With parenting, there can often be a great divide between how you think things should be and how they actually are. This is very true for parental bonding, which may come naturally to some yet take longer for others.

When it comes to fathers, bonding can take longer than it might for mothers. When a baby is born, he or she is often placed immediately on the mother’s skin to promote bonding. The new mom also is responsible for breastfeeding the baby, which further promotes bonding and security.

Because a new dad does not fulfill these roles, bonding can feel different and sometimes delayed. Many new dads often report feeling indifferent toward the new baby. Dads may feel like outsiders in a child’s life because many people look to the mother as the main source of nurturing. Also, bringing a new baby home represents a significant change in available time and obligations. These facts can take new dads some time to adjust to.

Additionally, men tend to be more interactive than women. Dads get validation from feedback. This means dads may want a baby to respond to them, yet babies do not tend to show these behaviors until they are a few months older.

Enhancing the bonding process

New dads (and even “old” dads) can take several steps to build a bond. These include taking on everyday tasks, such as giving the baby a bath, feeding the baby, or letting the baby nap on his chest. Skin-to-skin contact is ideal for new dads, just as it is for new moms.

Dads should also attend pediatrician appointments whenever possible. Hearing how baby has grown and advanced in development, as well as a physician’s recommendations for care makes dads feel more a part of the bonding process.

Creating a “dad” routine or a unique job that only dad can do is a good way to promote bonding. Taking an afternoon walk, reading a story to baby, or just playing for 15 minutes in the morning before work can make a big difference toward feeling more involved.

If the bonding process continues to take time, new dads should not beat themselves up. As their children age, the bond can grow if they continue to show an interest and are patient with themselves and their babies.


  • Father-child bonding can be delayed because of traditional parental roles, which cause the dad to feel left out at times.
  • Father-child bonding can take longer but will come with time if dads continue to commit quality time to children.
  • Bonding activities can include father-child playtime, giving the child a bath, feeding the child a bottle, or taking the night shift in waking up with baby.

Last reviewed by Kristie Rivers, MD, FAAP. Review Date: September 2020


  1. ABC News. Paternal Bond Could Come Slowly for Some Dads.
  2. CNN. Why Moms Get Jealous When Dads Bond With Kids.
  3. FitPregnancy. Bonding Tips for Dads.


  1. My husband created a dad routine as soon as the girls were born. He gave baths and did the night time routine such as brushing teeth and reading stories and has continued to do this. He doesn’t see them during the day so this is a great time for him to spend time with them.

    1. My husband does the exact same thing! It’s great for them and gives me time to clean up after dinner, etc..

      1. I was doing the same thing, cleaning up after dinner while he bathes them but now we have started separating the girls so this has put a damper in my “alone” time.


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