First time dads: importance of bonding with your baby

Becoming a new dad can be a steep learning curve, but it's really important to get your hands dirty and develop a close bond with your baby. Here's why. 

Has your baby arrived yet? Just for a moment try to picture them in 10 or 20 years. Is your child happy and healthy? Have they done well at school? Do you have a close relationship with your child?   
 
Incredibly, a recent survey from Save the Children suggests all of those things can be helped by one simple action - being involved in your child’s life. For new dads this kicks off from conception. 

Talk to your skipper

One of the best things you can do as a new dad is to simply be there for your partner in those first weeks. And that may mean taking some time off work. 

There are a variety of parental leave options for dads, and more dads than ever are taking advantage of them. So speak to your boss about what options are open to you well in advance of your child’s birth. 

Step up to the crease

Being a hands-on dad isn’t automatic. Like any skill worth learning, you need to jump in and practise. 

Many dads start with practical tasks like bathing, feeding and nappy changes. These tasks are good options for new dads because you can spend some precious one-on-one time with your child, whilst giving your partner an opportunity to take a much needed break. Maybe to catch up on some sleep or shower, or run an errand or simply enjoy some time off. 

When you’re spending one-on-one time with bub, do a running commentary as you wash or change them. You might feel a little silly but every word adds to his or her future language development.
Dad about to change his baby's nappy

Babies don’t know the phrase ‘after hours’

If your partner thought she was tired during pregnancy, the first weeks and months at home will probably put that into perspective. 

If you can help play a part on the parenting late shift, you can help your partner to  get some desperately-needed rest. It’s also another chance to spend time alone with your baby, and practise those skills like changing nappies and settling them to sleep. 

The more you do, the stronger your bond will be with your baby (and your partner!). 

Looking ahead to the future

Save the Children also found that fathers who form a strong bond with their baby are more likely to be involved in their child's lives as they grow up. 

You’ll be amazed at how much influence you can have in the years ahead. For example, Save the Children found that a father’s choices – health or unhealthy - could have a direct impact on those of their children. Children whose fathers were overweight or obese were up to 15 times more likely to become overweight or obese themselves. 
 
In the past, being a good father of a newborn was all about ‘lending a hand’. But now, more dads are becoming keenly involved in more of a ‘team like’ approach. 

Becoming a new parent can be quite a learning curve, but there are many benefits for you, your child and your partner on getting involved, developing great relationships, and showing your support. 
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