Much of parenting literature tends to focus on mothers and women caregivers. However, we’re happy to say that dads are getting the notice and respect they deserve. Father figures can play a huge role in the formative days (and decades) of their child’s life.
Skin-to-skin contact is often associated with breastfeeding and moms, but that’s a narrow view of this practice. This contact can be equally great between fathers and children. In fact, this skin-to-skin time is just as essential for dad and baby as it is for mom and baby — no misconceptions here.
So, let’s give the dads a little kudos. Here at Tabeeze, we know that no matter how deeply and entirely you love your little one, parenting can be a challenge. We’re here to give you all the details of how skin-to-skin contact offers health benefits to babies, fathers, and mothers. Plus, we’ll cover how to make this practice a no-fuss, no-stress part of your everyday life.
Skin to skin is great for everyone involved, regardless of if you are mom, dad, or otherwise.
What Is Skin-to-Skin Contact?
Skin-to-skin contact is a practice when a newborn who is naked, in a diaper, or a turned-down onesie, lies on the bare chest of their caregiver. This practice has been around for a long time, but only recently have we seen the science behind it. Most modern research supports skin-to-skin contact (also called “kangaroo care”) and the incredible physical and mental health benefits for newborn babies.
Calming, Soothing, and Stress-Relieving
Any direct contact with dad’s skin can help your baby regulate their stress. This direct connection soothes the baby so swiftly that it actually drops their stress hormone levels. It would almost sound like a miracle if the research wasn’t so confident about those cortisol levels dropping.
Reducing your baby’s general stress levels through direct contact with dad can decrease your baby’s crying, fussing, and squirming as well. Sounds like a dream to us!
Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels
Immediately after birth, skin-to-skin contact is important for mom — but dad can do some of the work too. Skin-to-skin that occurs just after the birthing process can help to stabilize a baby’s blood sugar levels which is a critical energy supply for newborns.
It can also encourage breastfeeding, but that’s more of a note for the expecting moms out there.
Decrease Pain & Promote Healing
If your little one has to go under any clinical procedures in their early days, skin-to-skin has been shown to decrease pain levels that they feel post-procedure. In a study of 2,000 babies, 60 to 90 seconds of skin-to-skin contact after a pain-inducing procedure like a heel stick reduced pain, crying, and irritation.
Improves Quality of Sleep
A baby’s brain development is super dependent on their sleep cycles. If we think we get a little grouchy or unfocused without sleep, babies have it far worse.
Skin-to-skin contact can lead to improved slumber for most newborns, which can help to regulate their sleep cycle and lead to healthy development.
Increased Sense of Security
Think about it: your little one just left the warmth and safety of the womb for the big and scary outside world. As much as this is exciting, it is also a huge adjustment for them to wrap their little brains around.
Skin-to-skin with dad can increase an infant's feelings of safety. As they acclimate to the warmth of their dad’s skin, the sound of your voice, and the rhythm of your breathing, they feel the comforting nostalgia from their in-womb days.
Weight Gain & Digestion
Skin-to-skin with dad reduces stress hormones in our babies (as we already learned), which allows for better nutrient absorption and overall digestion. It even decreases the likelihood of gastrointestinal issues your baby may be experiencing.
This also helps maintain the healthy fat a baby is born with, promoting weight gain and a warm body temperature.
Immune System Enhancement
Skin-to-skin contact will also stimulate a baby’s immune system.
Dads leave us with a lot of life lessons — from changing a tire to making the perfect cup of tea. But that’s not all dads can share! Through skin contact, the dad’s healthy and mature immune system can share powerful antibodies with the baby. This can create a safety layer of antibodies that may help shield the baby from harmful bacteria or threatening viruses.
Heart Rate & Breathing Improvements
This one is pretty simple. Essentially, skin-to-skin contact helps a baby learn to self-regulate. This results in a more stable, regular heartbeat and breathing pattern — which is learned through syncing up with dad.
Why Dads Will Love Skin-to-Skin Contact
While there aren’t as many physical effects to skin-to-skin for dad as compared to those that his baby will receive, dads will still love and appreciate the positive mental health benefits that this practice has to offer.
This baby-rearing practice can help dad to feel bonded with baby and confident in his connection.
It really is good for both! Additionally, many moms, especially those who are breastfeeding, might feel “touched-out,” and dad playing the part of the mama kangaroo can be a gift.
When dad spends time in skin-to-skin mode with his new paper, a serious surge of oxytocin runs through his blood. Oxytocin is known as the “feel-good” hormone; it decreases cortisol and testosterone levels and generally makes you feel happy and lovey.
This shift in hormone levels leaves dad with a sense of well-being and relaxation, which are welcome to a new parent. This also aids in the dad’s response to nurturing and showing affection to the new baby, which creates a genuine bond.
Feeling more in tune with your baby’s needs leads to overall better confidence in your parenting skills and ability to nurture. Altogether, these feelings can also lead to a sense of protectiveness in the new papa bear.
Everyone deserves the power of this awesome bonding experience.
How Should Dads Do Skin-to-Skin Contact With Their Babies?
Skin-to-skin contact can be easy and enjoyable. With a few simple steps, you will be an expert in no time.
- Set up a calm environment. If that means Dad’s favorite chill tunes or a nice cup of tea, grab the necessities. Make sure you have everything you might need (a glass of water, your cell phone, etc.); you might be there for a while.
- Dad should be seated, somewhat reclined, with his shirt entirely off or at least opened up to expose a bare chest.
- Your baby should be naked from the waist up, except for a diaper or onesie on their bottom.
- Place your baby in a vertical position up against dad’s chest. Their shoulders should be rested on or above dad’s collar bones to maximize the surface area of contact.
- Then, cover your little one to keep them warm if the temperature is chillier than their sensitive skin would like. Optimize that skin to skin by gently draping a baby blanket over their back and nothing else.
- Make sure your little one is able to wiggle and breathe. Their lovely little faces should be exposed at all times. Try to make sure their head is turned to one side with their neck straight – not extended. To make it simple, comfort is key.
- Snuggle on in. Get all of that kangaroo care time that you can! Generally speaking, 60 minutes of skin-to-skin is optimal, but we know that life happens. Revel in the time you can get to be this close with your baby, and worry more about the experience than the timing.
The Perfect Skin-to-Skin Baby Clothes
What are babies supposed to wear during their favorite skin-to-skin contact sessions? We understand that parents might be a little wary of diaper blowouts or potty accidents and want a diaper on their baby. Totally understandable.
You can absolutely keep your baby in their onesie during these bonding moments with the Tabeeze Bottom-Up Baby Bodysuit.
The Bottom-Up Baby Bodysuit is the only one of its kind; its bottom-up design enhances the skin-to-skin experience for both baby and for dad, and they’re 100% GOTS Certified Organic.
Rather than having to undress your little one entirely, our patented shoulder flaps and fumble-free snap alignment allow for quick changes — whether you’re doing kangaroo care or changing a dirty diaper on a sleeping baby in the middle of the night.
Tabezee with ease: Simply undo the snaps, fold the bodysuit down, and you are ready for skin-to-skin with ease. Who knew it could be so simple?
The Gift of Time (and Love)
Here at Tabeeze, we are big proponents of the benefits of skin-to-skin time with your new little one. Not only is it physically and mentally beneficial for your baby, but it is also beneficial for you. We’re talking to you, dads!
With our easily accessible baby bodysuit, Tabeeze is ready to make skin-to-skin the new norm for dad and make it easy. Life can be hectic, so slow down for some skin-to-skin time; these are the memories we all treasure.