New parents are priceless! When a Mom or Dad looks at their newborn for the first time, there is wonder and awe. But if you look closely at Dad, there is an underlying PANIC when that newborn bundle is placed in his arms for the first time. “I don’t want to break her! I don’t know what to do! How do I soothe him? How do I play with her—she can’t hold a football yet!”
This is for all of the new fathers out there. My Survival Guide or SOS Manual for helping Dads bond with their children and overcome their overwhelming fear of the unknown.
My SOS acronym:
S is for Slow. Move slowly so as not to startle your little one. Talk quietly and lovingly with your face 6-8 inches from your baby’s face, as this is the distance that infants can see most clearly.
O is for Often and Observant. Hold and talk to your baby frequently. She will get used to seeing and hearing you and will look forward to your times together. Be observant—learn what his little frown means, when she is squirmy she might want to change position when you feel rumblings in his belly he might be ready to ‘let loose’!
S is for Soft and Secure. Hold your baby securely so that she doesn’t feel like she is falling. Use a soft touch to stroke her skin, roll her over, or pick her up.
Ways To Hold your Baby
There are many ways to hold your newborn. You want to make sure that his head is kept in line with his trunk whether he is vertical or horizontal, because a little baby does not yet have the control and strength to hold their head upright. You might want to lay your baby over your forearm and hold her next to your chest or You can sit with your legs bent on the sofa and put her in the cradle of your thighs so that you face one another and her back is supported by your legs.
You can recline in bed or a favorite chair and put your little Prince on his tummy across your chest. Tummy time is extremely important so that babies will develop head and trunk control in preparation for crawling and other activities. Babies will enjoy the contact of their skin on yours, if you place them on their tummy across your thighs.
Activities To Try With Your Baby
Activities to try with your baby include singing and talking. If you know a children’s song or nursery rhyme, great. If not, sing whatever song you like and gently sway with the rhythm of the music while holding your baby securely. Or get a great musical toy and sing along! Your baby will love hearing your voice—talk to her about your day, what your dreams for her are, why you named him what you did, stories from your youth….whatever! The important thing is to talk with her!
Play Peek-a-Boo, Pat-a-Cake, and other hand motion games and songs.
Take your baby on a “tour” of the house or yard (in nice weather!) Show him different items in the house and tell him about them. Take her hand and let her feel the texture of the bark on a tree, the fabric on the couch, the cool glass of the window. Describe the things you see, hear, and feel.
Get yourself and baby in a comfortable position and gently stroke her leg, arm, or back. Use slow, rhythmical motions with gentle pressure. Watch his face and body for signs that he is enjoying the massage or when he has had enough.
Develop Confidence And Experience
As you spend time with your young child, you will develop confidence and experience. Continue to play with your child as they grow. Cuddle, chat, discuss, laugh. Carve out time each day to be exclusive with them.
Playing with children is extremely important. Having a one-on-one time with no distractions is important for building levels of self-esteem, confidence, and communication.
Significant touch is very important and needed for emotional growth. (Harlow, a psychologist who did research in the 1950’s and 1960’s, studied behavior in monkeys and showed the importance of feeling love, affection and acceptance from a caregiver and the importance of touch.)
Set up special routines together with your child. They might include back rubs, foot rubs, songs, a special meal made together every Friday, dance parties, breakfast out together, or taking a silly selfie once a week.
Remember—every new skill takes time and patience. Your baby is worth getting to know! Make your time together count! Make memories that will last a lifetime! You CAN do this!
Guest Post By
Early Intervention Specialist
Trisha is an Early Intervention Specialist, focusing on the treatment of children birth to three years old. She is skilled in neuro-developmental techniques (NDT), myofascial release, sensory integration, taping for neuro-developmental problems, and craniosacral therapy. Trisha is also the founder of Pro Educational Toys that provides parents, therapists, daycare providers and others quality toys and products to stimulate the growth and development of children through play.