Becoming a new father is at once daunting and exciting, filled with late night feedings, crying, diaper changing, and so much more. Child custody for fathers has become much more common, making you the central role model in your newborn’s life. Whether you’re a single father or just want to be an active dad, here are some things to keep in mind that will help you and your newborn.
1. Eye contact
Research shows that infants are naturally drawn to the human face, but their focus centers almost entirely on a person’s eyes. Eye contact, or mutual gaze, is an important part of an infant’s development as it gives the baby information about facial expressions and the direction of a person’s gaze. This information helps your baby understand the environment, what’s pleasant, neutral, bad, or otherwise.
For you, the father, mutual gaze will melt your heart and weaken your knees, reminding you why you fought so hard for dads’ rights. Remember that infants can only see clearly about a foot in front of them, so stay close, make eye contact, and smile not that you’ll have much choice with that last one.
2. Infants enjoy motion.
Rock-A-Bye Baby is more than just a nursery rhyme. It’s a command. Babies love and need repetitive, rhythmic motion. They love to be held, bounced, jiggled, and rocked. Many parents will instinctively sway crying babies knowing that, for some reason, it works.
Movement helps to develop your baby’s brain and their sense of balance, so don’t be afraid to hold, sway, bounce, or cuddle your infant. Just make sure to give your baby a feeling of security without holding her too loose or too tight.
3. and sounds.
While your baby may not be a fan of loud rock music just yet, they do enjoy soft, repetitive sounds, particularly those containing bilabial consonants (b, m, p). Bilabial consonants require a flow of air pushed between both lips, which explains why sounds like ba-ba, ma-ma, and pa-pa tend to be the first that babies make. They are easy sounds for you and your infant to make and give her a very basic control of language.
To strengthen the connection and pluck your own heartstrings, make the sounds back when your baby makes them. It’s not exactly the hottest new band, but you’ll have a happy chorus of ba-bas all through the night.
4. Be responsive.
Ignoring your child at any point in her life can be damaging in the long term. When your baby cries, looks at you, reaches for your face, or does anything to form some sort of connection with you, react to it. Your baby is trying to learn how to exist in the world, how things work. Studies show that babies with responsive parents develop better language and communication skills when they grow up. Divorce attorneys for men essentially fight for your ability to spend time with your child. When you are with your baby, interact with her, react, and be a dad.
5. Love, love, love.
Many a movie and pop song have tried to explain this thing called love. As mammals, we are hardwired to love and care for one another, and it’s not just a one-way street. When you show your love, your baby will return that love, even if she can’t outright say it. Studies show that when parents interact with their kids, the limbic systems the emotional part of the brain of both parties resonate and adjust to match. In other words, after a while, you and your baby will form a synchronous harmony, one that lasts a lifetime.