In what would typically be a difficult topic for most men to discuss, I would like to encourage fathers, especially newbies, to break from any male stereotypes you may have about babies and men and spend time with your newborn – often. Doing so will create a bond between you and your child that could be rewarding as you both age.
It’s traditionally difficult for men to interact with infants because we are more wired to show less outward affection than women. But to make an early connection with your infant children you’re going to have to overcome those barriers and use some unmanly verbalizing – yes, even some coochy-cooing – for them to sense that you too are an important part of who they are and will become. It will all revolve around human sensory functions.
Hearing is perhaps the most acute sense a new born has. It’s been functioning longer than the others even while they were in the womb. Sounds are audible to the fully developed fetus while still tucked away in the cozy comfort of the amniotic sac. So upon bursting forth into the world your voice is already familiar to your new son or daughter. Speak low and soothing when in close proximity to your child. Loud noises startle and can frighten them. You don’t want to be associated with that.
Your voice can also be picked up while in other rooms and recognized by your child. You need to always be cognizant of this in the event there is friction between you and your spouse, or on a lighter side, when the Dallas Cowboys score a winning touchdown. Baby experts tell us too that infants love “repetitive, rhythmic sounds that mimic the sound of vibrations or the heartbeat.” Here’s where your vocal impressions of a low, background jazz snare drum pays off.
The shock of a real life environment is a big contrast from the warm comfort of the womb habitat. Cold is a new sensation for infants so feeling warmth from your touch has a soothing affect. A baby’s lips and hands are the most sensitive areas of their skin so concentrate on these. Lots of soft kisses and tender caressing are in order here. One of my fondest memories of my son when he was about 2 years old was when I was on the living room floor playing with him. I was sitting and he came waddling up to me as fast as his short legs would carry him and leaped at my chest. I fell back slowly with him in a controlled manner and remember his soft cheeks against mine and the kiss he gave me. It was pure delight.
Infant experts inform us that human faces are the things a newborn likes to look at best, followed by brightness and movement. Their vision is still somewhat blurry but they seem to be mesmerized when you make eye contact with them. Putting your face close to them often will allow them to better identify you. While doing this you can also combine their tactile and audible senses to be stoked as you allow them to touch the contours of your face while you engage in a back-beat sound to one of your favorite tunes.
They distinguish sharp contrast like black and white as opposed to subtle hues. This is where you can finally put that Hawaiian shirt to good use that Aunt Frances purchased for you on her last trip to Maui. What else are you going to use it for? And you really don’t have to be that concerned when you’re burping the baby and they let loose all that baby formula they’ve been inhaling all day.
SMELLS AND TASTE
Baby experts are not sure how sensitive newborns can smell but they know their sniffers are intact if they are reacting to taste. The two work in conjunction with each other as we all learn later when we are driving past Fast Eddy’s Ribs and Fried Catfish. Babies are addicted to sweet tastes early, which is a good thing because mother’s milk is sweet.
Though you may be tempted to blend up a mix of French Fries and Dr. Pepper to really exploit the baby’s sweet taste to achieve rapid bonding, it might be more practical to have Mom provide a little of nature’s treat from her breast or prescribed formulas. Alternating feeding between you and the mother provides just one more opportunity for that early connection between dad and child to firmly develop. Besides, child obesity has become an epidemic in this country so mama’s milk will create healthier long-term taste than a Twinkie and a Mountain Dew.
The bonding thing that occurs between a parent and their children at early developmental stages is critical. Early imprinting between newborns and their fathers will determine their later relationships with each other. There will be those generation-gap strains that normally occur. Losing the opportunity to form an early bond with your child will makes those strains less positive and more confrontational.