Some dads fall in love with their babies as soon as they see them, but that isn’t everyone’s experience. If your baby seems like a stranger, you needn’t panic. Love at first sight is by no means common and, like all relationships, the bond between father and child takes time to develop.
Lots of new dads feel under pressure to make all the right noises, but the reality of fatherhood can be different to your expectation. You may feel like a bit of a spare part too, particularly in the first few weeks when it seems to be all about mother and baby. Though it may be tough to admit to it, a little jealousy is completely natural too.
Your bond with your child will grow as you spend more time together and get to know each other better. This will happen naturally over time but there are some things you can do to speed the process along.
It may seem obvious, but try to keep in mind that you are dealing with another human being. Your baby has its own personality and moods, and that character will soon shine through. For many fathers, it doesn’t become clear how much personality babies are born with until the birth of their second child, and the revelation that they are not the same.
So, how do you get to know a new born baby whose whole world seems to revolve around their mum? Here are some top tips:
- Give yourself some credit. Don’t be put off by the fact that most baby products and services are aimed at mothers. Be proud of the important role you play in your baby’s life.
- Don’t worry about how you’re supposed to feel. Becoming a dad is a shock to the system. Let yourself feel whatever you feel. Talk to your partner or a trusted friend; or, ask a professional like your health visitor, or someone from your local Children’s Centre. You could also make a post on Click, as there may be someone reading who has been through something similar to what you’re going through now.
- Take part in the baby’s routine. Get involved with feeding, burping, bathing, cuddling, carrying, changing nappies, and so on. Your involvement with the baby can just as significant as you make it, and this quality time will help you get to know each other.
- Be silly. Sing to your baby, and dance around to your favourite tunes. Invent games, and explore your inner child. You will soon learn what makes your baby smile, and when you do you won’t be able to stop.
- Smile at your baby. It sounds obvious but there is very little more rewarding than seeing your baby smiling toothlessly back at you.
- Hold your baby. Don’t shy away from physical contact. Having a warm baby sleep on your chest is a great way to relax. Cuddles and tickles help build bonds too.