One Direction singer, Liam Payne, has revealed he felt excluded from the close bond his partner Cheryl Cole had with their baby boy. He’s not the only dad to feel this way.
Eyes in one direction
It’s actually really common for dads of newborns to feel left out of the baby bubble.
Mums are super lucky in that they’re able to start forming a bond with their baby early on, indeed while they’re still in the womb. And then if they’re breastfeeding, that bond can continue to be fairly exclusive as their little one relies on them for nourishment, all the while getting all that amazing skin-to-skin contact.
As told to Hashtag Legend, it was this exact reason which had Liam Payne desperate to find his place in fatherhood. After realising he couldn’t come close to the bond that Cheryl had with their baby he wanted to develop his own strong connection with his son, Bear (now one-year-old).
Three’s a crowd
What Liam experienced as a new dad is far from uncommon. Many men struggle to find their place with a new baby in those early days, sometimes feeling useless or even second-best.
Studies show that up to ten percent of new fathers suffer from depression in the first six months, and it may be partly due to issues with parental bonding and their redefined relationship with their baby’s mother.
Sadly, some women even exhibit ‘maternal gatekeeping’ – where they deliberately delegate their partner to the secondary care-giver role and don’t empower them to be involved. Perhaps those mums are having their own struggles with new parent life?
Read more about daddy bonding:
- Dad admits he envied his wife’s bond with their baby
- Twinning daddy-daughter duo prove distance can’t break their bond
- 7 ways for dads to bond with their new babies
Bridging the bond
New dads don’t have to feel outcast though. There are plenty of ways that they can develop their own special bond with their little one.
Liam’s approach was to get hands-on in the help department, in particular by cooking up a storm for his baby mama, so he could contribute something more than just changing nappies.
Here are some other ways that dads can build a baby bond:
- Help with feeding – Make room for dads to bottle feed expressed milk or formula, if a baby is not exclusively breastfed. Another option is for them to sit next to their partner while they breastfeed to feel part of the process and be on burping duties.
- Baby massage – The power of touch is incredible, especially for babies. Giving their bub a little massage is a perfect way for dads to get their own skin-to-skin experience.
- Bath time – Another skin touch opportunity, men can take on the responsibility of bath time and let’s face it, their arms are usually a bit bigger and stronger to navigate that one-handed bathing technique in the early days!
- Talking and singing – If a baby gets used to hearing their father’s voice, whether it’s chatting, telling stories or singing lullabies, it will help them to respond better when dad’s around. And you don’t even have to wait until they’re born, studies have proven that babies can recognise their father’s voice from when inside the womb!
- Baby carrier – Baby carriers are ideal for fathers and mothers. Safe and snuggled into their chest, newborns can become familiar with their daddy’s scent – and mums get a much-needed break. It’s a win-win!
Create that connection
So whether your partner feels most comfortable whipping up a lasagne, changing nappies, or giving your bub a bath; there are lots of ways for them to create their own baby connection. It’s just about finding what works for you both. Talk through your roles together and look for ways to support each other through this big transition.
And don’t forget that as a baby grows and becomes less dependent on their mum, dad’s parenting role will naturally shift, too.
If you feel your partner is struggling to form a bond with your baby or might be suffering from depression, be sure to speak to your doctor or visit PANDA.org.au.