Celebrating His First Father’s Day

Father kissing baby

If your first baby was born within the past year, this Father’s Day will be special for the baby’s father. Becoming a father, becoming a parent, is one of those profound transformations we don’t necessarily realize we’re about to go through until the process is underway.

I’m not usually big on celebrating holidays like this, but I think there are ways to make Father’s Day and Mother’s Day special without giving in to the push to buy stuff. I also think it is important to take a moment or a day—any day you choose, really—to call attention to the transformation of becoming a father.

One of the reasons I don’t like a holiday with perfunctory gifts is that I don’t want my children to put a lot of their energy into what is for them a big gift or a big project only to create something that is thrown away or forgotten. I want to value their gifts, so I want them to learn what receivers will value.

Your baby is too young to quite be aware for gift giving yet, but you can set family habits in motion now by thinking about what this first Father’s Day really means for him.

It’s Not Just about Him

Don’t just make Father’s Day about him, as you would on his birthday; make it about his fatherhood. Make it about his transformation or his relationship with your child. If you give him a gift, make it a gift that helps him build on this new relationship he has as a father.

Or, make it a gift that helps him remember where he is now. You’ve heard that the time goes quickly. I’ll still repeat it for you: the time you have with your child does go quickly. You will be surprised when you see years behind you, and so will he. Your gift could mark the beauty of now and become a keepsake.

Daddy & Baby Photos

Remember this fleeting moment. Take him and your baby to a professional studio to get Daddy and baby photos. Then, repeat this every year. It takes discipline, but they will both love it. They will both marvel at how time changed them as they look back on these photos.

Anticipating Projects

Is he an active guy who is always involved in projects? Find him a great book of projects he can do with kids: science experiments, electronics, building outdoors, gardening, or anything else he loves doing. Sure, the baby is too young to do these things now, but you can spark his imagination now and watch the ideas grow along with your child.

Parenting Handbook

Do you talk together about how you will raise your child? At bynature.ca we carry only a few parenting books that we really value. One of them is Between Parent and Child, a book that was originally published in 1969 by renowned psychologist Dr. Haim Ginott and has since been revised and updated by Dr. Alice Ginott, clinical psychologist and wife of the late Haim Ginott, and family relationship specialist Dr. H. Wallace Goddard.

Between Parent and Child

Through 5 million sold, this book changed the way parents communicated with their children. Dr. Ginott believed that parenting was a skill that could be learned. If you baby’s father is wondering how to discipline and communicate in a way that your child will learn trust and self-confidence, this book is a gift that will help him and the whole family.

Your Message to Him

Your baby is too young to send the message, but you can let him know that he is doing well. Tell him what you appreciate about his parenting. Make sure he feels supported in this transformation into Father. You could just tell him, or you could write him a letter.

Whatever you choose to do, mark Father’s Day by acknowledging the importance of this new role as Father. It’s a tough job, and it helps all of us to know that we are noticed and appreciated.

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Infant Massage: Daddy Bonding Time

Baby getting infant massageBreastfeeding is more than a nutritional transaction. Breastfeeding is a bonding experience for mother and child.

Fathers need their bonding time with babies as well. In my family, that time was bath and massage time. After my husband would give our babies an evening bath, I would breastfeed the baby then he would give the clean, tired, well-fed baby a massage. Baby massage is a perfect activity for fathers.


Benefits of Infant Massage

  • Calming, leading to better sleep
  • Touching, leading to better bonding
  • Soothing, relieving colic


Prepare

When? Choose an unhurried time when both you and your baby can relax. Make sure she isn’t hungry or restless. We found after bath a great time for massage.

Where? Both you and your baby should be comfortable. Since he will be stripped down to his diaper or without any diaper at all, make sure the room is warm enough. Lay a towel, blanket, or sheepie down in front of you on a bed or on the floor (if it isn’t too hard). Just make sure you can reach the baby easily. My husband always did massage on the bed because our babies were so relaxed afterward that they often fell asleep for the evening.

Gaia natural baby massage oilWhat oil? There are so many choices. Just be sure that you test whatever oil or product you choose on a small patch of the baby’s skin to see whether your baby has any sensitivities. It’s much better to check first than to find your baby all pink and blotchy because of allergies. I liked the smell of apricot oil on the baby. ByNature.ca also sells a mineral oil-free baby massage oil from Gaia Natural Baby.

What to do? This is the heart of the matter, and this is where I am going to send you to the experts. You don’t want to be to vigorous with your massage, and there are specific techniques that are helpful with, for example, digestion. There are a lot of books and videos on baby massage, but I see no particular reason to part from the classics.

Frédérick Leboyer, Loving Hands: The Traditional Indian Art of Baby Massage (1976). The first and by far most influential birth and baby book I ever read was Leboyer’s Birth Without Violence. Loving Hands continues that gentle approach to parenting to encourage loving touch. Now available in paperback as Loving Hands: The Traditional Art of Baby Massage.

Vimala Schneider McClure, Infant Massage (1978). Another classic drawn from experience with south Asian massage has been revised over the past 30 years and is still in print. The author is the founder of the International Association of Infant Massage, and revisions of her book have been influenced by the experiences of infant massage teachers.

To all of the fathers ready to bond with your babies, I wish you the best on your baby massage adventure. It’s a beautiful time to spend with a baby.

Image © Dmitry Naumov | Dreamstime.com