When my son was born, family and friends naturally celebrated his arrival. He was showered with smiles, kisses and an abundance of compliments. And, let’s not forget the never-ending presents.
I certainly felt a connection to fatherhood. The feeling to protect my family, and the overwhelming joy of becoming a dad were powerful, palpable emotions. Somehow, though, I felt (dare I say it) apathetic. Of course now, even I can’t believe this is an emotion I was felt toward my son.
What happened exactly? It can’t be pinpointed to any particular moment, but more so a collection of moments – some big, most inconsequential, but all played a part in helping me form a lasting and incomprehensible bond. You see, it’s harder for dad and baby to bond because mom and baby get bonding time during gestation. In fact, I’m not convinced babies know dads even exist in the first six months. That’s why I believe it is so important to work on that father-son bond, which prompted me to jot down some ideas that are worth trying to help the bonding process, and that helped me and my son, Logan. If any of this sounds familiar to you, take a read.
- Interact as much as possible
Make a silly face. Stick out your tongue. Smile. Laugh. Read a book and point out pictures on the pages. Even if you’re only receiving slight responses (that in all likelihood are just gas), it can make the experience more real, and is making more of an impact than you realize for both of you.
- One-on-one time
The time I spent alone with my son exponentially sped up my bonding process because I had no one to fall back on when the going got tough. This can be difficult in some relationship dynamics if mom likes to keep baby on a routine, but if mom is open to a more liberal deviation from the schedule that allows for the bonding to flourish without specific requirements, this time can be extremely impactful.
- Be uncomfortable together
I’ve found some of life’s best growing moments come when you put yourself in an uncomfortable situation. One of the most memorable bonding experiences I had with my son was when I walked to a local market and had put my son in a forward-facing pack. I felt self-conscious at first, and really uncomfortable (both mentally and physically – I had it set up wrong and his dangling feet kept kicking me exactly where you don’t want to be kicked). The whole experience made it more real for me and as a result the daddy / son bonding began.
- Bath time
Get some fun bath toys and rev up your best toy voices, but make sure to leave your embarrassment at the bathroom door. Luckily, your little one won’t judge.
- Play time
Things get busy and you find yourself juggling a lot as a new dad, but do what you can to have playtime together even if you only have time for 15 minutes between arriving home from work and bedtime.
- Let nature happen
Sometimes just hanging out on the couch doing nothing can do the trick. Often I’d just turn on a game or simply do what I wanted to be doing and the next thing I knew I was waking up with my son on my chest fast asleep. Sometimes magic happens when you let it come to you.
- Mom simulations
Some dads find bonding benefits in the child-rearing activities, like bottle feeding while simulating the position of breastfeeding, night-feedings, diapers, putting the child to bed and others. I’ve heard they’ve worked for others, so worth a try!
Everyone is different, but hopefully these tips will help you along as you build your bonding path. At the very least, I hope you can find sanctuary that you aren’t the only new dad who is trying to figure this all out.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored and Steve received a discount.