It goes without saying that the bond between a mother and her child is unlike anything else in the world. A bond between a father and child is unique and special in its own ways and something that deserves focused attention.

Bonding is a two-way street—it’s about your relationship with the baby and their relationship with you. It’s not always easy, either. Oftentimes, dads will feel pressure or put it on themselves that it should be more natural. Think of bonding as a practice—something that needs intentional effort in order for it to manifest.

The good news is that bonding can begin at the earliest stages of pregnancy and continue as your child develops. Here are six of our favorite ways to nurture that dad-baby bond.

Bonding strategies for dads

Talk to baby in utero

Research suggests that interactions between your partner's belly and your voice can have a profound impact on your baby's development, with responses to sounds and movements observed as early as 25 weeks [1]. By talking to your growing baby in utero and gently massaging your partner's belly, you can lay the foundation for a strong bond [2].

Prioritize skin-to-skin contact

Once baby arrives, take advantage of opportunities for cuddles and skin-to-skin contact. This not only promotes physical well-being for you and baby but also fosters a sense of security and well-being. 

Take the night shift

If bottle feeding, managing night feeds can be a powerful way to bond with baby, as it provides uninterrupted one-on-one time while the rest of the world is still asleep. Daily rituals like feeding, diaper changes, singing songs, and playing games are all opportunities to nurture your connection with your baby [2]. Leave your phone in another room. Being present with your child is critical. There’s plenty of time for screens throughout the day. Realistically, there’s a short window of your life you’ll be doing overnight feedings. Embrace it.

Make time in the morning

If your schedule allows, prioritize time with your baby in the morning. Babies are often in their best mood in the morning, making it an ideal time for play and bonding. Whether you're making silly faces, playing peek-a-boo, or singing to them, moments of shared laughter and joy can strengthen your bond over time. This doesn’t mean spending hours before your day starts, even just 10 - 15 minutes has a real impact on both of you!

Practice comforting and calming

Comforting baby when they’re in distress is a powerful means of bonding, too. This requires you to practice patience, empathy, and the ability to power through fussiness—it’s not always easy! If you want support in developing your “baby whisperer” muscle, Harbor has your back.

Lean into playtime

As baby grows, playtime will become more essential. Set aside time for activities that stimulate your baby's senses and encourage interaction, like tummy time, exploring new toys, or going for walks outside. These shared experiences can promote healthy development. Especially while they’re in their stroller phase, you can use outdoor walks as a chance for your own personal health and wellbeing while being with them. Walks are great for your little one!

Accept that bonding can take time

Bonding with baby is a continuous journey that requires patience and intentionality. It doesn’t always happen overnight, but by actively participating in caregiving duties and setting aside time for bonding activities, you'll foster a strong connection with your child that grows as they get older.