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dad and baby bonding: tips and truths from fellow fathers

2 minutes

It’s not unusual for dads to worry that they might struggle to bond with their baby, particularly if they’re not the primary carer. But while this isn’t unusual, it also shouldn’t be ignored, as it’s important that you feel confident and supported in your parenthood journey.

Of course, everyone’s experience of fatherhood will be different, but here are a couple of pointers from other dads that could help you out:

They want mummy? Don’t take it personally

Babies like routine, so if they’re used to mummy doing something, like bedtime, it can really throw them off if mummy’s gone and daddy is there instead.

‘The first time I tried to bathe Teddy and put him to bed, it was awful,’ says Pete. ‘He screamed more than I’d ever heard before and I was convinced he just wasn’t comfortable with me, which is not a good feeling.

As he’s got older though I can see that he really is just a creature of habit - now me and my partner do most bedtimes together, then if I ever need to do it myself, he’s absolutely fine.’

Don’t compete with each other

‘My main tip would be, learn from your partner, don’t compete with them,’ says Saeed, dad to Evie, 2. ‘I used to get annoyed that I struggled with stuff like getting my daughter dressed and out of the house in less than an hour, and in hindsight I was a bit stubborn by not just sitting down asking my wife for advice about how she did things!’

Don’t forget - whichever parent is at home more is practising more and learning more about how best to care for your child, so don’t get caught up in worrying that you’re just ‘not good’ at something that ‘comes naturally’ to them.

And this goes for mums or primary carers too - make sure your partner is allowed to try to do things by themselves, and be supportive, not critical.

Create your own dad-and-baby time

Family time altogether is great, but if you’re not the primary carer, carving out moments just for you and your baby can go a long way. ‘I miss a lot of bedtimes, but weekend mornings are “our time”,’ says Jake, dad to Liam, 4. ‘I get up early with him while my wife has a lie-in, and we make pancakes, play and go swimming. I really think our bond wouldn’t be as strong if it weren’t for those moments.’

Don’t forget - skin-to-skin time is important for dads too, and if you’d like more advice from fellow fathers, read our blog - Becoming a dad: shared experiences for dads to be. And if you’re ever concerned about your ability to bond, do contact a GP or counsellor.

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