Newborn Tips for First-Time Dads
Welcome to parenthood! Becoming a dad for the first time is one of the most exciting life transitions you’ll ever go through, but it’s normal to feel a bit overwhelmed when you meet your baby for the first time.
You may not have been the one carrying your little one, but as soon as they’re out in the world, there’s lots you can do to help as you get used to your role as dad. Here are our top tips for first-time dads...
Get hands on
Bathing, nappy changes, burping – yep, the only thing that men can’t do is breastfeed, so everything else should be a shared responsibility! No matter how mum delivers, she’ll need plenty of time to rest and recuperate, so get ready to get stuck in and give your partner a break. Even if your little one is being breastfed, you could maybe approach your partner about expressing a few bottles so that you can have that experience with your new baby.
We know when you’re faced with a tiny, fragile human for the first time it can feel a bit overwhelming, but the more time you spend helping out, the more your self-confidence will grow and the easier it’ll become.
Sleep when you can
You may have heard people saying, ‘sleep when the baby sleeps,’ but newborn’s sleep patterns are anything but predictable! Grabbing an hour of sleep at 2pm when they’ve finally settled down for a nap can help you feel a little less drained, but really, teamwork could be the best way to get some uninterrupted sleep.
Try taking it in turns with your partner to get up with your baby during the night, so that you’re both getting some solid periods of sleep. Or take turns doing alternate night and day shifts – whatever works best and leaves you both feeling rested.
Find ways to bond
It's no secret that babies need lots of care and attention, but the way you interact with your baby will help shape their future selves. Dads can sometimes take a little longer to bond as they miss out on the direct contact of breastfeeding, but there are plenty of fun ways to connect with your baby as you both learn more about each other. You could try:
- Copying their facial expressions
- Singing, reading and talking to them
- Playing peek-a-boo
- Walk with your baby in a carrier close to your body
- Regularly massaging and cuddling your baby
Try skin to skin
Skin to skin contact is thought to have lots of positive benefits for both mother and baby, calming and relaxing them both and helping baby get used to life outside the womb. Women get skin to skin contact during breastfeeding, but there’s no reason for dads to miss out. It can help you bond with your little one, so try holding your baby close as often as you can – it’ll be a wonderful experience for you both.
Accept offers of help
Your family and friends will want to support you during this exciting but hectic time, so let them! Whether they’re bringing you a home-cooked meal or offer to take care of your little one for a few hours to catch up on your sleep, take them up on it. They won’t care if your house isn’t spotless or if you have baby sick down your t-shirt, promise.
Look after your partner
If you’re in the position where your partner has just given birth, the whirlwind of hormones that come along with this may mean that your partner needs a little extra care. Make sure to be extra supportive and communicative. Think about ways that you can make her day easier – maybe bring a snack whilst they’re feeding the baby? Or perhaps there’s a pile of laundry that just keeps building up? Ask your partner what you can do to help – trust us, they’ll appreciate the help.
Look after yourself
Becoming a parent is a big change for new dads, too, so you’ll need to make sure you’re not running on empty. Make sure that you’re eating well, sleeping enough (well, as much as you can!) and talking to your friends and family for support.
GOING BACK TO WORK
You may have some conflicting feelings about going back to work once your paternity leave has ended. On one hand, it’s nice to be settling into a routine again, on the other hand, it can be really tough to leave your little one after you’ve started to bond. You may also be worried about how you’ll balance your work life and home life, but thankfully, there are plenty of ways to make the transition easier.
- Come back slowly – Before you go on paternity leave, have a chat with your boss to see if there are ways they can support you when you return to work, such as flexible hours or the option to work from home occasionally.
- Set some boundaries – You might not be used to turning down post-5 o’clock meetings or leaving the office on time, but when you have a baby, it’s important to remind your colleagues you’ll all need to adjust to your new schedule. That doesn’t mean you can’t be flexible – you can offer to respond to emails after your baby has gone to sleep, for example – but it will help you get a better balance.
- Prepare for a bit of guilt – It’s natural to feel guilty about leaving your partner at home with your baby, so talk to them about how you can make them feel supported through the transition.
- Put your phone away – After work, unless you’re checking emails during an agreed time frame, put that phone down! You don’t want to miss out on any precious time with your baby.
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