As Father’s Day approaches, I thought it would be appropriate to pass on a few words of wisdom, directed at new dads. Becoming a parent is one of the biggest life changing events and I am pretty sure that it is totally impossible to fully explain just how much of a change will take place. But what is important is to remember just what a wonderful change it is and take in some words of experience from people like me – because I always said and will always say that having children is the absolutely the most rewarding and the best part of life!
20 Tips for New Dads
- Remember your relationship: Once the baby enters the world, your relationship is likely to change. Now is the time to cement the love that you have for each other and talk about the demands that will be upon you both after the birth. Act now to remind each other of romance and the partnership that you share.
- Remember that babies aren’t really breakable. Don’t be afraid to hold yours! Ask someone who is around to show you some great holds for little ones whether it be a midwife, doctor, nurse, doula, mom, relative, friend, etc.
- If you are feeling left out talk to your partner about it. Chances are it’s not on purpose.
- New moms often have emotional ups and downs that are not predictable. Be supportive and offer an ear when possible. Learn the warning signs of postpartum depression and seek help if the situation is heading out of control.
- Support her with breastfeeding. Tell her that you’re proud of her and protect her from well meaning but negative comments about breastfeeding. Take a breastfeeding class during the prenatal period if possible.
- Help with the other children or household. Remind mom to let the house go and to focus on her recovery and the new baby.
- New dads can also experience the blues or postpartum depression. Much in your life has changed and its important to realize this and get help if you need it as well.
- If you need help ask for it. Know who to call in your area for help and support whether it be a doctor or midwife, a postpartum doula, lactation consultant, or the local babysitter. And don’t ever be ashamed to go for help to your family – admitting that you may need help shows that you care and nothing other.
- Mom is going to need extra sleep and care while her body recovers. Get up with the baby when you can. Bring the baby to her in the middle of the night if possible. If you must go back to work check in with her during the day. Perhaps surprise her with some healthy take out food or fresh flowers.
- Remember that adding a new baby to the mix is always going to stir your life up a bit, even if it’s not your first baby. Learning to live with another human being takes time. Give yourself a break if you need it as well.
- Take an interest: Browsing the baby aisle at the supermarket may not be your idea of retail therapy but your partner will swoon at the very sight of pretty bibs, adorable bootees and colorful linen. If she asks your opinion, try to give a well-formed one instead of shrugging “I don’t know, Darling”.
- Attend doctor’s visits: You won’t know the wonder of seeing your very own baby growing and developing unless you go along to visits to the doctor. Why not go out for lunch afterwards and make a real event of it?
- Share in the care: On nights when you have to work the next day, your sleep is important but when you have the next day off, it can be a huge relief to take over the night feeds or, if your partner is breastfeeding, keep her company during feeds.
- Help around the house: If you haven’t been a housework helper in the past, now is the time to change that, even if it’s until your partner is feeling like her old self again. Doing the shopping, vacuuming the floor and preparing meals are huge contributions at this point in time.
- Change diapers: Come on, it’s not that hard! Imagine if you were left to change every single diaper. Taking a break from it is a delight so if you can afford your partner that opportunity now and then, she’ll adore you. Remember that the only thing you can’t do is breastfeed. You can change diapers, soothe a crying baby, carry the baby, play with the baby, anything the baby needs done.
- Be the hero: Contrary to the popular image of besotted, doting mothers, new Moms are often tired, stressed and hard to please. This passes so do your best to bear with it and maintain your understanding nature. Defend her to others and be her hero as much as possible. This will ensure that life returns to normal peacefulness sooner rather than later.
- Try to be home on time: Work is vital to keep the income flowing in, but right now, you also need to concentrate on that work/life balance. Make every effort to be home on time until a routine is established.
- Get to know your beautiful child: You have a new son or daughter. The responsibility can seem overwhelming but don’t forget to enjoy him or her. Every day is a precious gift so spend time getting to know your little one. Play, talk, feed, watch … they change very quickly, don’t miss out.
- Count your blessings: Look around you. You have a partner who has given you the gift of a son or daughter and you yourself have helped to create a brand new life. Whether you have the world at your feet or you are making do with second hand nursery furniture, be thankful for what you have and encourage your family to feel that way as well.
- Be the Dad you want to be: Not every father is hands-on and not all new Dads go ga-ga over tiny babies. What matters is that you can be relied upon and that you love your family. Compromises can always be made on specific roles and tasks.
Enjoy your family and revel in how it makes you feel. One day you may want to create another little addition so pave the way now for a comfortable, secure relationship by being a great Dad today.