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Bonding tips for dads and partners

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Pregnancy & First Days First few days

Coming home with a new baby is a wonderful, exciting experience. But once you’re home it can also be a bit daunting. And as a dad or non-birthing partner, you may even feel a bit left out – particularly if you’ve had to go back to work soon after baby’s birth. If this is the case for you, don’t let it get you down – lots of parents feel like this at some point. And the good news is, there are lots of simple things you can do to bond with your wee one right from the start.

Tips for bonding with your baby

How to hold your baby

Your baby’s head is big and heavy compared to the rest of them, so it needs to be well supported when you pick them up and hold them.

Here are some safe ways to try holding your baby:

  • by cradling them lengthways in your arms - this is a great position for looking at each other, smiling and talking
  • by cuddling them up close to your chest
  • by lying them on your chest - take care not to do this if you might fall asleep, such as if you’re tired, have been drinking alcohol or smoking
  • using the sling in your Baby Box – this is a good way to keep your baby close, with your arms free to do other things.

Remember to always support their head and neck well to help them feel safe and secure.

Finding bonding difficult

Many parents – mums and dads – struggle to bond with their babies at first. Often, they’ll feel guilty about this, and feel that they’re the only parent this has ever happened to. But this is simply not true! So if you’re having difficulty bonding with your wee one, the first step is to talk to someone about it – this could be your partner, a friend or family member or your health visitor, family nurse or GP.

You could also try joining a dad/partner-friendly parenting group – you can find one near you using the directory on the Fathers Network Scotland website. Talking to other dads and partners who are in the same boat could make all the difference.

Our page on mental health for partners and dads-to-be has more tips, and you can find more advice on NHS Inform’s Ready Steady Baby website.

Last updated: 26 Jun, 2023