Bonding with Your Baby

Birth of a Father

Three's a crowd, and many new dads may feel like a third wheel after baby comes home from the hospital. "Dad can feel like an aside," says Josef Burton, MD, who practices in New Milford, Connecticut. And unless he had younger siblings or babysat for newborns as a teen, a first-time father is not usually confident about being in charge of a baby right away.

While it's different for every father, an initial feeling of wonderment, pride, and protection follows baby's birth. And when a baby starts to gain size, strength, and head control, a father can start interacting in a way that's most comfortable for him. "Dad's approach is different: bigger, rougher, tougher. They let babies experience more and aren't as warm and cuddly," says Dr. Burton. And that's a good thing -- babies benefit from both Mom's and Dad's styles.

For a father to feel more like a member of the team, give him the reins. Take a few hours off to go shopping or visit a friend. "Tell him, 'You're in charge.' Let him and the baby figure it out without someone's looking over his shoulder," says Dr. Burton. And you'll score some much needed "me time" while they get their groove.

But one thing's for sure: Once baby sees Dad as Mr. Fun, don't be surprised if he scores the first smiles and belly laughs. Dad will feel mighty special.

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