All About Dad! Celebrating the Special Bond Between Father and Baby
Fathers play a critical role in the lives of their children from the very first moments of life.
For starters, dads perform a number of essential tasks, from feeding and bathing the baby to changing diapers. As a new dad, you can also be there to comfort and soothe baby after feeding, or to read a story before nap time.
And let’s not forget the absolute importance of supporting mom as she recovers from childbirth and begins breastfeeding!
Here are a few great ways for you to bond with baby and share in the wonderful adventures of parenting together with mom.
Quality Father-Baby Time
Every new dad should hold his newborn baby and make eye contact as soon as possible after birth. These early interactions establish a trusting bond between father and child.
One of the best things you can do as a new dad is to gently hold baby against your chest without a shirt on, such as after a shower. Skin-to-skin contact is extremely comforting for new babies. It helps them regulate body temperature, reduces stress and releases pleasurable hormones like oxytocin.
You can also soothe baby by using the breastlike Ninni pacifier. Made of soft, pliable silicone, the Ninni mimics the same mouth and jaw movements as when breastfeeding. It offers an easy way for moms and dads alike to promote healthy oral development in between feedings.
Read and sing to baby when it’s time for a nap. This teaches baby to recognize your voice, which helps him or her feel safe and secure. You can also play peek-a-boo or make funny faces while feeding, bathing, diapering or dressing baby.
Use a sling or carrier to take baby with you when walking around the house, through the neighborhood or in the store. Make a habit of spending quality time together after work or running errands.
Finally, establish special father-child traditions early in life. For newborns this could be as simple as a daily story time. As your child gets older it might include trips to the park, weekend movie nights or going to sporting events together.
During & Between Feedings
Sometimes new dads feel left out or unsure of what to do while mom breastfeeds the baby.
The good news is that involvement from the non-nursing parent is highly beneficial for mom and baby alike. It helps the child bond with both parents and may encourage baby to breastfeed longer.
Infant Feeding Patterns
Newborns typically eat every 2 to 3 hours, which works out to about 8 to 12 times every 24 hours. Baby will let you know when they are hungry or full, so follow their lead.
The amount of breast milk consumed will gradually increase. At birth, babies will usually have just 1 or 2 teaspoons of milk per feeding. Within the first 2 weeks that increases to about 2 ounces, or the size of a ping pong ball. Baby will feel hungrier during growth spurts, and mom will need extra love and support during this time also.
Notice whether baby is swallowing while feeding to ensure they are getting enough nourishment. A satisfied baby will feel relaxed after feeding and will exhibit healthy growth and weight gain. And be sure to pay attention to baby’s poops! The color, texture and frequency will tell you important information about eating habits.
Dad’s Role in Breastfeeding
Offer lots of support and encouragement while mom is breastfeeding. Both parents should meet with a lactation consultant to learn the basics. The consultant will show the non-nursing parent how to tell if baby is positioned and latching properly. You’ll also learn how to help if mom has any trouble with breastfeeding.
Dad can help soothe baby after feeding while mom rests. This is also a good time to introduce the Ninni pacifier. All you have to do is hold baby in a feeding position and slide the pacifier into place. Gently hold it in position while baby learns to grasp the pacifier with the lips and tongue. It may take a few tries for baby to get the hang of it, so patience and persistence are key.
Sharing the Childcare Load
Participating in childcare activities helps baby develop a strong bond with dad. It also lets mom enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation.
As noted, you are encouraged to offer support while mom is breastfeeding. You can also help with bottle feeding, burping, soothing and putting baby to sleep after feeding. Both parents should help with bathing, dressing and changing diapers.
Offer the Ninni pacifier for extra comfort, both at home and when traveling. You can order a pacifier clip to keep it from getting lost, along with a compact case holder to keep it safe and clean.
Love & Support for Mom
It’s no secret that new moms need lots of TLC before, during and after childbirth.
Offer words of encouragement and support during breastfeeding. Help soothe baby and snuggle if mom needs to rest afterward. Pick up her favorite foods at the store and prepare meals and snacks to share. Limit visitors if necessary when mom is feeling tired.
Flowers, candy and other thoughtful gifts are also a wonderful way to show her some love at this special time!