Partners and Bonding with the Baby
There is a stigma that a partner won’t have the same level of bonding that a primary or birthing person may have with a new baby. While there is a specific form of bonding that occurs in childbirth, breastfeeding, and caregiving; that is not to discredit the special bonding that occurs within a partner. In fact, the beauty of parenting is the parental bond is unique for each caregiver is unique to the baby. How one parent tends to, entertains, and comforts the baby will be different from how the other parent instinctively tends to, entertains, and comforts the baby. Finding one’s footing in parenting stems from finding confidence within oneself, having constant communication with the other parent, and keeping cool when energies are charged.
Bonding in Feedings
When a baby is breastfed, bonding can feel challenging to a partner. The visual bonding of the baby and the feeder are beautiful. As the partner, witnessing the closeness, caring, and caressing they can feel “left out”. However, that doesn’t have to be the case!
With bottle feedings, bondings can be just as special. For many families that bottle-feed, they also want that closeness and bonding during the feeds. Implementing a pattern that is similar to breastfeeding is simple to receive the desired outcome.
Holding the baby while feeding and not propping up the bottle is not only for safety but also for that bonding component. Gazing into the eyes of the wee babe is another bonding moment to take advantage of. Newborns can only see 4-12 inches in their first month of life. Therefore, holding the baby close and looking at each other allows the baby to study, and get to know the face and features of their caregiver. Talk, sing, play, or comment on the show you’re watching with the baby are ways to make this time special for the both of you.
Ways to Bond That Don’t Include Feedings
The beautiful thing is that bonding is about more than simply how a baby feeds. In fact, there are plenty of opportunities for a partner to get involved and develop a relationship with the baby that’s all their own. In general, the primary parent takes the majority of caregiving, but that doesn’t have to always be the case. Jumping in and taking over soothing duties when a baby is sad or upset or feeling big emotions can build a foundation of trust and comfort. These are things that can also build confidence in a partner when they are feeling inadequate about being able to provide feedings.
Bathing is my favorite way to build a relationship and bond with the baby. This playful, and relaxing time is a great way to build confidence in the partner and trust in the baby. Bath time is a magical time that can manifest in many ways. What’s most important is that is implemented safely, and that it’s enjoyable for all parties during the session. Keep all the items handy and within reach. Have towels ready to scoop up a shivering babe, and keep a hand and eye on the baby at all times.
Be creative and dedicate time each day to spend with the baby. This can look like a myriad of many ways! Maybe it’s a stroll around the neighborhood in the stroller or baby carrier. Maybe it’s watching a show or sports game together. It could be dancing before dinner or before or after nap-time. A dance party is always a great time! Enlist a favorite pastime or hobby that will be “your thing” as the baby ages. In many cases, traditions are born organically. Whatever it is, this is a prime opportunity to enjoy the role as a parent and build memories that are special to a partner and the baby specifically.
Partners Get to Build Their Own Relationships
Understand that there are many ways to bond with a baby, just as much as there are ways to feed a baby. The fun part is that babies don’t judge, they just want to be loved. Keep that in mind when learning how to parent and bond with the baby in one’s own and genuine way. Hire the support of our postpartum & infant care doulas for a one-on-one crash course on baby antics and helping a partner find their parenting-style.