There is no doubt that the bond between mother and child is profound and essential. But the bond between baby and father is just as meaningful, and while it can be profoundly different than the maternal bond, it is often just as essential to the well being of the child.
The father of a baby is often overwhelmed with the birth of his first child. His heart is bursting with love and his head is bursting with questions. He wants desperately to help, but how can his huge hands be careful enough with such a tiny package? And how does the Mommy seem to know exactly what to do all the time while he’s so confused? What is his role in this new creation’s life? His role is simple, yet complex. He is the Daddy.
Traditionally, at least according to television and movies, the father’s role was to head off to the office in the morning, and come home for a few hours of play and dinner in the evening. He was the primary breadwinner and left 98% of parenting to the mother. His 2% comprised of playing catch on the weekends and delivering a few lectures and occasional spankings when warranted.
While this can still work for some families, it is far from the role most fathers play today. Thanks to paternity leave and true co-parenting,
fathers are just as involved in their children’s lives as the children’s mother – sometimes even more so if they become the primary care giver!
Gone are the days of dad’s bumbling over a dirty diaper or struggling to make a bottle of formula. Dads can easily take on as much responsibility as moms, and they can be just as nurturing. There is little art to changing diapers or making bottles, and rocking a baby is fun and relaxing for both parents. And it may just be that the baby actually prefers the large warmth of her father at times. Not only does this give Mom a break, it gives Dad a chance to bond with his baby.
Some of the best bonding with babies is while they are resting. Hold the baby in your arms and just watch her expressions. Maybe make a few of your own and see if she’ll respond. Dads are also great at helping babies with upset stomachs or colic calm down. Lay the baby’s tummy on your arm with her head in your hand. Dangle her legs and arms on either side. Hold her close to your body like you’re running football. This puts pressure on her tummy with her head nicely supported. If you jiggle your arm just a bit, you might also soon discover you have a sleeping baby in your hands – literally.
As baby gets a bit older, Dads seem to come up with some of the best baby games. They make faces, speak in silly voices, help baby to “fly” and are great at tickling and making baby laugh. They also have the perfect chest for baby to rest on when all this play gets too be tiring.
Finally, even Dads that find these sorts of things don’t come naturally shouldn’t worry. Studies have shown that babies physically relax when they see a picture of their mothers. Mothers are calming and babies will often be peaceful in their presence. In contrast, when babies see a picture of their father, their energy level increasing, their attention perks ups and they become excited. Apparently, Dad has a special place in baby’s life – he represents the fun and enthusiasm. So enjoy your special role and play with your baby no matter her age. She loves every minute of it, and soon you’ll discover that you are, too.
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