A few weeks ago, I was watching my husband play with our 6-month-old son, tossing him lightly into the air, and I felt my heart drop from where I sat. My heart couldn’t handle the fear as I saw the potential for him to fall and get hurt, but at the same time, I loved the sound of the giggles and laughter from the two of them. I was terrified, but they were having the time of their lives! I know I play and laugh with my son, but it’s so different from the way that I see my son and his dad play together.
In this postpartum period since having my son, I’ve been grateful that my husband has been there to help care for my son, and I have come to appreciate and understand the role and importance that my son’s father plays in his life, especially in these early months of his life.
When a new baby is born, it can be hard for a dad to feel involved in caring for the child. Moms are usually viewed as the one who knows how to meet all the baby’s needs. However, it’s important to note that dads can and should be more than just an assistant parent. Their bond can be as equally strong as the mother’s.
As your baby learns about the world, they are also developing attachments to the people who care for them. When parents are responsive, accessible, and engaged with their baby, then the attachment is more secure and the bond that develops between them is strong. Dads and moms can both develop this type of attachment with their little one.
Here are a few actions dads can take to develop a secure attachment with their children:
- Feed your baby. One of a baby’s most basic needs is eating. Dads can take opportunities to feed their babies. Feeding a baby provides an opportunity for eye contact which facilitates brain development, and helps a baby connect with their caregiver. Looking at your baby, during this time when you are in such close proximity, can help your baby learn who you are, and recognize that they can trust you to be there.
- Change your baby’s diapers. Diaper changes are another great way that you can develop an attachment bond with your baby, creating a relationship of care and love.
- Talk to and play with your baby. Even if your baby doesn’t understand what you’re saying yet, they can understand that you care through the way you speak to them. It helps them to recognize that you are a secure base and safe haven in their circle of security.
- Respond to your baby’s cues. Your baby can’t explicitly say what they need or want, but they do have ways of communicating what they are feeling. They make sounds, facial expressions, and exhibit other behaviors. As you spend time holding and looking at your baby, you can learn to be responsive to these signals. In turn your baby will sense your responsiveness and develop trust towards you.
While it may be easier or seem more natural to let moms take on most of the care of babies, dads play an important role in caring for and nurturing our little ones. By taking the time to engage with their babies, they can develop a strong attachment relationship that can last a lifetime.
Check out these related posts for more tips and ideas on how to develop a strong bond with your baby!