The world has changed.
No longer is the typical mother a professional housewife. She may well have a career of her own which she either wishes to pursue or needs to in order to support the family’s income.
So, the old 1950s model of the mum who is home all-day bonding with Baby while the dad is out working may have now largely gone.
However, while statistics show that most couples now see raising their baby as a joint daily responsibility, they also suggest that most mothers continue to spend considerably more intimate time with their baby than fathers.
Exactly why that is the case is inevitably a highly controversial debate around gender roles, nature, social assumptions, biology, and perhaps sexism. Even so, it is clear that while this remains the reality, some families experience more challenges in developing close intimate baby-father relationships that they do baby-mother.
So, whatever your family circumstances, here are 10 ways Dad and Baby can bond!
- Change the nappies!
Don’t leave this to Mum. It’s a fantastic time (if sometimes odorous) to really laugh, giggle and bond with your child. Most kids come alive when their nappies are being changed and look for interaction.
- Put the child to bed (or share it)
Take your baby to its sleeping place and settle it down. Talk to it a lot and make sure it gets plenty of reassuring cuddles.
- Feed the baby
True, this can be a slight logistical challenge for couples who are exclusively breastfeeding but it can be overcome if the mother expresses milk for use. It’s also true that some mothers admit to resenting slightly the intrusion into one of the most intimate times they spend with their baby, so this is a decision each couple must make.
If Dad is going to feed, do it fairly regularly – not just once a week.
- Eat with your child
Feeding time for a baby on solids can be a fairly messy and sometimes frustrating business but it is also great fun.
It might be tricky if you are out most of the day but at least at weekends, make the effort to feed your baby and try to eat something with it.
Infants learn largely through observation and play.
So, sit on the floor and play with your baby and its toys.
Yes, it sounds obvious but makes sure you take turns to bathe your child. Splash and horse around a bit. You’ll both smile and that is great for bonding.
- Look at books together
This is likely to only work at a few months onwards but look at picture books together. Read a picture-book story. The baby may not understand the meaning of the words but they will start to grasp the relationship between pictures and speech and they need to hear as much speaking as possible.
However painful your voice is, don’t be intimidated to sing nursery rhymes and other songs. You can advise other members of the family to hide for the duration if you wish but children respond quite differently to singing than speech.
Your baby will love it – as they don’t yet know what a “good voice” is!
- Help with potty training
Not everyone’s idea of fun it is true but many babies and toddlers find “potty time” to be very useful for a chance to giggle and babble. They really appreciate interested company.
Again, this might only be practical at weekends but when it is, get the pram out and walk your baby around. It’ll often spend a lot of time focusing on your face and that is beneficial for bonding.