8 Ways Partners Can Bond With Baby During Pregnancy

From taking prenatal classes to sharing tunes in utero, there are plenty of ways a non-pregnant partner can bond with their baby-to-be. Here’s how to get acquainted with your little one before they’re even born.

Husband hugging pregnant wife's stomach
Photo: Getty Images

Many parents understand the importance of bonding with their baby after birth, but studies show that connecting with your child in utero can be just as beneficial. The problem is, unless you're growing the baby inside of your own womb, it can be difficult to feel attached to them.

But don't worry! While you may never experience morning sickness or fetal movement, you can still have prenatal bonding. It will just require a bit of effort—and creativity—on your part. To help you get started, we've asked experts and experienced parents to share ideas for bonding with baby during pregnancy.

Attend Your Partner's Prenatal Appointments

One of the best ways to feel connected throughout your partner's pregnancy is attending prenatal doctor's appointments. You can learn updates about the baby's development, ask questions, and support your partner through any pregnancy-related challenges. You'll also be one of the first to hear your baby's heartbeat and see ultrasounds in real time—experiences you'll never forget. Bring some tissues, because it's not unusual to get emotional when you first witness this incontrovertible proof that there's actually a baby coming your way! Make sure to snag a copy of the sonogram to show off to close friends and loved ones.

Think Ahead to the Adventures You'll Share

When a pregnant person thinks about their baby, they often picture an infant. Partners, on the other hand, may picture the baby older, as a new playmate, and look forward to showing them the world, says Greg Bishop, founder of Boot Camp for New Dads. "Since dads tend to dream of things they will do with their offspring as the baby grows, making or buying something connected to those activities is a tangible way to cement this growing bond," says Greg Bishop. "Maybe it's a pint-size fishing pole, maybe it's something to do with their favorite sports team."

Get to Know Your Baby Gear

Once you've brought your newborn home, you'll get acquainted with plenty of unfamiliar gear. Don't let your partner learn how to use everything alone. Instead, ease the uncertainty of those early days by familiarizing yourself with the essentials. Doug Gertner, author The Grateful Dad's Guide to the First Year of Fatherhood, says that taking the time to research baby products, such as a breast pump, can help your partner and your new baby. It can also feel empowering for you. "Knowledge is power, and knowing what to expect will bring a range of positive possibilities before baby even arrives," he says. From installing the car seat to setting up the pack 'n' play and operating the bottle warmer, you definitely won't regret mastering your baby gear before those blurry newborn days take hold.

Play DJ to Your Partner's Bump

Create an ideal playlist for your future child—and then pump the music into their cozy little cave. That is, take some headphones and place them gently around your partner's pregnant belly. This is your chance to give your kid some great musical taste and make them a lifelong fan of (what you define as) good music. But don't crank it up too much, warns Katherine Moore, an early childhood music educator: "The hearing of fetuses and infants is extremely sensitive, which means the sound levels we expose them to need to be on the gentle side." Be conscious of the type of music you're sharing as well—classical music, gentle lullabies, and soothing melodies can be comforting for baby, while loud, discordant tones can cause stress. So maybe save the introduction to your favorite thrash metal music until they're a bit older.

Sing a Duet

For the musical family: Why not sing duets to the baby in your partner's tummy? The good musical vibes that will reach deep into the amniotic atmosphere will benefit everyone involved. "Babies hear sounds from the outside world at 16 weeks gestation," says Deena H. Blumenfeld, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator. "They also recognize their parents' voices from the moment they are born. If dad sings to the baby while baby is still in the womb, baby will know the song, calm, and look to dad." A smart time to establish a singing routine is before bed, and you can continue the tradition after birth.

Encourage an Early Love of Literature

Your unborn child has ears, and it's never too early to influence their literary tastes by reading to them in utero. In fact, the sooner you whip out the books, the better off they'll be. "Reading was always something my family loved growing up, so I figured I'd start early," says dad Matt Heinz. "I bought a couple of collections that were my favorites—Dr. Seuss and Curious George—and read to my wife's belly. Not only was it a great way to be involved in the pregnancy, as soon as our son could choose stories, he went straight for the ones he'd been hearing since before birth. It was actually pretty amazing."

Feel for Baby Movements

"When our son was the proverbial bun-in-the-oven, my wife and I would hang out every evening of the last couple of months and observe his movements as if we were wildly fascinated students of soccer at the World Cup finals," says Kenneth Mossman, a life coach and dad. This might win the approval of Deborah Petersburg, a Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator and Fellow of the Academy of Certified Childbirth Educators, who says: "Having dad place his hands on mom's growing belly is an easy way for him to experience the movements of the baby. It's fun to try guessing whether you are feeling the baby's foot, knee, hand, head, or bottom! Dads are surprised to discover that the baby will even 'play' with him by kicking or punching where he lays his hand."

Take the Baby on Virtual Road Trip

Some of your relatives will surely be far away—but that doesn't mean you can't do some in utero greetings. Introduce your baby to the sound of your grandmother's voice in Oklahoma, or that of your sister in California. Sharing your excitement about your impending parenthood with the outside world will help the experience seem even more real. And in a few months, when they're old enough to take their first real-life road trip, your baby may be more ready.

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