Mark Perlman, the post's author, has 35 years of experience working with parents, children, and families in strengthening the family bond. He authored The Nurturing Father’s Program, a thirteen-week parenting curriculum for men that has been utilized by thousands of fathers and implemented by organizations such as Prevent Child Abuse, Head Start, and Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative. Mark also authored the MArraige and PArrenting Program (MA & PA), which helps couples parent successfully as a team. He is the past Executive Director of the Family Counseling Center, the Child Protection Center and Fathers United Network (FUN) of Sarasota, Florida. He has served on the Florida Commission on Responsible Fatherhood, Commission on Marriage and Family Support, and currently on the Governor’s Child Abuse Prevention and Permanency Council. Mark is the proud married father of two grown sons.
Getting To Know Your Newborn
The days and weeks that follow the birth of your new baby are a busy time. As a father, you will likely continue to be the support person for your partner as well as communication central for family and friends. You will be juggling many roles and responsibilities.It’s important that you take time to get to know your baby. Don’t hold back; jump right in and be an involved father.
If you are not too familiar with newborns, ask the delivery nurse how to hold your baby and any other questions you may have. These first days and weeks provide a unique opportunity for you to establish a bond and begin the relationship with your daughter or son that will last a lifetime.
Look for opportunities for you and your new baby to spend one-on-one time together, for example, when your partner is sleeping, needing a break, or preparing for nighttime feedings. Some new dads offer to get up to give the baby the middle of the night bottle (if bottle feeding) because it is such a peaceful and quiet time to hang out together – and mom will love the extra sleep.Some dads describe holding their baby in one arm (head carefully supported) while doing some light work around the house. Other dads smile when they describe their baby falling asleep on their chest while they watch sports on television.
Use your five senses to learn about and enjoy your newborn:
- Sight--Look at his face (eyes, ears, tiny nose), hands, feet, hair (if any).
- Watch his facial expressions, awake or asleep. Smile and make funny faces. Close face-to-face contact allows your baby to see your face.
- Sound--Listen to your baby’s breathing and the many sounds he makes.
- Touch—Caress his soft cheek, feet, and tiny hands. Place your finger in his hand and see if he grabs hold. Bend your finger and let your baby suck on your knuckle. Let your baby lie on your chest. (This may work best with your shirt off because babies love skin-to-skin contact.) I also recommend that you and your partner learn infant massage.
- Smell—Take in his feast of amazing smells – hair, scalp, face, and other smells (with which you will become too familiar).
- Taste—Kiss your baby’s forehead, cheeks, hands, and feet.
By Mark Perlman