Want to know an easy and very effective way that Dad can get tons of cuddle and bonding time with Baby while feeling connected and competent as a father? Here’s our short answer: by babywearing. We’ll expand on that a little more below with five reasons why babywearing for dads is excellent for the whole family: for dads, for moms and for their babies.
1. Babywearing promotes special bonding time for dad: While it’s true that breastfeeding is momma territory (and well it should be), a father can carry his baby in a wrap, sling or baby carrier in order to provide much-needed warmth, comfort, nurturing and movement to his baby. Baby will also smell Daddy’s own unique smell and be comforted by that smell and warmth. Babywearing is also an excellent way for dad to bond with his baby. It’s well-documented that close cuddling and carrying causes us to produce oxytocin, a neuropeptide that plays an important role in the formation of attachment bonds (also known as the “cuddle hormone”). It’s been shown clinically that men with higher levels of oxytocin display increased trust, empathy, and social reciprocity (1). When it comes to parenting, bonds strengthened – at least in part – by higher levels of oxytocin, are excellent for both the father and the mother, as well as for Baby.
2. Babywearing can be incredibly empowering for Dad: We take it as a given that most fathers want to be involved with their babies, with their families. Oftentimes, especially following the birth of their baby (when the baby deeply needs the mother for life-giving sustenance via her breastmilk), it can be hard for a new father to know where he fits in the newly revised family picture. Babywearing can truly help the father know how important he is to his family as a whole. It’s a wonderful tool to help him fulfill his parenting role in a real and very meaningful way. He sets the stage very early on for an involved and deeply bonded role with his child, with his family; one that will only continue to grow and strengthen with time. Mom and Baby will thank them deeply for it.
3. Babywearing provides mobility for the whole family: it’s very hard to just stop everything and sit – for extended periods – when life keeps going whether we have a baby or not. This holds especially true when the family has more than one child. It really is the best of both worlds when a parent can carry on with life – playing with their other children, completing chores about the home, even getting out to walk the dog or take a family hike in the woods – all while providing much-needed comfort, security and safety for the baby by carrying her in a baby carrier.
4. Babywearing is excellent weight-bearing exercise: We know how important exercise is, and babywearing provides excellent weight-bearing exercise. All weight-bearing exercise is great for building and maintaining bone mass, which keeps our bodies strong as we get older. Both mom and dad can reap the benefits of weight-bearing exercise by babywearing their baby, particularly as their baby grows. If daddy is the one who stays home with baby, here are a couple of posts with some good, babywearing-friendly exercises he can do with his baby. Another fabulous option is getting the whole family out for a hiking adventure. Here’s a great resource to help you find a hiking trail, no matter where you are.
5. A babywearing daddy is good for Momma: It can be so easy for mommas to tune in to their babies so much that they neglect themselves, and this can be especially true for parents with high-need babies. When a father is comfortable wearing his baby and when his baby responds to Dad’s babywearing techniques, everyone in the family benefits. By giving mom a little time for something as simple as a shower or short walk outside, she can recharge a bit while baby gets all the snuggles and touch-time baby needs. And, as we mentioned, it can be very empowering for a father to know that he can provide comfort for his baby; to feel that he’s a vital part of his newly growing family; to be able to contribute to both his baby’s and his partner’s needs in a very real and valuable way. We love Dr. Sears’ perspective on babywearing for dads.
Does your family benefit from a father who understands all the wonderful benefits that babywearing for dads provides?
Tell us below about the awesome babywearing dad in your family’s life.
1. Omri Weisman, Orna Zagoory-Sharon, and Ruth Feldman. “Oxytocin Administration to Parent Enhances Infant Physiological and Behavioral Readiness for Social Engagement” (doi: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2012.06.011). Biological Psychiatry, Volume 72, Issue 12 (December 15, 2012). Elsevier.
2. Sears, William. MD. “Fathers Wearing Babies”
3. Wanandi, Paulus. “Babywearing: A Dad’s Perspective.” Note: We just really like this post by an avid babywearing father, so we thought we’d share it here in the reference section.
Top: Amanda Lactivist Nitschke (Breast is Best)
Second: Jessica Menon, Gypsy Momma
Upper Middle: Davina Nemeth (via Facebook)
Lower Middle: Rachel Hatten (via Facebook)
Bottom: Jennifer Coyne (via Facebook)