When expecting a baby, it is natural for the expectant mother to bond with the child as the baby’s movements create a sense of excitement and anticipation of what is to come. However, that may not appear to be the same for Fathers. Fathers tend to be more detached from babies than mothers. To them, it may appear to be an abrupt change in situation, having to nurture and raise a new life. What may come naturally for mothers may appear difficult for fathers.
There are however, ways that mothers can help husbands overcome their fears and apprehension towards handling a newborn. Check these tips out!
1. Find A Comfortable Carrying Position
This may come naturally for most mothers, but it may not be true for fathers, as some are honestly terrified at handling a baby whose neck requires constant support. Help your husband to find a suitable position by practicing it in front of a mirror with a soft toy. With familiarity, Father can try it with the baby when they are in a good mood or also in a cranky state. Be around to patiently coach, guide and support him on how to handle baby’s fragile body and neck. Fathers will be more willing to spend time with their child when they are more confident in carrying and interacting with them.
2. Bathe Baby
This may be intimidating not just for fathers but also, for mothers as well. Take it slowly and take each opportunity as a good lesson. Share the experience by working together to recall your antenatal lesson on bathing baby and you may find that your husband is better at the task! If he needs time to grow in confidence, have your hubby dry and dress baby after you bathe them. Bathing time is usually a great time for fathers to spend time with the baby.
3. Feed Baby
Once you have introduced the bottle to baby, let your husband bottle-feed baby on a daily basis (preferably at night). It will give him the opportunity to bond with baby and a great opportunity for you to rest.
4. Get Him To Burp Baby
After you have finished nursing or bottle feeding, hand the baby to your husband to let him burp your child. It would allow him some hands on time and in doing so, he may discover the most effective means of burping baby. My husband had a knack of burping both my boys a lot faster than I did.
5. Give Baby A Back-rub
Babies love skin to skin contact and nothing spells bonding more than that physical touch when a parent soothes them. The upstroke movements not only mimic burping, helping to further expel any trapped air in the baby’s tummy, but it’s a great way for the dad to simply enjoy baby, either standing, sitting (or slouching) in the couch or even lying down together. It makes a sweet picture too!
6. Read To Baby
Help your baby to recognise daddy’s voice by getting your husband to read to your baby even while they are still in the womb. Reading should continue after childbirth as it helps to lay the foundation of reading. Furthermore, fussing babies calm down faster when they hear a familiar voice speaking to them.
7. Sling Baby When Going Out
Whether you are using a sling or a carrier, allow your husband the opportunity to carry baby. Baby will soon learn to recognise daddy’s heartbeat and help lay the foundation for feeling safe in daddy’s arms!
8. Play With Baby
It may seem and feel strange for a grown man to spend time with a baby compare to a woman. BUT.. you may be surprise the little sparks and love that can arise when they both spent time together. Suggest a few activities that your husband can do with baby for playtime (tummy time, reading, rattle toys, tummy tickles, singing etc.) but leave him alone with your child so that he can experiment with different ways on how to make the baby happy.
9. Talk To Baby
It doesn’t have to involve baby talk. Daddy can talk about his day at work, tell baby what he likes about him/her, ask baby questions and even share about his dreams for the family in future. This will also enable your husband to develop a healthy habit of having a daily conversation with the children.
10. Be Part Of The Bedtime Routine
Try to extend this beyond a simple ‘good night’ and instead, create a bedtime habit that is unique to daddy alone. It can be as simple as reading a book together, a kiss or a hug (different from how mummy does it), a bedtime prayer or daddy singing baby a lullaby etc. Do this nightly, and the familiarity will help your child to identify a strong parental identity towards bedtime, desiring your presence whenever nightfall draws near.
By Ruth Mak.
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This article was first published in New Age Pregnancy.
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