Sometimes father baby bonding takes a little longer to develop than it does with mom. That’s completely normal!
It’s also normal for moms to struggle when their baby cries with dad. But it’s extremely important for fathers to get involved and bond!
Strong father-child relationships can be very beneficial and healthy for both parties. Plus, moms deserve a break to recharge and take a shower every now and then!
So let’s talk about father baby bonding.
How can dads bond with newborn? Is father baby bonding important? How do I get my baby to stop crying with his dad?
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Help encourage that father baby bond with these great tips:
In This Guide:
Tips and Tricks for Father Baby Bonding
Skin To Skin
We typically think of holding baby skin to skin as a “mom thing” since it can promote breastfeeding, but it is a great way for dads to bond with baby too!
Skin to skin contact has many benefits for infants regardless of whether it is with mom or dad, like helping to regulate their temperature, heart rate, and breathing.
Dads also experience hormonal changes (like moms) while holding their newborns skin to skin helping to establish that bond.
Feeding can be a perfect bonding time since dad is fulfilling a need for baby.
If you’re bottle feeding, then this should be pretty easy. For breastfeeding moms, it can admittedly feel a bit like a nuisance. Does anyone actually like pumping???
One upside though could be that you pump before going to bed and let dad take the night feeding.
You can also try to get dad involved without him doing the actual feeding by having him bring baby to mom and burp them afterwards.
Give Them Space To Bond
Let dad and child have some time for father baby bonding without you.
When baby is crying with dad it is too easy to just swoop in and take over. Also, your hovering around can put a lot of pressure on dad.
No one likes to feel under a microscope while they’re trying to soothe their baby.
Give them a chance to connect together. This is a perfect opportunity for you to get out of the house, go shopping, get a haircut, or go to the dentist… you know, go wild.
Let Dad Be Dad
Bite your tongue and unless there is an actual, legit safety problem, hold back any criticism.
Some moms find it hard to let go of the control.
It’s me. I’m “some moms”. But I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Your partner may not do things the same way that you do and that’s ok. Seriously, it’s ok.
Undermining dad at every turn can erode his confidence in his parenting and ultimately make it more challenging for him and baby to be comfortable with each other.
Let dad figure out what works best for him and baby. For instance, dad may find a totally different technique for soothing baby than you use.
Dad can handle the dirty business of diaper changes to bond with baby.
Since newborns don’t actually do that much besides eat and sleep, there can feel like limited opportunity to connect. Not only does this fill an important need, but diaper changes are an ideal time for interacting with young infants since they are usually alert.
Dad can talk to them, tickle their tummy, and make silly faces while cleaning up the mess.
Bath time can be a great opportunity for father baby bonding!
Many newborns learn to love baths. They’re warm, cozy, and relaxing.
Let dad provide this ultimate comfort for baby and it’s a surefire way to develop a close relationship.
Many times, carrying baby around in a carrier will make them feel “included” in the activity even if the activity doesn’t directly involve baby.
Jobs like vacuuming or sweeping are a win-win: chores get done + baby and dad bond!
Dad can also try talking to baby to narrate what he’s doing, where he is, what colors he sees, and more.
Read about the best carriers in All Things Carrying Baby
What to Do if Baby Cries With Dad
Babies are likely to keep thinking about mom even when they’re not in sight. After all, many of baby’s comforts and needs are met by mom.
One of the biggest hurdles to father baby bonding is when baby cries with dad.
The sound of baby crying is like nails on a chalkboard. Most parents will do anything to stop it. Which sometimes means giving up on daddy time and surrendering the baby back to mom.
So let’s talk about why baby cries with dad and what to do about it!
Let’s start by hearing from an actual dad:
As a dad who has sent “hurry the f%*$ up” texts to mom before when she was simply trying to take a shower, I want to say that the struggle is 50% real and 50% dad-needs-to-suck-it-up and figure-it-out.
It clicked for me when I realized the sound of the crying was like a tornado warning in my head that I couldn’t turn off and it made me feel entirely helpless, the anger was more at myself since there was nothing I could do.
Since then I’ve realized that all I can do is all I can do and sometimes they will just… cry.
I still feel the anger creep up sometimes when I’m exasperated but it goes away when I accept that I am doing everything I can. So far our children have not cried themselves to death and are otherwise happy and healthy!
Side note: the worst thing moms could possibly do is make dads feel dumb for not getting a bay to stop crying. We’re trying our best!
Let it Come From Dad
So I think there are a couple important bits from the dad comment above. Most importantly, that teaching baby not to cry with dad and starting the father baby bonding process has to come from dad, not mom.
It’s ok to talk to dad about it, or even strongly suggest it. But if he’s not self-motivated, it won’t be successful.
Remember to never bring up tough issues with your partner in the heat of the moment. It’s better to pick a time you are both relaxed, in good spirits, and well fed.
Make Sure the Time is Right
It is very important to first make sure that baby’s needs are well-taken care of before handing off to dad. Make sure baby is well-fed, changed, rested, and happy.
When a baby is crying it’s hard to think of anything. Much less get creative with ways to cheer baby up!
Brainstorm with dad to create a list of ideas for when baby cries. This way he can just turn to the list for inspiration, distraction, and father bonding ideas.
Here are a few to get you started:
- Sing a song
- Go on a walk in the stroller
- Try the baby carrier
- Read books
- Go for a car ride
- Bath or water play
- Talk to baby about things in the room
- Play with toys
- Look out a window
Teach the Return
Remember that until baby learns about object permanence (the ability to comprehend that objects still exist even if they are no longer in sight), they’ll be afraid Mom is gone forever if she leaves the room.
Help ease separation anxiety by teaching baby that you can and will come back.
Start by plopping baby in a playpen/safe space with an interesting toy. Tell them you’ll be back in one minute, step away out of sight, then come back in one minute.
And keep repeating this with longer time intervals. Try to mix in a few hand offs to dad for a couple of them.
When you can successfully leave the room for a few minutes, try to “leave” the house through the front door (again, starting with one minute).
This shouldn’t be done over one day, but rather over multiple days.
In no time, baby will start to realize mom is always coming back and there’s no reason to cry simply because she’s not there.
Try Another Caregiver
If dad is struggling getting baby to stop crying on his watch, consider adding another caregiver.
Get grandma to help dad out, or even an experienced nanny. Sometimes we just need outside help to look at things from a different perspective.
Another idea is to join a baby playgroup for dad and child to attend together and get some tips.
How is father baby bonding going for your family? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!