Father-infant bonding can be a challenging assignment for new dads. The first few weeks of a baby’s life are filled with breastfeeding sessions with mom, making it hard for a new papa to find quality, non-diaper changing time. The playing field levels out over time, and once the baby is a couple months old there are opportunities to find meaningful attachment for both parents.
However, when it comes to extracurricular activities for dads and babies/toddlers, the menu is grossly catered to the mother. Whether it be a mom/baby yoga class, guppy swim lessons, toddler tumbling, or kiddie kitchen training, America is rife with “mommy and me” activities; dads be darned.
Of course, there are certain corners of the country where “daddy and me” classes are offered and flourishing. In fact, NYC Dads Group sponsors boot camps, organizes yoga classes, and schedules meet-ups for other involved dads. In smaller metroplexes—like the Midwest town where I reside—a dad would be hard-pressed to find such a resource.
Creativity, ingenuity, and resourcefulness are traits every father needs to develop, and there are a wealth of pastimes a dad and child can partake in. Our buddy Mark Segedie—fitness trainer for Mamavation and dad to three boys—affirmed the difficulties of paternal bonding but was eager to offer helpful suggestions to make the task easier than managing a bedtime tantrum.
Bjorn with Baby—Hangover Style
“Get a wearable baby carrier and use it. Just like the guy from The Hangover, hopefully without the craziness. They get to see everything as a grown-up would and you get to bond with the baby while getting a great workout. I’ve taken my boys grocery shopping, to amusement parks, and out for a walk.”
Parks and Rec
“You would be surprised at the number of parks and recreation classes that are offered for newborns/infants. Many of those classes aren’t just for mommy, and ones that are might make an exception. If you work during class time, take a day off and take baby to class. Your spouse will appreciate the much needed day off.”
Get Physical with Baby
“I discovered years ago that babies love watching people work out. Think of all the goofy moves we do and silly faces we make. This is pure entertainment for a baby. In between sets you can tickle, talk, or hug your baby.”
Guy’s Day Out
“Seek out other dads with newborns. With social media this has become a lot easier. Most dads probably know a few right now. Arrange a play date with them.”
“Get a jogging stroller. Babies love going for a ride and you will get great exercise. Make sure you’re following all appropriate safety measures while jogging.”
Father and child classes will surely become more prevalent as our society continues to buck traditional gender-roles and parenting stereotypes. The list above is just a microscopic portion of the infinite things you can do to create lasting memories with your little one, while staying active together. No one knows a child better than their parents, so cater your activities to them, get them involved—they’re resilient creatures and you’d be surprised what they can do.
October 9th, 2013