When a newborn enters a family, it can be difficult for Mom and Dad to feel like they're both getting equal time and providing equal care for the baby. Mothers have an intense physical and emotional bond with their children, one that comes from carrying them for nine months; it's a bond that's hard for fathers to rival. But caring for baby shouldn't turn into a competition that leads to feelings of exclusion and inadequacy. Fathers can create a bond that's equally as strong by committing to staying involved.
Parenting expert Kathy Lynn says that often, dads just aren't given the chance to help out with a new baby. "Every time baby fusses, Mom picks her up even though it's not always about needing to feed," Lynn says. "So, just like a new mom, Dad needs to spend time with the baby."
Lynn offers the following 10 tips to help fathers connect with their children.
1. Just do it! Lynn recommends jumping in with both feet from the moment your baby arrives. "Hold the baby, cuddle him, rock him," she says. Physical closeness will help your baby to recognize your touch and the sound of your voice. This will lead to trust and will provide your baby with a sense of safety and security.
2. Trust yourself. "Moms are just as nervous at first, although they often don't show it," says Lynn. "Just because baby doesn't stop crying immediately does not mean you are making a mistake."
3. Spend time alone with baby. Without an audience, you may feel more confident and will figure out what works and what doesn't work more quickly.
4. Attend a parenting workshop or course with your wife or partner so you can learn together.
5. Go to your baby's first checkup. Staying informed and educated will help you to feel more involved and less in the dark.
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6. Don't leave all the reading to Mom. Choose some of your favourite childhood stories and read them to your baby. Story time is a wonderfully intimate way to spend time with your child.
7. Talk to her, sing to her, dance with her. It's easier than it seems, Lynn says. "It doesn't have to be classic songs. Whatever you like is just fine as long as you are looking at her," she says. "Put on your favourite songs and dance around the living room with her in your arms."
8. Assume responsibility for routine chores. "Give him his evening bath or take him for a walk after dinner," Lynn suggests. This will not only provide you with extra one-on-one time with your baby, but will also give Mom a much-needed break.
9. Feed him. "Have your wife express her milk (if she's nursing) so you can give a bottle of mother's milk," says Lynn. "Or be the one who gets up at night and gets baby, gives her to Mom and then after the feed you burp and change him."
10. Have a positive attitude. "You are both parents, so do the job together," says Lynn. "If you are at work and Mom is home on maternity leave, realize that from the moment you come home you are now parenting with her. You have both been working hard all day...now you do it together."
Kathy Lynn is a professional speaker, author and columnist. Kathy offers keynote addresses and workshops to parents and professionals who want to learn how to raise responsible children. She is the author of the bestselling Who's In Charge Anyway? and of But Nobody Told Me I'd Ever Have to Leave Home.Visit her website at www.parentingtoday.ca.
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