When it comes to bonding with baby, dad can sometimes feel left out. After all, between pregnancy, breastfeeding and many one-on-one moments on maternity leave, mom has ample opportunity to cuddle and spend time with the little one. As a dad, know that there are plenty of ways for you to establish and foster a strong bond with your baby. Here are our baby bonding tips for dads:

Start before birth – Start the bonding process before baby’s even born. Babies can hear your voice and recognize your voice as early as the second trimester. Talk, sing and read to your partner’s belly, and baby will recognize you after he’s born.

Give a lot of cuddles – One reason breastfeeding is said to contribute to strong bonds between moms and babies is because nursing involves a lot of cuddles. Human touch, especially skin-to-skin contact, is soothing for both baby and you so give a lot of hugs.

Volunteer for the night shift – Let baby know that dad is just as comforting as mom by being available when he needs you at all times. Take on the middle-of-the night bottle feeds or burping duty after your partner nurses.

Change diapers – Give regular diaper changes to help baby know that both mommy and daddy are there when he needs them.

Wear a carrier – Whether you’re going for a walk, dancing around the living room or sweeping the floors, wearing baby in a carrier while you move is a great way to form a close bond.

Give baths – Give the baby his baths and even consider joining him! Getting into the tub with your little one will help him feel safe while also providing a great opportunity for daddy and baby bonding as you explore the water together.

Attend doctor appointments – New babies go to their doctors for “well checkups” often. With work commitments, it might be easy to skip these appointments, but try not to. This is a great opportunity for you to learn about your little one’s development and what to expect in the coming months. Learning more information will help you feel closer to your baby.

Read to baby – Babies love the sound of familiar voices. Read bedtime stories or even just the pages for your favourite newspaper sport section. Your baby will hold on to your every word!

Schedule one-on-one time – Give mom a few hours to herself on a regular basis and set time aside to spend with your baby. Attend play groups with other dads, take a walk through the neighbourhood or simply enjoy some quiet time together on the couch.

Get silly – There’s nothing more enjoyable for baby (and you) than silly faces and sounds. Show your fun side and share a laugh and a squeal with your little one as often as you can.

There are many ways dads can bond with their babies, whether they’re breastfeeding or not. Positive interaction, attention and love all contribute to a healthy, loving bond between baby and both parents.