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Parents' Journeys

Fatherhood & Raising Kids Who LOVE Food

7 min read

The first few years are crucial in your little one’s development and can be a roller coaster experience for new dads.

Here, we are looking at how fathers can establish that early bond with their little ones and things they can do to promote healthy relationships for their baby, both with themselves and food through the three stages of weaning.

The Importance of Early Bonding

Establishing that paternal bond between baby and father (and mother) early on is so important. Little ones start interpreting the world around them from the very beginning and rely on loving parents’ care and support to help them cope with all the new sensations.

Often, mothers will bond quickly with their little one, while fathers may take a bit longer due to not having that immediate bodily connection.

Usually, you should have a bond established with your little one within a few weeks. If you feel like you don’t have a connection, talk about it with your GP or health professional, as they should offer advice and support specific to you.

How Can Dads Bond with Baby?

Bonding is not something new parents should worry about too much, though. Often, we bond with our little ones without even thinking. Just have fun; be warm and supportive of your baby, and you’ll get there.

Bonding with Baby in the Womb

Research shows that your little one begins to hear in the womb after around 18 weeks, so bonding can, and should, start from before the birth.

While they won’t understand what you’re saying (unless you have a super child!), speaking or singing to them in the womb is a great way to begin that bonding experience for you and your newborn. Have some fun with it as parents and that loving feeling is sure to reach your baby.

The Power of Touch

After birth, the single best thing you can do to establish a bond between baby and father is to have as much skin-on-skin contact as possible.

Close contact activates a range of connections, from hearing each other’s heartbeats to the senses of heat and smell that form a crucial part of our subconscious bonds.

After birth, ask to hold your baby as early as possible. Then, as they develop over the coming weeks and months, continue that skin-on-skin contact through:

  • Cuddling and stroking
  • Napping together
  • Baby massages

Sing, Read and Play

Bonding is a sensory experience which takes place as your little one takes in the world around them. Because of this, activating their other senses through play is also essential for establishing that all-important connection.

Talking or reading to your little one is a great way to enjoy some bonding time together. When talking to your baby, having eye contact and being close to their face can strengthen that feeling between you both.

Lots of bonding activities can feel a little unnatural at first, but that’s okay. Eventually, you’ll grow into the spirit of being a dad. The main thing is to have fun, as that infectious spirit will inspire your little one.

A dad playing music to a baby

Understand the Difference Between Mum and Dad

Some new dads can experience a form of postpartum depression similar to mothers if they struggle to build a bond with their baby at the beginning. However, similar feelings can also appear when looking at the bond established between mother and baby.

You will not be able to replicate the bond achieved by mother and baby, especially if they are breastfeeding. However, that doesn’t mean you’re less important.

Your unique connection will offer something different to your little one, and they will enjoy their time with both of you more thanks to those slightly different experiences. While you can help relieve the pressure on mum, the main thing is just to enjoy being a dad.

How Fathers Can Help with Weaning

Weaning is the journey experienced by babies as they transition from purely milk feeding towards eating more traditional meals with the rest of the family.

The weaning journey will usually start at around six months, once your little one begins to show signs that they are ready to start weaning. However, babies develop at different rates and can sometimes begin weaning earlier, at around four months. If you’re unsure what’s best for your little one, ask a healthcare professional.

Weaning is an excellent opportunity for dads to get more involved with feeding their little one.

  • Night Feeds: Night feeding is perhaps where dads can prove their most useful! Helping to relieve the burden for mum every so often can be a real help, while it also allows some bonding time for you and your little one.
  • Bring the Fun: Weaning, like everything else, should be enjoyable for your baby. While mum can lead what food is given and when, dads can keep little ones engaged with their new meals.
  • Feeding Mum: It sounds simple, but making sure mum gets the right food herself is crucial, so help her wherever you can!

A dad and his baby at a pumpkin field

How to Keep Children Eating Good Food

The weaning journey is a vital first step on the path to a lifetime of food for your little one. However, it’s only the first step, and keeping that momentum going as they finish weaning is equally important.

Keep Food Fun

Just because they’re more accustomed to eating doesn’t mean it can’t be exciting! Present food in a fun and exciting way to keep young minds engaged and curious.

Encouragement

The best trick in any parent’s book is encouragement. Continue to praise your child lightly - it doesn’t have to be forced - when they do things such as finish their meal or try new food.

Be a Role Model

As children grow, they become more aware of what others are doing around them. If they see you love good food, they’ll do the same!

Fatherhood is a unique experience and one that this humble blog could never do justice. However, we hope that our knowledge of good food and growing foodies will help you develop a special relationship with your little one!

If you want to discover more about the weaning journey or hear more parents' advice, why not follow our social media channels? Alternatively, browse our blog, which is full of helpful advice and ideas.