When experts talk about bonding, they are referring to the intense attachment you develop with your baby. It is the feeling that makes you want to shower your child with love and affection, or that instinct to protect them at all costs.
Becoming a dad will probably be one of the biggest events of your life.
Bonding can take time; it does not happen right away for everyone. Some dads feel a strong bond with their baby within the first few minutes or days of birth, but it may take a little longer and that is ok. After all, this brand-new little human has just appeared like a bolt of lightning into your life, you also may be helping your partner recover from birth, not to mention lacking in sleep. Take it easy on yourself and know that the bond will develop before long.
Creating a strong bond with your child is easier than you might think too. It’s the everyday interactions and small moments added up over time that contribute to your child’s emotional and cognitive well-being.
What are the best ways to bond?
The parent-child bond strengthens over time. There is no magic formula, but a few things can help the process along, especially when they are younger.
- Create some one-on-one time with your baby by getting involved in their daily routine from dressing to settling from bathing to nappy changing – the best way to build your skills and confidence.
- Have some skin-to-skin time. Human touch is soothing for both you and your baby, so hold your baby often and stroke them gently.
- Talk while you’re carrying or changing your baby. Every word a baby hears helps develop their language and learning and strengthens your relationship with them.
- Play with your child every day. Newborns can enjoy playtime too. Your style of play may be different than your partner's, that is fine as your baby will love playing with both of you.
- Carry your baby in a sling or front carrier on walks or as you go about your daily routine allows your baby to see your face and connect with you.
- Read to your baby regularly. Hold them close as you read so they get to know your familiar voice.
- Mirror the coos and other vocalisations your baby makes. You will soon begin to realise what these coos mean and what your baby needs.
- Talk to your baby throughout the day. At first, it may seem strange like you are talking to yourself, but it will start to feel more natural the more you keep it up.
As your child gets older just make the most of your time together.
- Work on a hobby together
- Participate in any events that you can do together in your local area
- Volunteer at your child’s school/after-school
- Find something in common for example, music or cooking
- Just take time to have conversations about daily life
What if I continue to struggle to bond with my child?
Let your healthcare provider know if you continue to feel distant from your baby, and if efforts to encourage your feelings of attachment do not seem to be working. Postpartum depression is commonly associated with moms – however, this is not always the case, so it is better to seek guidance if you do not feel that connection.
As your child gets older, if you still feel out of touch with them try to meet on some common ground and lead by example. Just by showing up and being there for them when they need you can make all the difference especially when those teenage years come around.