively involved with them from birth are more likely to be
2.Confident in exploring their surroundings
3.Have better social connections with peers as they grow older
4.Are less likely to get in trouble at home and at school
5.Less likely to use drugs and alcohol.
6.Children with fathers who are nurturing, involved, and playful also turn out to have higher IQs and better linguistic and cognitive capacities.
The way that you play with your children can be important as well, as Dads tend to spend more time in playful, physical activities with their children, which researchers believe helps children learn to regulate their emotions and resist the urge to act on aggressive impulses.
Dads also tend to encourage independence and achievement, in contrast to the nurturing and protective nature of Mums, so you both contribute complimentary skills which play an important role in your child’s healthy development.
Keep Your Baby Close
When a mum is breastfeeding her baby she cuddles them up close to her chest and so her baby has a perfect view into her eyes. When you are cuddling your baby, or if you are perhaps bottle-feeding your little one, make sure that you hold them in the same position, allowing your baby to gaze up at you too so you interact, engage, connect and bond naturally.
Share the Night Time Shift
If you aren’t home during the day to help comfort your baby, become the “rescuer of the night” when your baby cries. This will give you and your baby precious alone time and give your partner a chance to catch up on some long overdue extra sleep. Simply relax and begin to tune in to your baby’s cry. Imagine that you are a detective, like Sherlock Homes, exploring and learning to understand your baby as you learn to ‘read’ what each different cry means and what they like you to do to comfort them.
Soothe Their Tears
Even though it may be really tempting, and easy, to hand your crying baby back to Mum (who always seems to know what your baby needs) be brave and try and soothe your baby’s tears. Try singing to them, walking around with them in your arms, gently rock them, or find the closest dummy for them to suck on. It’s good for your baby to learn that Mum isn’t the only one who can give them what they need.
Make Silly Faces
Baby’s love to gaze into your face and they love it when you make silly faces. They will reward you with a giggle, a smile or a gurgle of pleasure. This bonds you both together and as your baby gets older try fun games like playing peekaboo.
Be a Part of the Bedtime Routine
A consistent bedtime schedule is very important to helping your baby sleep through the night. Choose a part of the routine you want to be involved in like bath time. This will help your baby to understand that when Dad says its bath time, it’s will be bedtime soon too.
You can also strengthen your connection to your baby simply by being there for your partner. Sharing the simple routines or simply going along to doctor’s appointments shows that you are becoming intimately involved in the child rearing process. The added benefit is also that mothers who feel more supported by fathers tend to involve the fathers more with child-rearing later on and if you are more involved it means that you are more likely to bond and to give your child the very best start in life.