Many expat dads in Hong Kong have the tough task of bonding with a newborn while juggling a regular travel schedule or long work hours. Newborn days are a struggle for everyone. It’s not uncommon for new dads to need some help bonding with their new bundle of love. We sat down with Aliza Carr, an Australian and Hong Kong-registered midwife from Bumpnbub, who gave us seven practical ways new dads can bond with their new bubs.
Skin to Skin
Every midwife or health professional you speak to will generally sing the praises of skin to skin!
Skin to skin is exactly as it suggests, having baby lie naked on your bare chest. Bonding is promoted through uninterrupted contact and has huge benefits for your newborn. This includes regulating bub’s heart rate, temperature, blood sugar and breathing rate. Place bub on your chest, a light blanket over the top, soft music playing and let baby relax and sleep on you. If you are able to do this for 15 minutes or more whenever you can, you will feel yourself become more smitten than ever!
Babywearing promotes bonding. This is because baby is tightly secured to your body in a carrier or wrap. Your little one is able to feel the rhythm of your heartbeat and warmth of your body, which can be extremely comforting.
Research shows that babywearing has many amazing benefits for both you and your baby. It regulates baby’s temperature, blood sugar, breathing and heart rate. It can also encourage early language development skills and results in less crying. In Hong Kong, it is incredibly convenient for you, having both hands free!
There’s nothing quite like having your little one curled up on your lap while you read them a story. Hearing dad’s voice can be very soothing and is another way to create that familiarity. Remember, they often know your voice from being in the womb.
Bathing can often be quite a daunting task for first time parents. If possible, I’d recommend parents to bathe baby together for the first 2 or 3 times so you both feel comfortable with the routine. Babies often love bath time, so this is a fun activity for a new dad and his little one to spend some quality time together.
After bath, dad’s can massage their little one’s. Try watching a simple Youtube video on the best techniques and keep it to a few minutes every night. Massage is known to have incredible benefits. Two of my favorites; an increase in bonding for baby and new dads, as well as a better night’s sleep for bub (which in turn means a better night’s sleep for the family!)
It’s always nice to have a daily routine for dad and bub. This promotes bonding and allows mum some time to herself. It is a time that new dads can look forward to and as bub grows, a time they too can anticipate. This could be something as simple as each night, giving bub a bath, massage, read a bedtime story and put bub to bed. This is also a great way to better learn baby’s cues – hungry, tired, cold etc.
An important part of bonding is feeling included as an active part of parenting from the get go. It can sometimes feel like you are more an observer in the early days. This is especially true if mum is breastfeeding and baby seems to be feeding around the clock.
There are some practical ways that you can continue bonding with your baby, whilst working as a team. These include learning to swaddle bub (dad’s are often very good at this), learning to burp and soothe your baby, and changing nappies. You can also support mum while she’s feeding. All of these actions will help to feel an increase in connection as a family unit.
We know those early newborn days can be utterly exhausting and overwhelming. However, in years’ to come, as cliche will have it, you’ll look back and remember the smell of your little one’s skin on your chest and those cute bath time giggles. If you need some help or advice from a midwife in Hong Kong, contact Aliza bumpnbub.com/contact
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