Is feeding the only way dads can bond with baby?

A couple of years ago, my friend Dana and I were talking about our pregnancies. She was expecting her first baby and I was having my third. We exchanged notes on the latest strollers and carriers, the showers people were hosting for us, and how our hubbies were faring with our emotional ups and downs. Dana’s husband was very hands on and couldn’t wait for baby’s arrival. Dana also mentioned that he did not want her to breastfeed because he wanted to bond with baby too. ‘What do you think?’ she asked.

Since this discussion, I have worked with many expectant couples and I love seeing how excited dads get. We talk a lot about their role – during delivery and birth, but also what to anticipate after baby arrives. Their worries include not knowing how to help mom during labour, how to function on hardly any sleep, how to bond with baby, etc.

Dads can bond in many other ways

Like Dana’s husband, many people believe feeding a baby is the most important way to create those special bonding moments. But, this is just not true. For sure, feeding is a lovely moment when baby and caregiver share cuddles, looks and caresses. As a long-time breastfeeding mom, I wouldn’t have traded those moments with anyone. However, there are many other ways for dad to bond with baby.

So, if there are any men in your life looking to share some quality time with their baby but may not know where to start, please share these tips with them:

  • Skin to skin: My favourite way for dads to bond with baby is for them to get topless and do lots of skin to skin, or skin to fur, as one of my clients coined it! Babies like to snuggle in the crook of dad’s neck and listen to his deep voice which they find comforting. This is a great way to calm a fussy baby.
  • Baby-wearing: Baby’s love to be carried! They are kept warm by dad’s body temperature, comforted by his heart beat and swayed to sleep by his movements. Wraps, such as Maman Kangourou, Boba or Moby Wrap are great to carry newborns.
  • Spending alone time with baby: It’s nice for dads to have some alone time with baby without the watchful eyes of mom around the corner correcting his every move. Unlike moms, dads will often tend to include baby in their own activities rather than just focus on baby games.
  • Give baby a bath: Bath time is a lot of fun and eventually an important part of the bed time routine. Many babies and children look forward to this time of day.
  • Give the occasional bottle: And yes, dads can eventually give a bottle once baby is around 6 weeks old. I suggest dad take the 11 p.m. feed so mom can go to bed early and catch up on some much needed sleep. Also, I find that it’s good for baby to get used to taking a bottle at an early age so they won’t reject it later on.

Notice I did NOT mention diaper duty? Many new dads get relegated to changing all the poopy diapers. And though it is a special one-on-one moment with baby, I thought we’d keep the poop out of it this time.

Have your hubbies found ways to get to know baby better? Please share them with me!



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