It’s Prince Harry’s first Father’s Day and it will be a first for lots of other dads too.
Some new fathers might feel nervous about interacting with their baby. Babies seem so fragile, many men worry about injuring them. And as babies don’t tend to talk too much, what do you say to them?
One of the biggest concerns dads have during pregnancy and in the early days is about forming a bond with their baby. Here are some tips from NCT to help.
Start before they’re born. Pre-birth bonding can significantly increase the chance that dads will develop a strong bond with their baby. Babies can hear within the womb from around 18 weeks so, however silly it might feel, take time every day to speak, sing or read to your baby in the womb.
Get snuggling. Make sure that you get that crucial skin-to-skin contact as soon after birth as you can. Skin-to-skin cuddles let your baby hear your heartbeat and learn your smell, just like they do with their mum if she’s breastfeeding. Take every opportunity you can to let them snuggle up on your chest.
Get stuck in from day one. Get used to holding your baby, changing their clothes and nappy-changing duties. Young babies might seem fragile, but picking them up and holding them soon becomes second nature.
Baby massage. One of the best activities for bonding is baby massage. It releases floods of the happy hormone oxytocin in both of you, which will help cement your connection.
Have some one-to-one time. Try and spend time with your baby by yourself, for example going for a walk with them in a sling. This will give you a chance to bond, as well as letting your partner have some time to relax or sleep.
Rough and tumble. At around six months old, your baby is developmentally ready for some more boisterous play. We’re talking about aeroplaning round the room, bouncing up and down and tickling. Energetic play ramps up the release of oxytocin, dopamine and beta-endorphin. This means babies and their dads get a head-rush of bonding chemicals.
Other dads can help. The video below gives some more great tips from other new dads in the same boat. NCT might run a group in your area you can attend. These are often free drop-ins for new mums and dads to meet up for a cup of tea and a chat and can help you build up a supportive social network.