When it comes to bonding with a new baby, there's no doubt that mothers have a running start. After all, it's often Mom who is with the baby all day (and often all night) during those first critical months. But that doesn't mean fathers can't have an equally satisfying bonding experience with their infants.
Stereotypically, fathers take the role of material providers for their children's allowance, gas money, college tuition, etc. But the truth is that the most valued investment a father makes isn't financial at all. It's the deposit of time, attention, and touch early on in a child's life. Bonding with a baby doesn't have to be complicated. Here are some simple ways dads can connect with a new little life.
Be there from the beginning. Once your precious child has made his appearance, take a moment to hold and greet your treasure. The first arms to hold each of my three daughters were mine. Even though they don't have a conscious memory of that touch, I do. And that initial touch has motivated my desire to express physical affection ever since.
Volunteer for the night shift. My wife breast-fed our girls, so I couldn't supply their demand for a midnight snack. But I could stumble down the dark hallway to the nursery and carry the baby back to my wife in our bed. Once our girls took a bottle, I was able to take a more active role. There is nothing quite like rocking a newborn, smelling that sweet baby smell, and providing your little one with needed nourishment.
Strap them on. Arms are great but so are contraptions. If I had to choose between the stroller and the Snuggli, I'd opt for the Snuggli. There's just something special about going for a walk with your child cinched up tight against your chest. When I carried my daughters close to me, I felt as if they could sense the affection that flooded my heart.
Bring on the tickle monster. I can still hear the uncontrolled giggles from my girls as they rolled around the floor on their blankets. With my well-aimed fingers, I found the tickle spot on their tummies and would laugh along while lying beside them. Even the youngest babies will respond to tickles, caresses, and kisses on their backs, tummies, and toes.
Pray with your baby. Have your quiet time with your baby by your side and pray scripture that will help you take on the role of leader in your home. Let your baby know early on that prayer and God's Word are essential in your life.
Copyright © 2001 by the author or Christianity Today/Christian Parenting Today Magazine.
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