As babies begin to learn their world, time with Dad is crucial to help strengthen the initial bonds between the two. In this article we’ll discuss the many ways that new fathers can become both papa bear and playmate to their baby.
How Do Dads Bond with Babies?
Fortunately for new dads and newborns, there are dozens of activities that serve as fantastic bonding experiences. Dads that want to bond with their baby can try:Skin-to-skin contact - research indicates that skin-to-skin contact is one of the most effective bonding experiences for baby and dad. That’s because skin-to-skin contact releases oxytocin, which is commonly called the “love hormone.”
- Side or stomach position
Can Newborns Sense Their Father?
Yes, newborns can sense the presence of their fathers and recognize their voices. In fact, research has found that many infants begin sensing their fathers before they’re even born! Some experts believe infants in the womb may start recognizing their father’s voice as early as 32-weeks into pregnancy.
What Can Dads Do With Newborns?
Early bonding with your baby is a crucial step toward developing a strong and healthy relationship that will last a lifetime.
If you’re a new dad looking for ways to bond with your baby, consider trying out these tips and tricks for spending quality bonding time with your newborn.
- Pick Up a Fun Book - reading to your baby is an excellent bonding experience that helps your baby develop the feelings of safety and security that are crucial for the development of healthy attachment behaviors later in life.
- Turn Bath Time Into Bonding Time - dads that want to bond with their babies can take over bath time responsibilities and spend more time splashing and playing with their babies.
- Use Changing and Feeding Time to Get Hands-On - changing and feeding your baby can help create a sense of familiarity, comfort, and security between babies and new dads. Plus, it’s always appreciated by mom!
- Stick Out the Screams - resisting the urge to call for backup when your baby starts crying can help new dads create deeper bonds with their babies as they soothe and calm them.
- Babywearing - it may sound funny, but babywearing is one of the best techniques new dads can use to bond with their babies. Baby bjorns, wraps, slings, and backpack-style carriers all make babywearing convenient, easy, and fun!
- After-work Rituals - if you work long hours away from your baby, an after-work ritual like a snuggle-storm or ticklefest can help create a regular bonding experience between dad and baby that can be enjoyed for years to come.
- Paternity Leave - if balancing bonding and work is just too much, it can be worth exploring your options for paternal leave. Some companies provide a week or longer for baby and dad to bond.
All of these strategies will help your baby’s attachment to you grow. As you create a routine of baby and dad activities, your baby will begin to associate you with feelings of love, care, safety, and security.
What Can You Do Outside With a Newborn?
Luckily for outdoorsy dads, there are plenty of activities newborns can enjoy in and around nature. Popular and easy outdoor activities for new dads and babies include:
- Trips to the park
- Walks around the neighborhood
- Hiking in nature
- Visiting playgrounds
- And visiting waterparks and pools with designated swimming areas for parents, babies, and small children
Whichever outdoor activity you decide to try with your baby, remember to load up on sunscreens, diapers, changes of clothes, and plenty of drinks, snacks, and bottles for a smooth, snag-free day.
What Are Fun Activities to Do With a Baby?
New dads also don’t have to head outside to enjoy bonding with their babies. There are a near-endless amount of fun activities dad and baby can do anywhere, including at home, in the car, and out-and-about in public.
If you’re a new dad looking for fun ideas to bond with your baby, try:
- Having silly conversations with your baby
- Regularly reading to your baby
- Enjoying your favorite tunes with your baby
- Giving soothing fingertip massages
- Playing with puppets
- Singing to your baby
- And mirroring your baby’s coos and movements
7 Outdoor Activities for Babies 4 -6 Months
All of the activities mentioned above are perfect for any age range and can be enjoyed indoors, outdoors, and everywhere in between. If you want to continue guiding your baby’s development while bonding as they reach four to six months of age, consider adding outdoor games and activities to your baby and dad routine like:
- Playing with bubbles
- Enjoying splash pads, baby pools, and other forms of water play
- Sensory play using leaves, grass, flowers, and other parts of nature
- Going on hikes where you show your baby the trees, flowers, and nature you come across along the way
- Enjoy the sights and sounds at your local zoo
- Swinging in baby swings at the park
- Exploring the textures of rocks, twigs, and sand
Bonding with your baby can help set them up for success in relationships for the rest of their life. Taking the time to enjoy the outdoors, explore new experiences, and try out new dad and newborn bonding techniques also creates wonderful memories you’ll hold close to your heart as your baby grows into a toddler, child, teenager, and on to adulthood.