Back in ‘the day,‘ the expectation was often that Mommy would take care of all things related to baby care, as Daddy was simply required to provide for the family’s provisions and protection. Those days are no more! As most women either chose or need to work a job of their own, the need for dads to to assume more responsibility in the home is increasing. And when there is a brand new baby in the house, it is incredibly important for fathers to step up and get involved—not only for Mom’s sake, but for the sake of his own relationship with his child.

Bonding with a newborn often comes easier to mom; in all fairness, she has had a nine month head start!  However, dads still can and do have powerful connections with their babies. Here are some of the most critical opportunities for making that happen:

Feeding Time: Taking turns is especially easy if you are feeding your child with formula, but even if Mom is nursing, Dad can take his turn by feeding the infant with bottles of pre-pumped breast milk. Coordinate a schedule so you both can split the responsibility: alternate every other feeding or take shifts.

Diaper Duty: Yes, the little stinkers can (and should) be changed by Daddy too!  This may seem like an unlikely time for bonding, but talking and making funny faces and those silly noises while changing the diapers is actually a great opportunity to connect with your baby. As your new blessing will use some 8-14 diapers a day, there are more than enough opportunities for both parents to take turns.

Playing Around:  Dad should always have a special time where he can play with his little one, especially if he’s out the house for most of the day. When this becomes a part of your routine, it will create great memories.  It will not only give your child the delight of Dad’s undivided attention, but it will also give Mom a much-needed break.

Doctor’s Appointments: If possible, both parents should take babies to the hospital/clinic for those wellness checkups. Mom and Dad can always alternate taking care of a sick little one or visiting the doctor, so as baby grows, both parents are playing significant roles in keeping their child healthy and supporting him/her in an often scary situation.

Bedtime: Newborns tend to have unique sleep schedules; it’s unlikely that your baby will go down at 9pm and stay asleep until 7am. With a screaming baby waking up every few hours to inform you that he or she is wet, hungry or just in need of a little love, it is best for both partners to take part in the bedtime routine. Again, alternating is very important here.  Take turns bathing your baby and putting him or her to bed, and take turns waking up during the night when he or she needs you.

In establishing these habits for your baby, Daddy will not only play an intricate role in the baby’s developmental years, but he will also create a foundation for a great bond for with his family for years to come. It took two people to make that sweet little bundle of joy and there should be two of you working together to take care of him or her.

Audrey Griffin is a wife, mother of four, inspiring educator and parenting lifestyle consultant. Visit her website, check her out on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.