13 Ways Dads Can Be Involved in Baby Care

The first few weeks of being a father are the greatest and most frustrating. You are there every moment, wanting to help and contribute. Ultimately, it is difficult for new fathers to connect and interact with a newborn baby in the same way a mother can. We can’t get enough of breastfeeding. There’s that special connection between mom and baby that we can’t replicate. However, this does not mean that fathers cannot be a huge help! Here are some notes I took after my daughter Adley was born on how I could best help my husband. These are more than suggestions. With another baby on the way this spring, they are a great reminder for me too!

13 Ways to Get Dads Involved in Baby Care

Here are some ways to be a better father and partner when your baby arrives:

1. Know What Your Partner Needs

It may seem simple, but it can be easy to get overwhelmed by the craziness of childbirth and the aftermath. Your partner likely just went through a traumatic birth experience and will need time to recover. Ask what you can do to help him during that time. Sometimes, a new father must nurse the baby for a few hours to get him to sleep. Other times, it means watching older children so she has time to bond with the new baby. Make sure your partner feels loved and supported, especially in those early days.

2. Communicate Clearly with the Labor Division

One of the biggest hurdles new parents face is not communicating wants and expectations. It’s an easy thing to put aside when you’re sleep-deprived and dealing with a whole new reality. Making sure you’re both on the same page leads to greater understanding and a happier environment for everyone (including the baby). A 2020 study on fathers’ involvement with newborns found that both parents were happier when things were clearly communicated and tasks were distributed evenly, compared to leave most of the work to the mother.1

3. Help With Overnight Feeding

This is what I can’t recommend to dads. There can be pressure on mothers to hold all overnight feedings, especially if they are breastfeeding. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. When my daughter, Adley, was born in 2020, my husband and I rotated feedings through the night. I will give Adley a bottle of breastmilk or formula when it’s my turn. This not only allowed me to take some of the burden off my husband but also allowed us to get some sleep. Five to six hours in a row can make a big difference.

4. Make the most of Your Baby’s Portability

Speaking from experience, it can be easy to fall into the trap of keeping your baby indoors too much. It’s safe, everything you need is close by, and it’s predictable. But take advantage of your baby’s portability. Dads, if you need to run to the hardware store or see a friend, take the baby with you! Getting out into different environments is good stimulation for a baby. Plus, it’s easier to do before they become too mobile.

5. Take a Break from Work

Let me preface this by saying that I know this won’t be an option for everyone. Only 11 states and the District of Columbia offer paid family leave, the hours of which vary from state to state.2 But if your job offers paternity leave, or you have vacation time, TAKE IT! A 2019 study found that children whose fathers took at least two weeks off from work felt a closer bond nine years later.3 It will also help to establish a routine with your baby to make life easier for mom and dad.

6. Have Fun With Your Baby

Those first few weeks include learning your baby’s needs and finding a routine. Soon, you’ll notice they’re more awake and aware of what’s going on around them. While doing things like skin-to-skin contact with baby and father is important, don’t forget to take time to enjoy the happy moments, too. Play peek-a-boo, make silly faces, and have tummy time. These unforgettable moments will help create a stronger bond between daddy and baby.

7. Offer Your Partner a Break

Childbirth is the equivalent of major surgery. But unlike major surgeries, a little person will go home with you, and it’s your job to keep it alive. Between recovery and breastfeeding, your spouse/partner is likely to be physically and mentally dehydrated. Offer to step in and help as much as you can. Take the baby for a walk around the neighborhood or offer to put the baby down for a nap. Even the smallest of gestures can make a difference and lead to a happier and healthier marriage.

8. Master the Diaper

Before my daughter Adley was born, I changed zero diapers. I can probably count on one hand how many babies I’ve held too. This is to say that I have no experience and no idea what I’m doing. The good news is that I learned how to change diapers quickly. You will too! I assigned myself the job of a diaper changer. I’m sure it’s in the “How to be a Good Dad” handbook. It’s a task no one wants to do, but I know it’s something I can take off my wife’s plate. Practice on a doll before the baby arrives, and watch how the hospital nurses do it. You will quickly become an expert, who will be very popular at home.

9. Clean Bottles and Bottles

After becoming a father, I didn’t expect how much extra cleaning it would require. Washing bottles is a time-consuming daily task. If your partner is breastfeeding, the pump should also be cleaned regularly. My suggestion is not to ask; Do it. This is one of the best ways to make yourself useful when baby is napping or spending time with mom.

10. Help Manage Visitors

When the baby is born, EVERYONE wants to meet them. It’s a special time, and it can be wonderful to share. But it can also be overwhelming. Act as a gatekeeper. Determine when is a good time and when is a bad time to have visitors. Also, don’t be afraid to end a visit early or cancel. They will understand. This is your baby; you have to make the rules.

11. Read to Your Baby

It may seem strange to read to a baby who only opens their eyes for a few minutes at a time. But it can make a big difference. An Ohio State study found that children who were read just one book a day by their parents heard about 290,000 more words by the time they entered kindergarten compared to children who were not read to. .4 Even early on, the benefits can be significant.

12. Cook Dinner

It’s not directly related to caring for a baby, but dads who do it know why it’s important. Between recovery and possible breastfeeding, your partner will be more tired than you. Cooking her favorite meal or something simple for the two of you will take a load off her shoulders. It was one less thing he had to think about. It’s also something you’ll both enjoy together.

13. Plan a Date Night

Nothing will change your life like having a baby. You no longer have the freedom to go out when you want or spend time together like you used to. Once your partner is fully recovered, find a babysitter and have the night to yourself. It can be easy to get lost in parenting and forget about each other, but nothing strengthens a family more than a happy mom and dad.

Seeing your baby born will be one of the most memorable moments of your life, and that’s when the hard part begins. There’s no shortage of ways dads can help with baby care, especially in those early days and months. That doesn’t mean simply saying, “Let me know how I can help.” Offer specific ideas, find out what chores burden your partner the most, and, above all, listen. Being a caring father is a skill that will come in handy. It will also allow for bonding between a father and newborn, creating a connection that can last a lifetime.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button