Putting yourself in baby's place and keeping baby's needs top of mind is an important part of parenting.
Both parents have the same opportunities to bond with their child, and it makes no difference to the child who is nearest. Research has shown that babies need to bond with one person at the start, and that this person will be 'parent no. 1' in the first few years. But this may change several times over as your child grows up. Further reading: Baby carrier, sling or wrap
Interaction with a newborn baby happens in different ways
• By skin-on-skin contact
• Caresses and other touching
• Through eye contact
• Through sounds such as talking and singing
• During breastfeeding or bottle-feeding sessions
• At nappy changes
• At bedtime
• In all those other little intimate moments over the day
Mum often makes the initial bond
In most cases, a baby's connection with its mother is the most intense initially if she breastfeeds. The other parent may have to put up with being 'second-best' for baby for a while. The main thing is to not take this personally, but connect with baby on his or her own terms.
It is also important to have a 'backup' to support the parent who rarely gets any time out. As baby's dad or a partner, you can provide baby's safe embrace after she has been breastfed, and help to settle her, burp her, change the nappy, soothe her and take her out for a stroll in the pram. Most parents appreciate some time alone with baby all to themselves sometimes. You both need to find yourselves in your parenting role, and it is very valuable to develop your very own connection with baby, individually, with your joint child.
If you are both tired and exhausted from all the broken nights and interrupted sleep, the aim should be to help and support each other. Both of you probably need to catch up on a few hours of sleep and grab a nap at weekends. Try to be flexible in the beginning when you're both new to the game and haven't yet settled into a routine. If you help each other out, you'll soon be able to make time to just sit down as a couple and chat in the sofa while baby sleeps. Because it's important to look after each other too.
Give each other the chance to rest and bond with baby
Are you baby's favourite right now? Do you find it hard not to give bossy advice when your partner is doing a nappy change or just hanging out with baby? Take a deep breath and leave the two of them to figure things out together. It may seem like your partner is happy to give up the minute you offer to take over. But the reality is that many partners are made to feel excluded and incompetent. Even if you are the one who knows baby best after the first few weeks or months, it is important that your child connects and feels confident with both parents. And once you've made that happen, then you get to take a rest and some 'me-time'!
Relate to baby by focusing on baby's needs
Are you currently parent no. 2? Once your baby is ready for more contact with you, then it's your time. Recognise baby's needs and take every chance you get to build your own one-on-one relationship. Meanwhile, your partner can enjoy some well-earned peace and personal time, which is bound to benefit all of you. There's no one right way of comforting a crying baby: you'll do it your own special way.
You can also change nappies, feed baby, cuddle and play in different ways. And it's important for your child to get to know both of his or her parents. Matching up to your partner means much more than doing the same things in the same way or at the same time. The two of you are different people, and each need to bond with baby in your own way. Share the highs and lows and discuss expectations as a way of raising each other's mutual awareness and bringing you closer as a family.
Both parents are likely to get upset if baby favours one parent for a time. This means that one of you always has to be around, rarely gets a break or rest, while the other of you feels rejected.