There is a lot of research out there about the importance of a mother's bond with her baby, and as a result, dads can sometimes feel a bit left out in this department. But with Father's Day coming up, there are some ways dads can bond with their baby, and some new data, that may interest parents. According to a new study published in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing (JOGNN), it's just as important for dad to be involved. The study suggests that successful father-infant bonding during the immediate postpartum period has been shown to have several benefits for the infant. Namely reducing cognitive delay, promoting weight gain, and improving breastfeeding rates.
And in yet another study, according to Science Daily, researchers looked at how fathers interacted with their babies at 3 months of age and measured the infants' cognitive development more than a year later. They found that babies whose fathers were more engaged and active when playing with them in their initial months performed better in cognitive tests at 2 years of age. Nice work, dads.
And mom, this post is for you, too. In an article for Time magazine, researchers said lack of involvement from new fathers may be caused by “maternal gatekeeping,” a habit some mothers exhibit of controlling the access to and handling of a baby. While studies show fathers are more involved in the lives of their children now than they've ever been, the truth is encouragement from day one goes a long way. Food for thought as you venture out into this whole new world of parenting. And to all the new dads out there, Happy Father's Day with these five tips for bonding.
1. Start Early
Pediatrician David Hill, author of Between Us Dads: A Father's Guide to Child Health, told WebMD that fathers should, "Go to OB appointments, ultrasound visits, and breastfeeding classes. Become intimately involved with the process because mothers who feel more supported by fathers tend to involve the fathers more with child-rearing later on. And more involved means more likely to bond."
Studies by the National Institute of Health (NIH) have shown the many positives of skin-to-skin contact with mother and child, and this is just as important for father's bonding with baby. While the health benefits of "kangeroo care" for baby are many, according to the Cleveland Clinic, the action also promotes the release of oxytocin (the "feel good" hormone). The shift in hormones creates a positive response in fathers allowing him to better bond with baby.
3. Jump in
By jumping in, dads, I mean jump in: that's helping out with feedings, changing diapers, burping, initiating baths, and calming baby when they're upset. Remember that the more you hold and care for your baby, the more comfortable and natural it will feel. Find something that is your special activity with baby, whether it's reading a book together before bedtime or being the tummy time coach. Develop a routine and you'll both look forward to that time together.
4. Wear Your Baby
By trying out a baby carrier, dads can keep baby close which promotes bonding, while being hands-free to get things done around the house. There are many baby carriers that are great for dads, so don't be afraid to get out there with baby. Makes it easier find other dad friends at the playground, too.
5. Get Silly
Some might say this is the easiest way for dad to bond with their baby (and I think they're right). Go on, dads, your new role gives you full license to make silly faces and sounds, play peek-a-boo, and sing songs for your audience of one. Make your silly time together part of your daily routine and feel free to celebrate when you finally get a laugh as a result of your efforts.