Real Bonding Experiences
Alright, we know that mamas don’t exactly have it easy. Can we talk about dads for a minute though? They are either held to a higher standard or praised for doing something as minuscule as pushing the stroller. What is up with that?! As moms we want the help around the house and with the kids because it IS exhausting. Some of us stay at home, some of us work from home or work outside of the house and yet we still see a stranger and say “he is such a good dad” because he’s feeding his kid out in public. Do we say that when we see another mom feeding her kid? Many of us are all for equality all around, sharing the work load in and out of the home but yet somehow dad STILL gets put on the back burner when it comes to normal parenting tasks or decisions. Now there is certainly a greater variety of family dynamics these days (working mamas, single parents, two mom/dad families and both parents working families) so this will be more beneficial to the parents that aren’t home with their child all day or the parent who doesn’t quite get the extra connection with their child. Bonding shouldn’t be a mom and baby only thing or a when the baby gets older she will like this with dad thing. We need to help dad get that extra bonding with the baby because sometimes he just doesn’t know what to do because society has taught him it isn’t his place. We recently went through an “A only wants mama” stage and even though we were told it was completely normal we decided we didn’t want it to be her normal. So we spent more time focusing on dad and daughter bonding. Here are some things that helped us. Keep in mind T is gone before A wakes up and he usually gets home right before dinner.
#1: Mamas, sometimes you just need to stop. Stop micromanaging dad. Just because you feed the baby with the spoon that “helps baby learn to do it herself” doesn’t mean that dad has to. Your way isn’t the only way. I know sometimes moms have instincts that dads don’t get right away (we did carry the baby around for 9 months) and lots of times we have more time to spend with baby. We learn what makes things easier for us like during diaper changes or what helps us soothe them faster. However there are times I step all over my husband just to tell him how A and I do things together. I do it a lot and it is not fair to him. It’s okay to tell him what works for you and baby, but you need to encourage him to do what works for them. It isn’t always the same.
#2: Skin to skin is not just for mom and baby. I swear this was something A enjoys more with T than she does with me. Often after feeding A, T would take her and just snuggle her til she fell asleep on his chest. She would rarely do that with me in the early months even when we were skin to skin. She just needed her daddy sometimes. It is an amazing thing I love that they have.
#3: Help with feeding when you’re nursing just doesn’t seem possible right? Wrong. You can let dad burp baby or you can pump breast milk and bottle feed. I recommend talking to a lactation specialist to help with picking the right pump, bottle and nipple. If this is something you want or need to do it IS possible to let dad help! You can also let dad snuggle baby after feedings (again skin to skin!) to give you a bit of a break too. If baby is formula fed, dad can bottle feed and burp baby. When moving to solid foods let dad do feedings then too! T almost always feeds A her dinner so they get extra face to face time.
#4: Bath time. Work it in to dad’s nightly routine that he does bath time with the baby! When A was 2 months old I went back to work and T stayed home with A. I looked forward to being able to do bath time everyday. Even when T helped it still made it special that we got that little bit of time together. Now that I stay home and T goes to school all day, he does bath time allowing more time together.
#5: Bedtime routine. In addition to bath time you can have dad and baby create a whole bedtime routine. You can start with a nice warm bath, bottle or feeding (of course mama has to be included if not bottle fed) and then dad could read a book right before bed. (Yes, even when the baby is a newborn.) Establishing a bed time routine actually helped A learn to self soothe and most nights she does better when we let her fall asleep on her own. Some nights she still likes to cuddle up with mom or dad before drifting off to sleep though. You can always talk to your pediatrician and with your husband to do what works best for your family.
#6: Play time with dad is one of A’s favorite things I swear. She just lights up when they play together. At least it seems like it is a little more enjoyed than when I play with her. Different ages means different stages of play time, so make sure it is always age appropriate. When she was a newborn A used to just lay on T’s chest and they would coo at each other back and forth. Now he actually sits on the floor and they interact with her toys and what not. Tummy time was something I always tried to do when I was the one gone all day. We would work it in before bath time, most nights I would just lay on the floor with her encouraging her to look around and follow a rattle or mirror.
#7 One on one days are pretty much my saving grace. If all else fails and it seems like you are doing more harm than good with baby and dad, you can always take a day to yourself. Go run your errands, have some time with your friends and let dad stay home with baby. They can work on ALL of their bonding without hover mom. (I’m seriously the worst hover mom ever.)
We had been doing most of these things without scheduling them in or planning anything out. You may need to adjust for different meals or do a morning routine according to your schedule. When A started her “I only want mama” moments we looked at what we had been doing differently. It turned out T was a little busier with homework or other school related things so I was doing a few more things that he was normally doing. That happens. Life happens. Sometimes it is unavoidable. We just made it a point to make sure if he had those busy days or weeks he got his bonding time in differently. I’m not saying A has completely stopped her all about mama moments, but it happens way less often and her and T get to be closer. Want to share your ideas and tips and tricks? I would LOVE to hear from you! Comment below or connect with us on Facebook!
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