Attachment and bonding – the father’s role
Attachment with the father is equally as important as the attachment with the mother and contributes greatly to a child’s development. Some studies have shown that a high quality father-child relationship allows a child to take his explorations a little further. Fathers can do activities with their baby to promote attachment, whether or not they are the main caregiver. Here are some suggestions:
- Use a baby carrier as much as possible. Men’s physique usually allows them to carry an older, heavier baby than a woman can.
- Lie down with your new-born on your chest. Your heartbeat will help your baby develop trust.
- Take a bath with your baby. Physical contact is important. If another person is present, he or she can take the baby to dress him when he comes out of the bath.
- Provide the same affectionate responses, routines and positive discipline as the other parent, so the child feels safe, no matter which parent is looking after him.
- Don’t hesitate to show affection to your baby or toddler.
- Support a breastfeeding mother because breastfeeding is ideal for the baby. Look for other opportunities to spend quality time with your baby, by bringing the baby to the mother or burping him afterwards.
- Encourage your toddler to challenge himself by developing his physical skills (climbing, jumping, etc.). Supervise him carefully but, most importantly, make him feel good for his efforts.
- Act as a role model for your child in your intimate relationship and with those around you.
- Consider taking parental leave to spend time with your baby and build your confidence for parenting alone.
- Spend time alone with your baby. Start with just a few minutes at a time if you are hesitant, and then increase the time. If you don’t want to be too far away from the mother, just take your baby outside or into another room.
- Find out about the community resources available for new parents, for example Parent & Toddler groups.
- Watch the mother for signs of exhaustion or depression especially if she is the main caregiver. These could affect her ability to provide quality care. If you are concerned, talk to a doctor, a public health nurse or a community health nurse about it.
- If your work takes you away from home for long periods of time, make sure you spend quality time with your child during which you learn to recognize her cues and reactions.
- Don’t hesitate to get help if you feel overwhelmed and if your baby cries constantly. Never shake a baby.
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