Dad and Toddler Bonding

It may appear that little kids naturally gravitate toward their mothers, but a strong bond can definitely develop and thrive between toddlers and their dads. If you give Dad some time to form his own kind of connection, the result will be a happy, healthy relationship -- which can help boost your toddler’s development. Here’s how to encourage toddler and dad bonding.

Step back.
Allow Dad some space to work on his parenting style, even if it means biting your tongue when he sings silly song lyrics or dresses your toddler in stripes and plaids. Try not to critique his method, make suggestions, or step in to help; rather, let him figure out his own way. After all, your toddler won’t mind if his pants and shirt don’t match!

Time it right.
As you know, toddler moods can be hard to predict: One minute your little one is playing nicely, and the next he’s in tears. Toddler bonding -- and a positive experience -- won’t easily occur if your tot is having a meltdown. Give Dad a fighting chance and schedule their time together when your toddler is rested and relaxed, usually in the morning or after his nap.

Embrace the difference.
Got a Dad who’s artsy-crafty? Or one who loves sports? Whether baking or biking is his passion, dad bonding is enhanced when he shares a favorite activity with his toddler. Dads, of course, play differently than moms, so your toddler will be thrilled with the change of pace and the games he introduces. These new activities for your toddler will expose him to different ideas and forms of play, helping boost your toddler’s mental and physical development.

Start a tradition.
Saturday morning could be Dad’s special waffle day. Or sign the two of them up for evening swimming lessons. Toddlers thrive on routines, so a regular outing to the park or a nightly tuck-in from Dad is comforting both because it’s familiar and it works to bring them closer together.

Daily interaction together is the best way to form a strong dad-toddler bond. Simply being available to cuddle, hug, read a book, or sing a song means as much (or more) than a big outing to the circus. Dads play a special role in their toddlers’ lives, so celebrate this unique bond!