What are some ways for daddies to bond with babies that aren't feeding-related? What does your partner do with your little one?
Ways for dads to bond with babies?
We haven't had a baby for a while, but both my ex and dh did a lot. I breastfed - and, in the early days, that was pretty much all I did. The dads changed them, cuddled them, bathed them, walked the floor when the baby was tired, etc. (This was especially true in the first few weeks, as I had all mine by c-section, and was in rough shape.)
Babies need so much care, and I think all forms of caring for another person are bonding. For some reason, we have a cultural fixation on the feeding part (which is huge, don't get me wrong!), and overlook the rest of it.
Agree with PP: changing diapers, holding, walking, talking to them, putting them to bed, bathing them, playing with them, rocking, taking them for walks, reading to them. With older babies: listening to music (dh introduced both kids to heavy metal bands when they were babies), feeding them solids, more playing, taking them to playgroups, story time, swimming lessons etc.
My DH did a TON of babycare, starting from day 1, and my kids have an incredible bond with him now. I made sure to even leave the babies alone with their dad for a little while here and there (a shower, a quick grocery run -- whatever I could do between feedings!) right from the start, rather than being there to micromanage the way he did things. And his style is still different from mine, but so awesome in its own right, and I couldn't be happier with the bond he and the kids share.
I agree with the others...everything I do except breastfeed. There is absolutely no reason or excuse a father can't "do it all" the same as mothers. My dh changed all my babies' diapers if he was home the first few weeks...so if he was able to take 4 days off for the birth, I did not change a diaper for those 4 days! He definately took care of the babies for me to shower. He can get them to sleep if I am not home at nap/bedtime (now for this most recent baby, she will NOT have him when she wakes in the night, it has to be boobs or she is hysterical) He gave the bottles when we were trying to have them get used to bottles so I could get some sleep. He tried pacifiers when I felt we needed to. He does the "bad" stuff, like pulling out splinters and washing scraped knees, and when my 7 week old was hospitalized and given a cath to take her urine he stayed with her when I couldn't bear to :( He is able to deal with things now with our teen girls that I am not very good at dealing with.
When the babies were newborns, he would often sit and play songs and sing and rock with them, and my 20 month old's bedtime routine is for him to get her pj's on, then to sit and have a snack and the music with daddy before I nurse her for bed. If I am not home she will just go on to sleep while sitting with him but I am most likely home at night.