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How to bond with Baby as a Dad (and help my girlfriend relax.)(9 Posts)
I'm hoping some of you might have some tips on how your partners bonded with their baby.
My little girl is just over 13 weeks old now. She's at that wonderful stage where she regularly smiles a lot while looking directly at you.
She's mainly BF, my girlfriend wasn't producing enough milk for the first couple of weeks so we supplemented with a bottle before bed. It's my girlfriend's third child and she's in her late 30s so when we worked out that the 'bedtime bottle' meant another couple of hours sleep before she woke for a feed, we decided to keep it going. It also gave me a chance to be involved.
But she's understandably still very clingy to her mum. In the right mood she's fine with me, and when she wants to play she's absolutely fine with me. But I'm having trouble taking some of the burden off my girlfriend because of how frequently she'll scream and cry for her. Sometimes she wants the breast, sometimes just mummy's arms.
In the evenings and at the weekends I'll take her a lot to give me girlfriend a break. Sometimes she's ok as long as I walk around with her, very occasionally she'll accept me sitting down with her, mostly she'll be entirely unimpressed. Her two older girls are 4 and 9 and we're trying hard to make sure she gets time with them too (although I've lived there for nearly three years and have a close bond with both, and they're actually both coping great and adore the baby.)
During the day my girlfriend doesn't really get to put her down much, she mostly wakes up as soon as she's settled down - so it's 20 minutes once or twice tops. My girlfriend is stressing about the house not being pristine as a result. I'm doing what I can in the evening after everyone else is in bed (although my girlfriend also likes me to be there at that point, which I miss too.) I think it's ok for us to drop our standards a little for the next couple of months - three kids is hard when one is a baby! I genuinely feel like anyone who might peer in and judge us can just go f* themselves - is this unreasonable? We're cooking proper meals for the kids, the washing up and laundry gets done, there's not half-eaten food lying around or anything.
Sorry, kind of all spilled out so I guess it's two things:
- Any tips on helping a dad bond with his baby? I'm taking five months paternity leave at the end of the year and would like to have a close bond going at that point, but I guess that might also be the opportunity to really work on it.
- Any tips on helping my girlfriend accept that when neither of us are relaxing for a second before we get to bed, we probably can't expect more of ourselves? We do get a cleaner in once a fortnight. I just want her to relax and enjoy this as much as possible (she didn't really get to with the first two.)
My DH is incredibly close to DS. He used to do all the winding and nappy changes after a feed when DS was tiny, though I guess you're getting past that stage of endless winding and pooing. Lots of wiggle dance, galleon (swing the baby between your legs), etc; like you he couldn't lie down with DS until he was over a year old because DS saw him as the entertainment rather than the food. It won't be long now before your baby is ready to look around instead of just feeding, honestly just a few more weeks and there's such a big change, as though the baby wakes up to notice a whole world that isn't boob. At 4 months they were still on dances, but also staring out of the window together, walking round the garden to touch every leaf and flower, reading stories, playing with toys (make the teddies dance) and peekaboo endlessly.
I doubt your partner was actually short of milk by the way, it's perfectly natural to be building up a supply in the early weeks and the usual curve for breastfed babies is that they gain weight a little more slowly then overtake the formula babies (you can look it up online). If the bottle works for you that's great, but it's a shame to be thinking there was a problem rather than making your decision just for convenience. The reason I mention this is there are more big growth spurts at ~12 and 17 weeks, then about 6 months and about 12 months; as your partner was misinformed before about her milk supply being low rather than the process of the baby being "still hungry" as how women naturally build their supply, it's best to be prepared or she might worry unnecessarily. A few nights of the baby fussing at the boob during each growth spurt and her supply will naturally grow, then it's back to normal (with even bigger boobs at feed time).
Also can you get the cleaner in weekly for the next few months and get the cleaner to do the laundry and ironing? Some weeks it's just amazing when we've been struggling to get everything done, our cleaner comes and suddenly everything's clean, fresh and put back in place.
Maybe it's time for the two bigger kids to have small chores to help out as well, at least they can't make more mess while tidying up!
@MRex thanks for the replies.
Regarding the milk, my girlfriend was aware after the first two children that the milk takes a while to kick in and we persevered with EBF for the first ten days - unfortunately at that point our baby was admitted to hospital for three nights due to jaundice, as she wasn't getting enough fluids My girlfriend has had a very hard time with this, and I've been as supportive as I can, but it's tricky when the first thing on your mind is that you want your baby to be healthy. She needed more bottles early on after that, but we've been able to phase them out. I do think she produces enough milk now - the evening bottle is more a practicality so that the older girls feel she still has time for them (obviously our baby thinks I'm awesome during that time....)
But what you said about dad being the entertainment made a lot of sense and your post helped a lot - thanks
The 4 year old is actually very good at wanting to help with chores. She's still 4 though and her help tends to require more effort to eh... fix, than the original task required. :p
I do nearly all the laundry to be honest - when I first moved in there practical limitations to how much I could help with some things since I wasn't a parent, so I just picked a chore she hated and made it mine. Oh, and we live in Denmark - I think 95% of the Danes I know don't even own an iron!
My dh found nappy-changing was a great time for bonding. And nice when you've just fed a baby not to have to get up to change her as well. Bathing also good.
My DH spent lots of time with our two in a sling when they were tiny and he felt that was really good for bonding. They were summer babies and used to 'help' him water the garden in the evening while I had a cup of tea and a bath!
DH did most of the nappy changes when he was home. He would sing to DS and make silly faces to calm him down.
He did most baths.
The big thing for us was DH taking DS for walks alone in the sling. DS often fell asleep in it.
Basically echoing the above. I mean we only had the one baby like so obviously really different. I only breastfed til 12 weeks too but my baby sounds like yours - when she was BF she fed on and off virtually all day every day and would only nap if being constantly moved (so pram or baby Bjorn carrier as we don't drive so car trips were rare), or held, or occasionally for like 20 or 30 minutes in crib if put down in a deep sleep. DH only had 3 weeks paternity leave and I really struggled as DD also cried almost all the time she was awake. But what he did a lot of was: night time settling (he did most of this but she only rarely had milk and was obviously bottle fed after 12 weeks anyway) - nappy changes, he still does almost all the changes when he is around, and she's 1 now - taking her for a walk in the Baby Bjorn or pram when she was just doing my nut in screaming all the time as she'd ways fall asleep and it gave me an hour to nap or get a wash and eat something or whatever - washing up - making dinner when he got in or more often id want a break from DD so I would pass her to him and I'd make dinner - sorting out our guinea pig (cage cleaning mostly) - he would make me lunch the night before when he would make his, until she started getting a bit easier around 5 months old - helping with any other jobs e.g. making up bottles etc - he mostly did the bedtime bottle and putting her to bed and he mostly still does this now. Also would read to her, sing to her, pace the floors with her or bounce her on exercise ball if she was crying all the time etc. She absolutely adores him btw if anything she prefers him to me! We were at a children's party the other day standing together and she saw us (she's a bum shuffler and was off doing her own thing) and bum shuffled towards us and then picked him to go to and grab his legs to get picked up! I am training her to want him in the night, DM taught me this tip ;)
Get a sling so that you and mum can have bub close to you as needed but hands free for the older girls too. When you take her pop her in a sling/ pray and take her for a short walk outside. Build this up by a few minutes each time, after a feed so she has a full tummy should mean that she settles easier. For my DH taking our boys out of the house (can’t smell/ see mum) was key for him being able to settle them. We also used the car for this when they were grumpy/ not settling
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