Wondering how you can help as a first-time dad with a newborn? New dads don’t need to feel left out, there are plenty of ways you can bond with your baby and support your partner so you’re a strong family unit, right from the start. Follow these new-dad tips for advice on everything from how dads can help during labour to father-baby bonding.
Get ready to shine in your new role as a hands-on dad with these 10 tips!
1. Prepare yourself for the birth
Reading up on what to expect and joining some online forums will show your partner that you’re taking a real interest in the pregnancy and birth of your baby. Plus, you’ll understand exactly what they’re talking about when they mention something pregnancy related.
Doing a pregnancy and birthing class together is also a fantastic idea, it’ll help you understand how to help during labour, as well as being a great way to meet other first-time parents with babies that will be around the same age. It might be an opportunity to expand your support network!
2. Wondering how you can help with a newborn?
At the hospital they’ll often offer support classes for new parents which cover how to change a nappy, bathe a newborn and help your crying baby. This will help you feel more confident to help when your baby comes home.
Here are a couple of ideas for how you can help when you get home:
- You could offer to take some of the night shift to give your partner a break. If you’re bottle-feeding expressed breastmilk, then this is a great opportunity for you to enjoy some twilight feeds together and encourage father-baby bonding from the start
- You could be the one who burps, changes and settles baby after a feed.
3. Learn your baby’s cues
Look out for early signs of baby hunger cues, nappy change time and tired cues so you can support your baby’s routine before they start crying. Your partner will appreciate not being the only master at reading baby cues and will love having the help.
Signs for a hungry baby can include sucking on hands, rooting and smacking lips together. Your baby’s tired cues can include yawning, irritability, and a glazed stare.
4. Get lots of skin-to-skin contact
Placing your naked baby (apart from nappy) on your bare chest has so many benefits—from regulating baby’s heart rate and temperature, to relaxing them and helping you to bond.
A great time for dad skin-to-skin contact is after you’ve given your baby a bath, first thing in the morning or when you’re settling them back to sleep. You’ll no doubt enjoy the father-baby bonding as much as they do.
5. Talking to your newborn
Every word your baby hears helps to develop their language skills and strengthen your relationship with them. So as well as reading to your baby, give them a running commentary on what you’re doing, no matter how mundane the task might be—“I’m just packing the dishwasher so our plates are clean”, as well as whispering sweet nothings and telling them how much you love them of course.
6. Offer breastfeeding support
You can help in so many ways, whether it’s making your partner comfortable with pillows and back rubs, bringing them a glass of water whenever it’s needed (mums can get very thirsty as their milk starts to flow), or simply listening if they’re struggling.
Breastfeeding can be challenging, particularly in the early days, so find out about breastfeeding support services that you can call on if your partner needs help.
7. Take care of your relationship after baby has come along
Having a baby is a life-changing experience—and it may not turn out to be the romantic picture of parenthood you had in mind—so it’s more important than ever to be open and honest with each other about how you’re feeling and any strains it’s putting on the relationship.
Yes, there may be a new VIP in town, but show your partner how much you love them. Pamper them (think post-pregnancy massage), give them a break, talk and listen. If you and your partner are feeling like you need more time adjusting to life as the three of you, just say no (politely) to guests when it becomes too much, so they don’t have to. There’s plenty of time for people to see your new addition.
8. Self-care for dads
It’s important that you take good care of yourself, so you can help take better care of your family. Try to get some regular exercise—pushing the pram up hills provides a pretty good workout—and take turns doing the night shift where possible so you can both sleep as much as possible.
Keep in contact with family and friends you can share the highs and lows of parenting with. It helps to talk through the difficult moments and they might even have their own first-time dad tips to offer. Don’t forget to make sure your partner gets some self-care time too!
9. Sharing household duties
In the first few weeks after the birth, consider the amount of household chores you can help with while your partner establishes their milk supply and adjusts to being a new mum.
Surprising your partner with a cooked meal or snacks you know they like will be greatly appreciated. As you get into the rhythm of things, have a chat about how you’ll be sharing parenting and household duties so you’re clear on who’s doing what.
10. Take lots of photos!
The first weeks and months of parenthood may fly by in a blur and your baby changing is every day. Make sure you’re both taking lots of pictures to document it of you and your partner with your beautiful new bundle of joy.
They’ll likely have their hands full with baby, so next time you spot a picture opportunity—and they happen every day at feeding time, story time, bath time—capture it. It doesn’t have to be to styled and posed to post on social media to be a valuable memory for you and your partner to look back on in years to come.