Seven things out of seven million possibilities, this list is intended to get fathers thinking about how they will “connect” with this new life. All too often, men stay out of the new baby equation until the child can walk and talk, robbing both the child and the father of the most incredible and crucial years of the child’s life. Let’s get started!
Be there pre-birth. Bonding with your baby actually begins before the baby is born. By forming a “teamwork” oriented relationship with Mom, a smart father steps far ahead of those dads waiting for their child to be born. Think about it. What affects Mom also affects the child. Many people believe that actually talking to the baby in the womb begins the process of bonding. Being present in Lamaze classes and the delivery room are invaluable to a man’s understanding of what goes on in bringing a new life into this world.
Find opportunities to hold your baby. No one is going to force you to get involved with your child. In fact, there is almost an expectation still prevalent today that a father will not get involved until much later. Hold your new baby the very first instant possible. Get familiar with the incredible new life you hold in your hands. This beautiful little baby will not be this size for long.
Get involved in feeding your baby. Think you can’t get involved with your child when Mom breastfeeds? Think again. You can make a production out of bringing your baby to Mom, burp the baby, interact with the baby to keep her awake, etc.
Dress your baby. Learn to dress your baby from day one. Learn how all the snaps work and what looks good and what doesn’t. Change diapers from the first day, too. Trust me, diaper changing is much easier in the first few months. The time you put in now will pay off when you have to deal with a really messy diaper later.
Read to your baby. Tons of studies show what people have known for years – reading to newborns, even children still in the womb, increases their ability to learn language patterns, develop an interest in reading, and can even positively affect intelligence. There are no downsides to reading to your baby, whether it be Spiderman comics, Isaac Asimov or the daily newspaper.
Dance with your baby. Music and dance are incredible bonding opportunities for dad. Children respond in the womb to music, and the swaying rhythms of dance are a form of communication to young and old alike. You don’t have to be Fred Astaire, you just have to move to the music while holding your baby. It is that simple.
Find ways to spend time with your baby. In the previous six examples, the common denominator is that you must spend time with your child. This will be true for the rest of your life. Your baby will learn more about you and his/her world if you take the time to get involved. Love is not the most important thing you can give your baby. Time is. If you don’t put in the time, you can’t show the love.