I think we all agree that babies need their mommies. You probably have a picture in your head of holding your baby for the first time and that overwhelming feeling of love at first sight. You’re holding this little person who is totally dependent on you. You feed your baby and the warmth of your body keeps your baby warm. You have been bonding with your baby since before he or she was born. So what about dads? How important is the bond between dads and their babies?
Let’s face it, a baby needs both his mommy and his daddy. Each parent contributes to the love and security the baby feels in their own unique way. The Native Americans have a saying, “Mothers hold their babies close. Fathers hold their babies up to the world.” This means that each parent’s interaction with the baby may be different, but each is equally important.
In the old days (the 1950’s) dads were mostly hands-off when it came to babies. All the baby stuff was left to mom. When baby was born, dad did little more than hand out cigars. Fortunately we’ve come a long way and things have changed and for the better, I might add. Studies on parenting and bonding all point to the importance of dads bonding with their babies, especially in the first 8 weeks of your baby’s life. Of course, bonding for dads can start a lot earlier, even before your baby is born.
Bonding before the birth:
Studies have shown that the sooner dad becomes involved with his baby, the better it is for the whole family. In fact, dads can also start connecting with their baby before the baby is born. Babies in the womb can recognize voices by week 22. Since male voices are deeper than female voices it is easier for baby to hear dad’s voice. So encourage dad to talk to the bump! Newborns at birth will turn to a voice they recognize. What a great reward for connecting pre-birth!
Today dads are not only allowed but encouraged to be part of the birthing process. This is significant because when dads are involved in the pregnancy and birth of their babies, they are more likely to be involved not only with their newborn but also with their child as he or she grows up.Bonding after the birth:
Some dads may be great coaches in the birthing room but don’t feel comfortable getting involved with their newborn. That’s usually because they feel a bit lost and just don’t know what to do. Their baby is so small and they’re so big. I’ve heard dads say, “If I hold her, I might break her”. To which I reply, “Nonsense!” Gentle encouragement from mom will also help dads overcome this insecurity. Seeing photographs of celebrity dads like Jamie Oliver, Will Smith and Brad Pitt carrying and holding their babies, gives all dads the green light to snuggle up to their babies too.
There are so many fun and easy ways dad can bond with his baby. Babies are charming. Just try handing your little one over to dad then walk away and watch what happens. By the time you come back you’ll see the two of them grinning and gurgling.Advantages of Daddy-Baby bonding:
Dads who are highly involved with their babies make a significant impact on the baby’s social and emotional growth:
- Their babies will interact equally well with both parents and more easily with strangers. One study showed that babies who were 12 to 14 months old and who had dads who played an active role in their baby’s lives were more sociable than babies whose fathers were distant and uninvolved.
- There are other studies that show that the quality and amount of daddy-baby contact has a direct impact on how secure children feel growing up.
- Babies who have a strong attachment to their dads have fewer behavioral problems growing up.
- Language skills and cognitive skills are higher in children when a dad was very involved with his baby from the first month on.
Your baby already has a mom, so it’s important for dad to be “Dad” and be encouraged to bond in his own special way. A dad who bonds with his baby is a win-win situation for the whole family. CLICK HERE for easy and fun ways for Dad to bond with his baby.