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HOW TO BOND WITH YOUR NEWBORN BABY- A DADS PERSPECTIVE

Top Tips on how to bond with your baby from a father of five.

It’s all action, having a baby is nothing short of a rollercoaster ride of feelings, emotions and head-spinning events that you simply weren’t really that prepared for.

You don’t really have time to think and take things in, and you kind of react and adapt to what’s happening around you to get through.

Sometimes you’re enjoying the ride, sometimes your hands are in the air screaming joy being part of something amazing. 

Other times you’re screaming for other reasons, just terrified, holding on trying to maintain your manly dignity.  With the hope that this ride ends soon, as you feel faint and need a lie down (don’t tell your partner this).

Finally, you guys made it, the baby is here. 

Just when you thought the ride was over, the rollercoaster car you’re in clinks into the ascent once again.  There’s more?!  Yes, there is, but a different kind of ride this time.

not bonding with baby,

HOW I BONDED WITH MY SON

This is how it felt for me after the birth of our first son.  It was quite an adventure and finally, the baby needed a little assistance before making his first public appearance. 

After the frantic nature of the birth, and after the staff had gone. I suddenly found myself surrounded by calm, by a quiet stillness.

We had done it.  Baby had arrived and in this moment, there was nothing more to do, nothing further to be fetched, no calls to be made and no errands to be run.  It was just us. Three of us now.  Wow.

Now comes the part I wasn’t so prepared for.  The quiet and believe me whether it’s at night or during the day you’ll have some moment of quiet. 

It was at this time I was reflecting;  you have your baby,  a real piece of you, your son or daughter.  It was taking some time to sink in and to be honest, it wasn’t sinking in as I had initially thought it would. 

Related: Best Tummy Time Activities for Newborns

I was confronted with a lot of different feelings.  Some rational, and perhaps so obvious that you wondered why they actually required any conscious thought at all?  Others more subtle that I didn’t realize were lying in wait for me.

I really liked watching my baby and mom sleep and not because that’s the only time I could get a break.  It was peaceful, they had been through a lot, they had given a lot.  

I enjoyed watching the serenity around them as they slept, or how my wife cuddled our son. In one of these moments, unexpectedly an overwhelming sense of responsibility overcame me. 

Like a huge tidal wave enveloping me in one swirl, consuming me totally.  My eyes wide like saucers focusing in on them.

This baby is completely reliant on us.  Ok I know babies tend not to be able to order out for a meal or hire a uber when they need to be someplace, but you know what I mean. 

The realization that this little baby needed me in a way no one has ever needed me before, weighed me down.  When you’re holding your baby (and I recommend you do at every opportunity) it impresses upon you how small cute and fragile this little life is. 

Related: Toddler Climbing Out of Crib: Solutions and Hacks!

AM I GOOD ENOUGH AS A DAD?

A buddy of mine felt totally detached from his baby for the first month and I think it was because it all felt too surreal.  Like it was happening to someone else. 

However, when we had a coffee and talked I realized I went through the something similar, but at a faster pace. Initially, I felt somewhat detached from the whole experience, only after a while when I was able to relax did these feelings really emerge.   

It’s about that bonding and everyone is different.  This is why I recommend that you as dad get some time to hold your baby, look at your baby and just be together.  It’s really awesome.

Without getting too heavy but being completely open, another very overwhelming feeling for new dad’s is wondering if they are good enough to be ‘Dad’.  Believe it or not this can impact you from bonding

Again we all have different upbringings and travel different journeys in life but there are those time when you don’t have the confidence to feel if you will be good enough to be ‘Dad’.  Will you be a good parent, can you do a good job?   Nobody wants to suck at this.  Especially not the Dad job.

Despite our overall tough demeanors, we can lack confidence in ourselves at times.  A lot of the time it’s because we want to do a good job and we want to be better despite our own personal flaws. 

You know it’s important and it’s something you give some thought to, but try not to stress out and overthink these things.

In talking to my buddy about this whole bonding experience and the kinds of feelings that can surface, we came to the following thoughts;  as men, we all know guys who have done the job of dad well and to the best of their ability and circumstances. 

We also know guys who were less than impressive in doing their job as Dad.  Some guys just suck, it could be that they are a little too self-centered or not self-aware enough.   One thing to keep in mind is that is not you. 

This is a new chapter and new people and the pages have turned.  You don’t have to be the dude who sucks at being Dad just because you may have known someone like that. 

Or you may not feel that you can’t do the things it takes, or that you don’t possess the requisite qualities to make a great dad. 

Let me assure you, you have what it takes and do indeed have the correct qualities.  Like everything, you may have to work at it a little.   

Don’t let this overwhelm you.  If you are conscientious, hardworking and compassionate dude then you’ll do ok.  If not, well you know what to work on, it’s time to man up positively and do the right thing. 

The world has just opened up for a new life and you share the center of that universe with your partner.   It’s pretty awesome.

Related: Best Infant Car Seats for Small Cars

FINDING THE TIME TO BOND WITH YOUR BABY IS SO IMPORTANT

Now the next thing I am going to write about may seem weird to some but to us guys, it can a real issue, and can sometimes stop our bonding with the baby in the way we wanted or hoped to.  Your baby (especially if it is baby 1) can become all-consuming for your partner to the point where you feel like you are on the outside.  

