Often times mothering is second nature to women, whereas new dads have to warm up to parenthood. Societal norms can make women feel they have to do it all – but they don’t. You don’t. An all-hands-on-deck approach can simplify parenting, especially with a newborn. Here are some ways to get your husband or partner more involved as a new dad.
1. Skin-to-Skin Contact
Skin-to-skin contact has myriad benefits for babies, like maintaining a healthy weight and promoting optimal brain development. Skin-to-skin contact fosters bonding between babies and parents and can facilitate attachment.
Mothers typically get this attachment within the first hour after the baby is born, especially if they breastfeed. New dads can benefit from skin-to-skin contact by forming a bond with the baby as a newborn. There are many ways you can encourage skin-to-skin contact, like having Dad take his shirt off and hold the baby while he lays in bed or relaxes on the couch.
2. Share Baby Duties
From changing diapers and getting up in the middle of the night to bath time and regular care, taking care of an infant is a full-time job. Take advantage of paternity leave if your partner’s job offers it, because you’ll need all the help you can get.
If that isn’t an option, encourage your husband to take breaks from work so they can be more available to you and the baby. Taking breaks from work can be essential for mental health, but 9% of Americans don’t utilize their PTO days. While being home with a new baby is no vacation, it can be beneficial for mom, dad and baby.
Make a list for the new dad in your life so he knows how he can help. Divide the tasks between the two of you to establish a healthy balance. Dirty diapers, putting Baby down for a nap, burping, and bath time are examples of jobs you can share responsibility for. While he can’t help breastfeed, he can help wash pumping parts, throw a load of laundry in, or prepare dinner while you are nursing.
3. Leave Them Alone
Encourage time for Dad and Baby to bond without you hovering or instructing Dad on what to do. Give him the freedom to problem-solve and navigate parenting in his own way. Respect his choices and allow him to be an equal parenting partner. Often, women take the reins because they are naturally inclined to nurture and protect their children – but men are too.
Give him time to form an attachment with the baby without you nearby, allowing them some one-on-one time. Dads need quality time with babies to form an emotional attachment to them. Encourage new dads to trust their instincts and learn how to communicate with the baby. Although babies can’t talk, they will let you know when something is off. This can also give you a much-needed break and give you time to prioritize your self-care, which is essential to your mental health.
4. Stay on the Same Page
If you’re both new to parenting, consider learning together by taking a class or reading parenting books. Ensure he is part of the process rather than just asking him to do things when you can’t. Your husband is your teammate, so ensure you’re treating him as such. Don’t nag at him about how to do things differently. You’re experiencing parenting together.
Getting frustrated and feeling like you’re in over your head is completely normal. Try deep breathing exercises to calm down and not take your frustrations out on him. He likely wants to help in any way he can – he just needs some direction. Take time to sit down together, develop a game plan to share responsibilities, and keep your lines of communication open so you’re always on the same page about parenting.
New Dad: Getting Involved
While women get to connect with the baby when pregnant, men have to wait until the baby is born to be a part of their life. This can be intimidating for dads who might not know how to help. Utilize these tips to help Dad navigate their transition into parenting and learn how to offer help around the house and with the baby. Even with both parents sharing newborn duties, there is a lot to do as new parents. Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny offers postpartum support and newborn care if you are looking for some extra help as you transition into parenthood; we are here to support you.
About The Author
Cora Gold is a mother and writer who aims to connect with other moms through her experiences with navigating motherhood. Cora is the Editor-in-Chief of Revivalist magazine and writes for sites including For Every Mom, MommyBites and Playground Professionals. When she’s not writing about style and beauty for her magazine, Revivalist, she loves to share her experience with family life. Follow Cora on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.