5 ways to get early father-child bonding off to a great start

It's true that when people think of new babies the first thought is how the mother and child are getting on. Whilst this is so very important, it's vital we don't forget to acknowledge what's going on with father and baby too.

1) Ensure you have the right information about your paternity leave entitlement and take full advantage of your allocated time off.

Many families are still not aware that parental leave can be shared between both mother and father these days so before baby arrives make sure you and your partner have explored all the possible outcomes and make the choice that is right for you.

There is specific guidance on how long you can take and when your time together can begin. For more information about paternity leave, shared leave and pay entitlements check out the Government website.

2) Optimise those moments when mummy needs to rest.

You will sure make a happy mummy and earn those brownie points by taking baby whilst the new mum is recovering and healing, but why not use this time to plan special memories with your new babe? Whether this be going for a walk or a drive or simply playing on the carpet, get as involved as you can and time it well.

3) Change your mindset about dirty tasks like nappies and bathing.

Unfortunately these things just need doing, so instead of arguing over whose turn it is to change the nappy or wash your newborn, why not acknowledge it as a perfect time to bond. During these boring every day tasks your newborn will learn about touch, develop trust and relationships and begin to get a sense of how the world around them works. It is important that you dads get to be a part of this too.

4) Skin to Skin.

This beautiful bonding experience is not new, nor is the research around its health benefits for mother and child, but what isn't as widely acknowledged is that there is absolutely no reason fathers cannot be sharing in the beauty of this experience.

Skin to skin can be used when a little one is too hot/cold, when they are teething or after immunisations to help moderate their temperature. It can also support their breathing and offer soothing to upset children as both parties create the hormones needed to feel loved and relaxed.

Even if your newborn is being breastfed by mum, or not yet taking a bottle, why not get shirtless and have a skin to skin cuddle whilst baby rests or share a bath together?

5) Dads clubs and baby massage.

Check out what services are on offer in your local area, there are many organisations now recognising the importance of supporting fathers through this life changing time too.

Many children centres offer targetted daddy groups (some even offer free bacon sarnies as an incentive to attend), including father friendly baby massage.

Infant massage is another wonderful bonding experience whereby new parents are taught proven massage strokes to help babes with bonding, sleep and minor ailments like colic and snotty noses.

As a certified infant massage Instructor myself, this is the one I urge all mothers AND fathers to take the time to learn. I have done so with both my children and even at the ages of 5 and 11, they still often request a bedtime massage. Just lovely :)

In this day and age when both sexes are working, sharing finances and household chores, parenting is even more an important role to be shared between a successful partnership. Not only does it support and offer your other half some down time, but it tells your newborn they are just as important to you as they are to mum, whilst also setting a lovely example of shared parenting to other siblings.

So get involved, enjoy these precious moments and get that early father-child bonding off to a great start.