Now we all know a baby is a trust and huge responsibility and no one will perceive that more acutely then Mom.  It goes without saying new Mom’s will want and need to spend time with the baby, however, it’s really important for dad to get a little baby time too. 

Holding baby, playing with the baby and speaking to the baby is really important for us fella’s but we need a chance to get close, otherwise, it can be tricky for dads to build that bond. 

Some Mom’s may feel their partner hasn’t ‘connected’ with the baby and it’s not surprising dad can’t get close.  This needs a bit of understanding on both sides. 

 It can be especially tough in the early days for a dad to bond with a breastfed baby; although, if you do find yourself in this situation where Mom won’t put the baby down, as the old saying goes discretion is the better part of valor.

I would take a step back a touch and give Mom and baby that special time and space they need.  You’ll get that time you’ll need in due course.  Patience is a virtue as they say.

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TALK TO YOUR PARTNER ABOUT BONDING WITH THE BABY AND WHAT YOU ARE FINDING DIFFICULTY WITH

Now without a doubt, some guys are happy to be on the sidelines, handling the baby as little as possible and I can understand it. 

Many guys can feel a little awkward around a delicate newborn and I am no exception, however, after baby number three I seemed to have a better handle on it. 

Yeah, it only took me 3 babies before my confidence with newborns was at a good level.  Some men will find bonding with the second and third child also difficult but this could be due to time pressures and also the support your partner needs with the other children.

In this instance, I would recommend you find a special time when the others are at school, doing an activity or in bed to spend some quality time with your newborn as bonding with your baby is so important in the early days.

So if you feel like your partner really wants you to hold baby change diapers and generally be fully hands on before your ready the best approach is the most honest one. 

Level with your partner and explain if you feel awkward or apprehensive.  Ease into it as nobody is going to thank you for manhandling the baby, least of all baby!

Related: Best Baby Activity Table

ASK FOR HELP IF YOU NEED IT

I also found the midwives were of great help, They want to help and so I just straight out asked for help. 

I was upfront on what I didn’t know and they were more than happy to help me through it.  I asked the first midwife on how to go about holding a baby and how best the lay them down and pick them up. 

All the real basic stuff.  I also asked about how to change the diaper and keeping baby clean.  You have all these super professional people around you so why not just ask and get tutored on the job? 

It makes total sense and the midwives are totally happy to help.  No one is there to judge you, although some of my early diaper fittings were comically bad.  I am glad only 3 of us saw those efforts.

If you are lucky enough not to have to work during the first week or so after having the baby the best advice I can give you is be as hands-on as possible and also take time to hold and chill with baby. 

It really helps develop that bond and to allow your world to catch up after the rollercoaster of the birth.  Soak it all up and delight in your shared love of this baby.  Take time.

If you are one of those many hardworking dads who have to work away or during the first couple of weeks then I can sympathize. 

I have also been in that situation, meeting mounting costs and having to pay bills means if I don’t go to work then we can’t meet our commitments. 

I am lucky as I have an understanding partner in my wife.  She recognizes there is nowhere I would rather be than at home with her and the baby, but the reality is I have to work for the family. 

In this situation I found after a long day at work, I’d make up time by just chilling with the baby in my arms.  No phone, no media just old school, talking to my wife and about her and the baby. 

It’s really therapeutic and also allows you to feel connected and part of their world.

Related: 10 of the Best Baby Night Lights

BONDING WITH A BABY THAT CRIES ALL DAYAND ALL NIGHT

The final part of this bonding experience is dealing with all but least harmonious type of baby; the infamous cry baby! 

I have to tell you that this is difficult.  Some babies just get out of bed wrong side and they are not happy about it and more than prepared let you know. 

It’s surprising how quickly a baby who never really made much of a sound before can exercise their little lungs so effectively that they develop a shriek that could shatter glass or out wail an evacuation siren! 

How babies are so loud I don’t know but it’s real! sometimes the baby cries with dad because you don’t smell of mom, funnily enough, I have been known on occasions to wrap the baby in my wives shawl and this has really helped get the baby used to me.

Who knows the baby may end up bonding more with dad then mom!

The only way to deal with this is to crank up the compassion and understanding.  If your dial goes from 1 to 10, you may need to find 11! 

Understand for the baby the world experience is challenging, the noises, sounds and smells seem lousy in comparison to being tucked up in a womb. 

Just like Neo from the Matrix, they may wish they had never been unplugged from the comfort of the mothership.  So all we can do is be our best understanding partners we can be.

Find the magic that your baby needs to quell the siren of doom.  It may be food, or a swift nappy change, turning off your phone or a myriad of annoyances that get baby upset. 

Find the issues and try to keep baby calm, which in turn helps keep Mom calm, which then descends upon you. 

Remember it takes a little time to figure this out and it can be stressful for new parents.  Be cool it will be ok and remember you probably did this to your folks when you first arrived. 

So it’s all good but how does this help to bond?

Well having compassion for your crying baby, not getting aggravated and staying calm in the face an unhappy infant helps you connect rather than be irritated and overwhelmed. 

Just take comfort, this is day 1, another 18 years to go and you’ll have this cracked!

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