by Arthur J. Jaramillo
1. First and Foremost: Love your Baby by Loving your Wife. A happy mom exudes an attitude of safety and security to an infant, so by loving your wife, you are loving your baby. Be a Husband and a Dad. Any man can be a father..it takes someone special to be a Dad...and being a dad also means being a good husband. Thank your wife for the wonderful gift of your child!
2. Play "Kissy Cheeks" with baby. Infants LOVE physical attention. Hold baby often, caress head and body, and always kiss baby's cheeks...God made them soft and kissable for a reason! Hold baby in lap and kiss baby's cheeks making "kissing noises" each time you kiss a cheek. Baby feels loved and secure.
3. When baby begins to make noises, mimic the sounds and begin introducing new sounds for baby. Sound sharpens a baby's attention and awareness. Snap your fingers when baby is looking away so baby will hear and turn towards you in response, and then lay on the praise! Make animal sounds...use your imagination.
4. After awhile, baby will begin to mimic the sounds YOU make...play with baby, hold "conversations" with baby in their "language", making "cooing" sounds, pop your lips, click your tongue, and speak "baby." Who cares if anyone else sees or hears you? You are bonding with your child...ain't hardly anything better than that!
5. Hold baby often on shoulder, patting back and bottom. Baby feels safe and secure, and you get to bond with child. (This is a perfect opportunity to play "kissy cheeks". Hum a soft song in baby's ear, and whisper sweet lullaby's. **Note: If you are actively fulfilling #1 above, you will notice that this is as natural as whispering sweet nothings in wife's ear..again...a happy wife is a happy mom, and a happy mom leads to a happy husband!
6. Learn to change a diaper. All "DADS" know how to do this, and don't mind doing it. It is a great opportunity to play with baby and talk to baby. Besides, you haven't lived until you have been hosed down by a boy bubby!
7. As baby becomes more aware, play "Seal Feet"...Lay baby on back on your lap and clap feet together making Seal/Walrus noises. (Again...don't be bashful to do this even in public. Who cares if you look silly!)
8. Hold baby over your head (while sitting) and talk to baby...making funny sounds and laughing...get baby to laugh and learn to trust you. If you have been making baby feel secure and safe by putting into practice all the above, baby is not frightened and begins to laugh. NOTE: Do NOT toss baby in air and play catch! Be careful not to shake or drop baby!
9. After baby begins mimicking sounds...begin teaching baby real words. A baby shows high intelligence and a high brain function when he/she says "Dadda"...It requires the use of the tongue to verbalize the word, which means baby has to actually engage the brain, showing higher mental capacity. No effort is required to say "mama"...a baby just has to move the lips and make noise to accomplish this lower brain function...so, teach baby to say "Dadda", and you will have a little Einstein on your hands! All my bubbies have said "Dadda" FIRST! (My wife disagrees with this assessment, but what does she know? Afterall, I DO have a degree in Communication!)
10. Play Baby Aerobics with child. Lay child on your lap, and gently pull arms and legs, stretching muscles and exercising the baby. Talk to baby while doing this...making funny noises. Always strive to make baby laugh! A happy baby is a secure baby.
11. When baby is fussy (but not hungry or needing a diaper change), lay baby on tummy across your lap and gently pat bottom and back (works best in a rocking chair). Or, place baby on shoulder and pat back and bottom...this can be done sitting or standing.
12. Take your turn to dress baby...the way they make baby clothes is a real challenge for a man (at least for me it is!)...I will never understand why so many snaps! I can never get them aligned right, and have to undo and resnap a couple of times...but, this is a great time to do baby aerobics and talk and laugh with baby. (Besides, baby is amused to see daddy get frustrated with the snaps, and momma is usually amused, too. If everyone is amused (except daddy), everyone is happy. If everyone is happy, everyone is feeling safe secure, and loved. Questions?
Art Jaramillo's parenting wisdom comes through years of being "trained" by his children on what makes a "father" a real dad. His philosophy takes heart in the nonstop quizzes of "Dad, why, what, when, where?", the sounds of feet racing down the hall (after being told "No running in the house!"), and the toothless grins of his latest addition. In a house that is anything but silent, he recognizes the blessings of his life as centered on his faith, his marriage, and his family. Together with his wife, Melissa, they have 11 children and counting.
Copyright © Arthur J. Jaramillo. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.