Everyone knows the bond between a mother and her baby is intense, a bond of pure love and necessity. Many times new dads can feel left out of the bonding experience, creating tension in the relationship and leading to feelings of inadequacy. As a dad, you can't make breastmilk on demand—but there are other ways you can be involved with baby. Dad glow extends beyond dirty diapers and late night feedings when mom is catching up on ZZZ's.
Here are seven ways you can feel more involved and increase your paternal satisfaction—and glow like mama does.
• Skin to skin. Baby is happiest when connecting skin-to-skin with mom or dad. His temperature, heart and breathing rates will be more consistent, and his blood sugar more stable. It also allows baby to get familiar with your scent and your heartbeat becomes a soothing beat for the little one. Spend time bonding, lounge around in your boxers and let baby rest on your chest while you're watching TV (just be sure it's not the playoffs—you don't want to startle the baby!).
• Play games. Make silly faces, play peek-a-boo and sing songs for baby. Set aside regular time for baby, whether it's after work or in the morning. Appoint a special time that's just for you and the little one, so as baby grows, this special bonding time becomes part of the daily routine.
• Glow time. Glow time is an important concept that I introduce through my book, Mama Glow: A Hip Guide to Your Fabulous Abundant Pregnancy. It's all about taking personal time to lavish yourself and shine! While mom is taking some alone time to shine and do what she loves, you can have glow time with baby. This could be a bathtime ritual where you shut off phones and dim the lights and enjoy a nice soak with baby, or massage baby using a nice jojoba oil or calendula baby cream to relax your little one and prepare for bedtime, so you and mom can have some glow time of your own. You can also hit the streets to take a nice walk outside or a mild hike with baby in a carrier. Babies love the stimulation of being outside and in the comfort of your arms.
• Take charge. Mom may like things done a certain way and may even school you on how to handle certain tasks when it comes to baby, like how to warm a bottle, change a diaper or comfort baby. But you'll develop your own way of doing these things. Rather than let mom step in and "correct you" and show you repeatedly how to do it her way, just keep practicing, and you'll learn your own technique and shortcuts for newborn care. Communicating that you're fine with handling baby and taking the initiative without having to be asked is always great too. Plus, it gives you more one-on-one time with baby.
• Slay your checklists. Mom will have a list of things that need to get done and feel overwhelmed at the thought of trying to get through the list. Ask her to delegate some of those tasks to you so you can complete them. When you're able to satisfy her needs and help reduce her stress load by checking off some of her to-do-list, she'll be thrilled—and when mom is happy, everyone is happy. This also satisfies your desire to feel needed, because believe me, although she may be madly in love with a new man who's 7 pounds 11 ounces and 20 inches long, she needs and wants you around.
• Keep it movin'. Babies are used to movement because mom's hips were always moving when they were still in the womb. They feel soothed by movement and grow to have fun with it as well. Whether you're doing baby bench presses with your infant or daddy dance party, getting baby to giggle while you're moving him around is great. Movement also helps increase baby's muscle tone and trains baby's proprioceptors (aka his sense of self in relation to space).
• Find a dad posse. Find other cool dads who share a similar philosophy, have kids the same age or just provide a listening ear. You may just need to bond with other men who are going through what you are. Having a sense of community and knowing you're not alone is key. Being a new father can be an isolating experience—but certainly doesn't have to be.
Whether you're a new dad or a veteran in the baby game, it's always good to learn some new tips to sharpen your skills, build your confidence and boost your bond with baby.