Becoming a father for the first time can be a bit intimidating. OK, maybe it is downright terrifying. While fatherhood can be one of the most amazing highlights of your life, it also comes with uncertainties and fears that you now hold a precious life in your hands. Intense emotions, coupled with a lack of sleep in those first days after you come home with a newborn – can be challenging. That is why Care Net is here to help. Sometimes new dads just need a few tips on where to start and how to be the most impactful once their little one is home. Here is some great advice to help you enjoy fatherhood to the fullest.
Commit to hands-on daily care
Building your skills and confidence in any aspect of life requires practice. Get into the routine of doing something and soon, you will master it. Taking care of a baby is no different. New dads must get their hands dirty – no pun intended – right from the very beginning. Before their babies leave the hospital, dads should be helping with their daily care. Dress them, feed them, bathe them, and – yes – change their diapers. When dads spend one-on-one time with their babies, it helps develop an unbreakable bond while developing self-confidence in their parenting abilities. As a bonus, it gives their partners a chance to get some much-needed rest.
Connect through touch
Newborns do not have the best eyesight. At birth, it is somewhere between 20/200 and 20/400. In other words, if something is not within 8 inches, they likely cannot see it well. This is one of many reasons why babies connect best through touch. Skin-to-skin time with birth mothers helps regulate babies’ body temperatures, breathing, and heart rate. Consistent emotional and physical engagement of babies helps their brains develop and provides a sense of comfort and safety. Some studies suggest that babies who have more physical contact with their moms and dads cry less and sleep better. Dads should hold their babies close to their chests so their babies can hear their hearts beating.
Talk to your little one
It is never too soon to start developing a baby’s language skills. Dads can practice talking to their babies by describing things they are doing. For instance, if they are changing a diaper, they can talk the baby through the process and say comforting things like “there we go, dry diaper, all better!” Singing songs and reading bedtime stories also help the baby stay calm and get more familiar with the language and sounds. The more frequently babies hear their parents’ voices, the easier it becomes for them to pick them out from other adults.
Make time for your partner
Having a baby can strain even the best relationships. Staying positive and supporting your partner can help strengthen your connection. Negotiating baby care and discussing parenting expectations before bringing the baby home from the hospital is the best way to ensure no resentment builds. Communication is the key to a happy family. Discuss everything from parenting styles to expectations about intimacy before the baby is here to ensure everyone is on the same page. Be open to discussing feelings before they turn into resentment.
Know when to seek help
Care Net Pregnancy Center is not just about free pregnancy testing (although we offer that, too). We offer valuable resources for men only to help them prepare for fatherhood. Our pregnancy and parenting education classes help both expectant dads and moms prepare for their new arrival. Reach out today to find out how we can help.