Having your first baby is quite challenging for both Mom and Dad. While the mother’s role is quite apparent, the dad’s role can vary significantly depending on the culture and is not as precisely defined. Even though parents are very interested in their child’s positive growth, when they face a newborn baby, dads are often puzzled about the actions and responsibilities they can be helpful in. For all the first-time fathers, we’ve rounded up a list of seven practical tips so that they can step in the game and be at least partly prepared.
It’s Your Turn New Dads
With a baby around, the first thing to do is to accept your new role. You’re as important and responsible for your baby’s wellbeing as your partner and not just someone who can step in and out of the role according to the situation. Remember, you’re not a babysitter; your duties and responsibilities are now 24/7, so you should act accordingly.
Diapers Don’t Bite
Changing a diaper for the first time is gross, I agree, but it’s not any easier for your partner either. Everything about the baby is so cute and gentle, but not the poop. Especially the first few poops, called meconium, can be pretty disturbing, not so much because of their smell, as they are odorless, but because of their looks – dark green, almost black, and resembling tar. That’s pretty normal though.
Very soon, your baby’s poop will start changing both in its texture and color, and so will the odor. These colors shouldn’t concern you unless they are white or red – in these cases, call your pediatrician. As diaper changing is one of the basic parenting duties, you better get used to it as soon as possible.
Make a Good Medical Plan
Complications don’t happen very often, but both you and your partner will feel more peaceful if you make smart medical decisions in advance and know how to deal with problems if they occur.
Both medicine and technology are constantly advancing and some procedures could be helpful should any emergency ever happen. One such procedure has the leftover blood from your baby’s umbilical cord and placenta harvested and stored in a cord blood bank. This procedure is painless, and hematopoietic stem cells found in this blood can cure numerous diseases.
In addition, share with your partner all the details on your baby’s health, and be sure where you can find all the information on prescriptions, insurance, incident reports, etc.
Share Feeding Duties
There are many ways to feed a baby, which means you can have your own role in the process. Even if your partner is breastfeeding, there are many ways to be useful and help her get through, as it’s not always as simple as it looks. Sometimes the baby won’t latch, or your partner may have inflammation of the breast called mastitis – you can support them easily if you know what’s happening.
When the bottle comes into play, you’ll be able to provide more than support – take your shifts with a bottle. Feeding your baby is best in a peaceful and quiet setting, with dimmed lights. New dads, I encourage you to try skin to skin with your baby while feeding, to feel the oxytocin rising – it’s the chemistry of love.
Prepare for Night Shifts
Even before you start taking your turn feeding with the bottle, you can play a significant part during those first months of sleepless nights.
Calm your baby down when he’s crying, change his diapers, bring him to your partner to breastfeed, and then transfer him back into his bassinet – I know it seems tiring, but it will help you bond with your baby and give your partner some time for some much-needed rest.
When bottle-feeding starts, be prepared to take night shifts whenever you can and share this responsibility with your partner. To support your significant other, you can consider taking a paternal leave.
Help Establish a Sleep Routine
Your newborn will, on average, sleep from 16-17 hours, on and off during day and night. When they wake from a sleep cycle, after 20-40 minutes, they’ll wiggle and fuss a bit. Unless it’s time for your baby to eat, you should fight the urge to immediately pick him up. Learn more healthy sleep habits here or by taking Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny’s online course, Sleep Coaching 101.
Even if you’re exhausted during your regular night shift, never fall asleep with the baby on your chest or in your bed, as it may have fatal consequences.
Play With Your Baby Early On
For proper development, your baby needs various simulations, so it’s crucial to establish some playtime activities from the very beginning. You can talk to your baby in various ways, read a book, sing or play some relaxing or joyful music. It might not seem like it, but talking does wonders for their brain development, and it will allow you to create an even stronger bond with your little one.
New dads, don’t let all those new responsibilities scare you. Seeing your newborn for the first time is exciting, and all the love you feel makes things much easier. Remember, that your life will get back to normal after a while.
About The Author
Stephen Jones is a freelance writer and a new father. “Becoming a father for the first time is not easy, but it is so much happiness that complicated things are handled in the best way because the baby is the fruit of love and he brings great satisfaction.” Stephen enjoys writing about health, food, nutrition, and children’s health for other parents. “Freelance writing has always been my passion so I combined the two and hopes to be able to share my passion with others!”
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