When it comes to bonding with Baby, the focus is traditionally on the birthing parent. Sure, research shows that a strong attachment between a mother and child has many benefits, including bolstering a child’s social-emotional development, but those benefits extend to dads and non-birthing parents, too. For dads looking to buoy their own Baby bonding time, here are six simple dad-baby bonding activities to try.

How dads can bond with baby

1. Learn the 5 S’s.

By learning the 5 S’s—the key to the calming reflex—you can become the master of soothing your baby. The 5 S’s-fueled calming reflex is the “on switch” for calming and the “off switch” for crying. Some babies need all 5 S’s (swaddling, side or stomach position, shushing, swinging, and sucking) to really settle, and some just need a few to quiet them down. Once you learn them, you can help your baby to be the calmest baby on the block...which will lead to a budding relationship between you both. (Find out why Dads are often amazing baby-calmers.)

2. Try some skin-to-skin contact.

Research shows that skin-to-skin contact is a helpful bonding tool between Mom and Baby, as it prompts the body to release oxytocin—aka the “love hormone.” Spoiler alert: The same thing happens when Dad has skin-to-skin contact with Baby! Bonus: Skin-to-skin contact also results in in less crying! Talk about a win-win.

3. Offer a massage.

You know how aah-mazing you feel after a massage? Well, babies love them, too...and studies show that massaging Baby bolsters attachment. Give your little one a massage after bath or before bedtime for max relaxation benefits. (Need some baby massage how-tos? Here are Dr. Harvey Karp’s expert baby massage tips.)

4. Take a Walk.

Go for a stroll outside with Baby strapped to your chest in a baby carrier. They’ll enjoy the sights and sounds and being nice and close to you. Plus, research shows that babywearing boosts bonding.

5. Embrace diaper duty.

Turns out, the everyday duties of being a parent—like making dinner, changing diapers, and helping tots brush their teeth—all bolster bonding. In fact, research in the Journal of Family Psychology found that fathers who spent lots of time participating in childcare-related tasks on workdays (not saving involvement for weekends) develop the best relationships with their children. 

6. Play! 

While any kind of play can foster bonds, dads often take a shine to “rough and tumble” types of play—like air-planing round the room, knee-bouncing, tickles, and wrestling. And for toddlers and older children its a blast! This exuberant play style works to release the feel-good and bonding hormones oxytocin, dopamine and beta-endorphin. So, as long as little one is having fun—feel free to tickle, jump, and bounce your way to stronger bonds.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.