Friday, December 7, 2012

The 'Dad' aspect.....helping new fathers bond with their new babies!

My article published at

When a new baby carves its way into your family, there’s a lot to adjust to. While mom stands a better chance to get close to the baby, it can quite be challenging for both the partners to connect with the little one. Mothers have natural instincts of involving with the babies solely because they devote a substantial amount of time with them; while the dads take a little longer to cultivate that special bonding. With a little creativity, perseverance and efforts, a father can feel just as attached to his new-born as a breast-feeding mom.
Below are a few simple suggestions that can help to reassure that much desired natural affection between the father and the baby.

Talk to me, Dad
Studies have proved that babies learn to differentiate between the voices of their parents’ and strangers from around 30 weeks in the womb. If the dad talks to the baby before it is born, it’s easier for the baby to feel closer to father due to the familiarity in the vocal sound. Sheena Mehta, mother to Simone, 16 weeks says, “Piyush used to talk to my tummy every morning and night towards the end of my pregnancy. When Simone was born, she instantly felt at ease with him the moment he picked her up and started talking.”

Be right there
However insane this may sound, but make it a point to be present at the birth of your baby. Veena, mother to Shruti, five, is expecting her second baby anytime. She says, “Varun believes that he really bonded well with Shruti when he decided to witness her birth. He insisted on being the first to embrace her and make a direct eye contact. He still feels that it was the best decision as it helped him connect with Shruti instantaneously.”

Let your fingers do the talking
Before your baby is born, if you can arrange for an experienced baby masseur to give some tips and lessons to you and your partner, it will really help you both in the long run. It’s a wonderful way for father and baby to spend some great time together. This will also provide some much-needed breather to the new mom, knowing that the baby is totally relaxed and benign with the dad. Apart from the emotional paybacks, studies have shown that a good soothing massage can relieve the baby from colic, indigestion and stimulate better breathing.

Touch me
Encourage the father to step into that bath along with the baby. Apart from giving him a chance to feel involved, it will help grow the expressive bonding between them big time. Bathing is a fantastic way for dad and baby to get involved with each other. “Quite frequently Varun would jump into the bath with Shruti and I could hear them chattering for hours. This is their earmarked time and I know for sure that Shruti thrives on it.” Says Veena.

Walk me around
Very often, we see mothers strapping their new-borns in the strollers to venture out just for a plain walk or stocking up on the groceries. If this role can be swapped with the dad carrying his little one in a sling or carrier, there’s nothing that can stop create that bond between the two. This will also allow father to carry on with his routine as well as for the baby to feel calm and closer to his dad.

Remember that breastfeeding is the only thing you can do for your baby that his dad can’t. Hence, involve him into some basic yet important tasks like nappy-changing, comforting the baby at night, burping and of course, bathing. Encourage him to help you out in every little way he can. “When I hit the bed after a strenuous day managing and nursing my Twins, it was Chandler who instantly offered to attend to them in the middle of the night, whenever required. Except feeding, he managed everything from diaper changes to soothing and calming them. This really helped me get over my fatigue and face each day with more gusto and passion.” Valerie, mother of 2 years old Twins recalls.

Jive baby jive
Babies are very astute and keen learners. They instantly retort to music and love being jiggled about. It can really be fun to put on that favourite CD and do a little boogie-woogie while holding the baby closer. This can be a cheerful bonding experience and if you are lucky enough, chances are your baby will doze off to sleep.

Share the knowledge
In today’s internet era, any information is available at the click of the mouse. There are number of online parenting forums where experiences are shared and information is exchanged. It’s a wise decision to join these forums and seek the info, whenever necessary. “I am an active participant in some of the parenting forums available online. It helps me and my wife to deal with most of the doubts we have while raising our son. The information, experiences and suggestions that are shared, has helped us connect with Aryan in confident and optimistic way. Whenever I get a chance, I encourage other dads to explore these resources” Says Anant, father of eight months old Aryan.

Bonding is a complicated and individual experience that takes time, endurance and efforts. There is no magic formula and it certainly cannot be enforced upon. As far as baby’s basic needs are catered to, he won’t wriggle even though his connection is not sturdy enough with his dad. As you and your partner become more comfortable with your baby and the subsequent routine, variations and responsibilities, you both will experience all the incredible stages of growing up with your little one. Parenting is an experience to cherish and tiny efforts will help both of you make it a remarkable one!

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