Take a few tips from Daddy Nickell, an expert on all things “dad, father, and daddy”. This veteran father has been through it all, with six kids ranging in age from 6 months to 25; he has learned the ins and outs of bonding with children at each stage in their development including infancy, toddlers, tweens, teens and even adulthood! Daddy Nickell has remained a hands-on father while juggling a busy career and is excited to share his “tips and tricks” for building bonds with the little ones you love.
First things first, Daddy Nickell knows how tough parenting in today’s world is. The amount of time a new daddy or mommy spends with their children can sometimes feel limited due to work, travel, etc. Take a bit of advice from an expert to build a long-lasting and unique bond with your child.
- Attention, Soldier: The best way to truly bond with an infant is to offer your full attention. Make it a rule that the time you spend with Baby should be all about Baby – bottom line. For instance, if you’re holding Baby and happen to notice a new email on your Blackberry, don’t be tempted to read it or reply, in fact: Step away from the Blackberry and focus your energy on baby! Remember Dads – during the infant years, it’s quality over quantity, so dig deep, and show Baby you’re there by making eye contact, singing and playing with them!
- Goo Goo Gaga: Okay, so you can probably skip the “goos” and “gaas” and go straight for words, phrases and sentences. Talking to your little one is important on so many levels. The age of your baby shouldn’t matter; they will love to hear your voice no matter what you’re saying. Whether you’re washing dishes, changing a diaper, eating a meal, or riding in the car, it’s important to talk to your child explaining what is going on and why.
- You Say Hello, I Say Goodbye: Well, in actuality, you will say both, hello and goodbye. When you leave for work always say goodbye and let your children know when you’ll be back. Many parents think it may be disruptive to the nanny or babysitter if they interrupt to say goodbye; however, in order to build trust and strengthen developing bonds, you should always say hello and goodbye when you’re coming and going.
- Face to Face: It’s so important for a developing baby to be able to make eye contact with their parents. Babies are fascinated with life, and love to look at you straight in the eyes. Staring your baby in the eyes is extremely special since your eyes can relay so much information – sometimes even more than words. So hold your baby and gaze into his eyes, lighting up your face with silly emotion and having fun.
- Build Beyond Boundaries: Building consistent boundaries for your baby is about more than setting up a perimeter. Being consistent in the boundaries you set helps strengthen bonds and builds a foundation of trust. Children need to know their boundaries are consistent. If you say you are going to do something, you have to follow through regardless if that leads to a reward or a punishment. Parents often forget that when the toddler has a time-out, so does the parent. In short, setting boundaries and then sticking to them will develop trust that lasts a lifetime.
- All You Need is Love: When it comes right down to it, love comes from the building of trust and bonds, and love is one of the strongest emotions we feel. Being both physical and emotional, it’s incredibly important to show your child love as often as possible. Hugs and kisses are great, but you can also tell them you love them and miss them and can’t wait to get back home to them when you’re away.
- Go Exploring: Get outside and learn about things together. When you’re a child, everything is new and worthy of exploration: look at the sky, the moon, the sun (not for too long), cars driving by, flowers, gardens, bugs, dogs, cats, sounds, and more. Learning and exploring together will require you to talk with your child while showing undivided attention and sharing in a common love for our world. A walk should not include you talking on your blue tooth while pushing the stroller down the sidewalk. Leave your phone at home, or, at least, turn it to silent.
Bonding with your baby while being a working dad can seem like a struggle, but with time, you will soon find, it does take a little extra effort but it is always worth it.
Robert Nickell, aka Daddy Nickell, father of 6, offers his “5 cents” worth of advice to expectant and new parents. Daddy Nickell is the founder of Daddyscrubs.com, delivery room duds and daddy gear for dads, and the Daddyscrubs.com blog where he covers topics about parenting and the latest baby and kids gear, all from a Dad’s perspective.