Expectant dads often wonder what their role will be when the baby arrives and what they can do to bond with baby, especially if mommy will be breastfeeding. Breastfeeding creates a very strong bond between mother and child and dads often feel left out or that their relationship with the little one is not as strong as mom's.
I strongly believe that daddy should share the responsibility of caring for the baby.
Many of the older generation men believe that taking care of the babies are the wives' job, as they spend their days working and providing for the family. They are thus tired when they return from work and need to rest.
Firstly, lots of mothers work as well, so that argument is moot. Secondly, even if you are a stay at home mom, there are women who kiss their husbands goodbye each morning to leave the house and go to be an au-pair or nanny as their career. Just because I don't need to drive somewhere to start my day, doesn't mean I don't work just as hard. I may have baked the bread but half the ingredients are his, parenting is 50/50.
I strongly believe that daddy should share the responsibility of caring for the baby. I have been blessed with an amazing husband who shares the responsibilities and who enjoys spending a lot of time with his little girl.
Their daddy and daughter activities include:
Diaper changes, both wet and dirty diapers (lots of dads bail on those dirty diapers). If daddy is back from work, he usually changes half the diapers. In the early days when she used to feed every 2 hours, he would change her diaper and then hand her over to me for her feeds. We usually tackle the dirty diapers together, as it mostly is a messy two-man job ;)
When she was younger, he would also burp her in the middle of her feeds and afterwards. Dads are usually much more efficient at getting those winds out. This was a wonderful way for him to support our breastfeeding and to assist. The first 6 weeks he also got up with me for the evening feeds.
My favorite is when he takes her to go play in the living room on Saturday mornings so that mommy can have a lie in. This is so amazing, especially if you have been breastfeeding right through the night and just need some consecutive hours of sleep.
Reading stories to her is also a favorite activity. He recently got himself stuck with reading the whole story of Beauty and the Beast, as he thought it was just a toddler version of the story with 3 sentences per page. He soon found out his mistake when it turned out to be the full story book and he couldn't just leave her wondering how it ends! (Keep in mind she is 6 months old and probably wouldn't have cared too much if he stopped half way hahaha)
They also play with her toys on the play mat, on the bed and in the cot. He even does funny voices and sounds.
He keeps her entertained while mommy quickly showers, then prepares her for her shower, brings her to mommy to be showered, collects her afterwards and proceeds to dry her, apply her lotion and dress her while mommy quickly dries and dresses. Then I take her for her bed time nursing session while he jumps in the shower.
If she is very fussy while going through a wonder week or growth spurt and doesn't want to go down for her early evening nap (she is usually nursed to sleep), then he will take her and walk with her through the house or rock her until she is asleep. He will also let her take her nap on his chest if she doesn't want to settle on the bed.
Daddies can also sing! He makes up silly songs and sings to her for entertainment. They also dance around the house to made-up songs or songs that he only knows half the words to.
Now that she has started to eat, Baby Led Weaning style where she feeds herself, she would have her snack with him and he will clean up after her, as it does get very messy. For family meal times when mom also eats, I am usually the one doing the cleaning up.
If we are getting ready to go out, he will pack her diaper bag if I am busy feeding her and also pack all the necessities in the car so long. If we are running late and I still have to get ready, he will dress her while I do my hair and make-up.
If we are out visiting friends, we will take turns entertaining her and also take turns eating if she doesn't want to be put down.
Dads also give lots of hugs, kisses and tickles!
If your baby has a bottle, that is also something dad can do that will give them some time to bond. Remember that pumping before 6 weeks is not advised and to always do Paced Bottle Feeding with a breastfeeding baby.
I know that not all husbands are as amazing as the one I have been blessed with, but this article is just to show you that there are many ways for dads to bond with their babies. This may also prove to you that maybe you should hold your man to a higher standard, as it clearly is possible for a man to be involved in the day to day tasks of taking care of a baby and to have a good relationship with his child.