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Now more than ever, dads are increasingly involved in caring for their kids. In our household, my wife and I parent equally. It’s also no longer weird to hear of stay-at-home dads. Even still, moms generally shoulder more of the parenting load. This is especially true in those first few months given needs such as breastfeeding and the fact that moms often feel more connected to and protective of the baby having carried the baby for 40 weeks! But that’s no reason for dad to feel like he can’t connect with baby too. Of course, most of it just comes down to being present, but here are some great products that can help dad bond with the baby / toddler.
A Good Baby Carrier or Wrap
Of course, one of the best ways dads can bond with baby is through baby-wearing. Moms can often feel like they can’t get away from baby when they’re breastfeeding, so it can be a welcome break for dad to carry the baby. It’s important to get a carrier that feels comfortable. Any reputable company’s carriers will be safe and meet the safety standards, so I feel it comes down to what is comfortable.
For me, I personally love the Beco Gemini. We used it for both of our sons and I found it so easy and convenient to drop baby or toddler in it and walk around comfortably for long periods. The only issue is that both of our sons were only 6 lbs at birth and the stated weight range is 7-35 lbs for the Beco Gemini. It did seem a bit big for our sons when they were first born. It seems all structured carriers generally have a minimum weight of 7 lbs. So, if you have a smaller baby like we did, you can also consider a wrap or ring sling as they can usually be used for even premies.
Personally, I found the Beco Gemini to be far more convenient than wraps and slings. One advantage of wraps and slings though, is that they take up far less space, so it’s easier to pack. Partly because of this, we used both wraps and slings a decent amount too. Plus, my wife liked them. I preferred the wrap (I’m pretty sure we had a Moby) to the sling, but no matter what you get, they all serve to help dad build that bonding relationship.
Hiking Child Carrier
For dads that love the outdoors like me, a hiking child carrier is great for bonding with your child. My wife bought me a Kelty Child Carrier for a Father’s Day present when our first son was two years old. It’s been used quite a bit for some wonderful daddy and son time. Maybe it sounds cliche, but sometimes it really is hard to beat just a dad and his son out enjoying nature.
Indoor Snow Balls
Kids have A LOT of energy. Dads often like to do active things with their kids. Snowtime Anytime Indoor Snowball Fight is an awesome, fun, and safe way to meet these needs. The balls are soft enough to even bounce harmlessly of a baby’s head. We were introduced to these when we visited good friends and their kids. We got our own shortly after and I’ve had lots of laughs and fun playing these with the kids.
Bath Tub and Bath Toys
I do bath time with our sons almost exclusively. I don’t really recall my wife and I specifically deciding this, but we sort of fell into this routine and it’s just been this way. Though we fell into this, it’s turned out to be a great bonding time with my kids. We used the Fisher-Price Whale of a Tub Bathtub until our sons were able to sit up on their own. It was good, but I’ve since seen the Skip Hop Moby and it honestly looks better due to the mesh sling it has, which seems more comfortable than laying on hard plastic. Even with a newborn baby, dads can take on the primary role of doing bath time.
What fun would bath time be without fun bath toys? There are loads of great bath toys, but one of my favorite is the Bath Pipes. Simple, but sometimes simple is better. My sons love exploring these, and honestly, I do too.
Water Table / Splash Mat
Staying with the water theme, water play is such a fun way for dads to spend time and bond with their kids. I love playing at the water table in our backyard with my sons during the nice summer weather. We started with the Step2 Duck Pond Water Table, which worked great for us. When our first son got got older, we got the Step2 Rain Showers Water Table, which has several more elements.
For kids not yet able to stand, a splash mat is a great option. The sprinkler may be too much for really little ones, but you can simply keep the hose at a low enough setting so it’s not really spraying.
The old fashioned snuggling in together to read a book is probably my favorite way to bond with my kids, whether it was when they were a baby or as a toddler. There are simply too many books to name, but if you have a kid like my older son who loves vehicles, take a look at my post, 10 Wonderful Picture Books On Planes, Trains, Trucks, And Other Big Vehicles. Not only is reading a timeless and easy way for a dad to bond with his kids, it’s also incredibly important as numerous studies have shown. This pbs.org article summarizes this importance well along with having many informative links to other such studies highlighting the importance of reading in children.
Yet another timeless tradition is blowing bubbles with kids. From babies, to toddlers, to teens, and adults, there is something magical about bubbles. Bubbles just seem to make people smile. While there are many bubble blowers (and they are pretty cool), I prefer the old fashioned method of actually blowing bubbles myself. It’s better bonding having my son come up close to me excitedly anticipating me blowing the bubbles. Inevitably, there is the asking for bubbles to be blown in his face that just isn’t the same with a bubble blower.
Share Your Thoughts
Of course, this is just a small list, so do you have any great products to share for dads to bond with baby / toddler? Feel free to share via the comments below. Regardless of the products though, it all comes down to being present. No products will replace a dad’s desire and effort to bond with his child.
If you found this post useful, consider taking a look at Some Of The Best And Most Awesome Toddler Toys, 9 Great Road Trip Toys For Kids, and 7 Great, Budget-Friendly Products For Active Parents.