Some dads talk of ‘falling in love’ with their baby as soon as they see them. But if that’s not your experience, don’t panic. Let’s face it, ‘Love at first sight’ is not unheard of, but only happens to a lucky few. The reality is that all relationships take time to develop. Lots of new dads feel under pressure make all the right noises, but under the surface, find the reality of fatherhood a bit of a let down at first. A lot of fathers feel a little bit of a spare part too – the first few weeks can seem all about mother and baby. A little jealousy is completely natural (though not many men would openly admit to it!)
The good news is that a bond will naturally grow over time and the even better news is that you can do some things to speed along the process.
It may seem like an obvious thing to say, but remember that you are dealing with another human being, with their own personality and moods. Sure, the baby might not seem that interesting at first – all that crying, sleeping and feeding – but it doesn’t take long for their character to shine through. Many fathers only fully realize how apparently pre-determined this personality is with the birth of their second child (and the surprise that they are not the identikit version of their firstborn)
But how do you get to know a newborn baby? Especially when their whole world seems to revolve around their mum? Here are some top tips:
- Be proud of the important role you play in your baby’s life. Most baby products and services are aimed at mothers, don’t let that put you off or make you feel less important.
- Don’t spend time worrying about how you feel. Becoming a dad is a shock to the system. Let yourself feel what you feel; there is no need to have guilt over your emotions. Talk to your partner or a trusted friend, or speak to your local Children’s Centre. Alternatively, you could chat to other new parents on thecoupleconnection.net forum as sometimes it’s easier than to someone you know or someone who is involved in some way.
- Be part of the baby’s routine. This both gives your partner a rest, and helps your baby recognize you as the main carer. Feed (or burp, if mum is breastfeeding), bathe, cuddle, carry, change nappies… you can be just as much part of baby’s life as the mother if you choose.
- Be silly. Okay, so you may not like to admit it to your mates – but what better excuse is there for playing than the arrival of your child! If you can sing in the shower, you can sing to the baby. If you like dancing, put on your favorite tunes – don’t think you have to stick to nursery rhymes. You will soon learn what makes a baby smile – and when you do you’ll soon get hooked on it.
- Smile at your baby ….sounds obvious but there is nothing more honest than a baby’s toothless smile – and nothing more rewarding.
- Don’t be afraid of physical contact – having a warm baby sleep on your chest is a great way to relax. Cuddles and tickles help build bonds.