Awesome Tips for a New Dad
Becoming a new dad is one of the most incredible experiences you’ll have in your lifetime. It can also be one of the most intimidating experiences as well.
As you enter into fatherhood, make sure you take note of these tips for a new dad that will help you better navigate fatherhood.
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Establish a Routine: Sleep, Eat, Change Diapers
As you begin to adjust to having a new baby, a very helpful tip for new dads is to create a daily routine you and your partner can agree to. Set up some expectations of who is doing what around the house. For a while, it may be you doing the housework. That’s ok. She is recovering from childbirth and adjusting to caring for a new baby.
In my experience, as soon as you’re able to develop some kind of routine with your baby, the easier it is to work back into daily life. You can predict the day a little bit better, even though it will be far from perfect.
As you create a new routine, you’ll quickly see that a big part of your day will have you feeding and diapering your baby and you may be wondering, “How many dirty diapers per day?” Great question! In my experience, it could be anywhere from 7 -10 diapers per day. Our pediatrician always just checked to make sure we were keeping the diaper company in business.
Another great question from new dads is, “How do I change a diaper?” So many dads have no experience in changing diapers, and that’s completely normal. Unless you’ve been around a lot of babies, or you were the oldest child with several younger siblings, changing a diaper is foreign territory. Lucky for you, there are some awesome videos that can show you how to change a diaper.
The third aspect that will have a huge impact on your daily routine is your baby’s sleep schedule. And the reality is, for the first couple of months, it could change every day, within an hour or two. But, you can certainly create a routine and stick to it the best you can.
As men, you want to take care of all things. BUT, if you have people asking how they can help, let them! If someone wants to bring you dinner, let them. If your parents want to come and hang out with the baby for an hour or two and send you and your wife to lunch, take the offer. Never be too proud to let other people help you.
Understand Baby Sleep
Baby sleep is one of the most complicated things to figure out when you have a new baby. And if you’re a new dad who has never been around babies, it can be even more overwhelming. Luckily, there are some baby cues you can watch for, as well as some helpful baby sleep tips.
The great thing about babies is that for the first several months of their life, they’ll be asleep more than awake. This means that if they’re crying, your baby may just need a nap. You can try rocking them, walking around with them snuggling them, etc.
There is a rule that if the baby is sleeping, don’t wake them. In most instances, this is true. If your doctor is concerned about your baby’s weight gain, follow their guidance and don’t skip a feeding. Otherwise, I always tried to just let our babies sleep as long as there was a good sleep/feed balance.
You can help your baby sleep by swaddling them. If you’re wondering, “How do I swaddle my baby?”, there are awesome videos that can help you learn how to swaddle your baby in a blanket. If you want a super easy swaddle option, you can try the Swaddle Me baby swaddles and have your baby in a safe swaddle in 3 easy steps!
An excellent question asked by a lot of dads is, “Where are safe places for my baby to sleep?” The basics of safe sleep involve the ABC’s. A stands for alone, B stands for placing the baby to sleep on their back, and C stands for placing the baby in their crib. Here is more info on safe sleep options.
Be Part of the Daily Routine
Dads get the opportunity to play an equally important role in the lives of their kids. Some dads take advantage of that, and others don’t as much.
I encourage you to become a part of the daily routine in your house. If she was up feeding all night, maybe you let her sleep and take the morning shift with your baby. Or if she’s exhausted from working and pumping at work all day, you can send her to bed early and take the night shift several nights out of the week.
Once you’re comfortable, you can also help with bathtime and preparing for bed. There are so many ways dads get to be a part of the early days of their baby’s life. If you aren’t sure where to jump in and help, ASK!
When you’re ready to head out to those first doctor’s appointments, you’ll need to take the diaper bag along. My bet is, she already has the diaper bag packed, but if you find yourself needing to pack the diaper bag and you’re wondering, “How do I pack the diaper bag?”, I can help! Some of the most essential items to pack in a diaper bag are diapers, wipes, pacifiers, diaper cream, toys, a blanket, a change of clothes, a couple of bottles with formula, a burp cloth, or two, and a diaper changing mat. There are plenty of other things you can throw in the diaper bag, but those are the must-haves.
Don’t Be Afraid to Fly Solo
One of the hardest things for a lot of new moms is leaving their baby for the first time. Encourage your wife to take a break and run an errand or two. Make sure you’ve taken the time to build your confidence that you can care for your baby for an hour or two while she takes a break out of the house.
If either of you isn’t ready for you to fly solo with her leaving the house, let her take a nap or a long shower while you take care of the baby. Even just having a mental break from caring for the baby is huge!
Help with Feeding Your Baby
OK, so you may read this and think, “I can’t help, she’s breastfeeding and I can’t do that for her”. And, you’re right. But there are so many other ways dads can help breastfeeding moms. You can make sure she has a breastfeeding pillow, a constantly filled water bottle, her favorite snacks at her feeding spot, a phone charger at her feeding spot, etc. You can also help with night feedings by taking the baby after feeding and then burping the baby. Then change your baby’s diaper and be the one to get the baby back to sleep.
If your baby isn’t breastfed, then you can share the feeding responsibility. You can help prepare bottles and feed the baby. You can also help with washing the bottles and re-assembling them.
If you’re sitting there thinking, “How do I prepare a bottle?”, you aren’t alone. Thankfully, prepping a baby bottle is super easy. You’ll want to pour the correct amount of water into the bottle first, then measure and place the correct amount of formula into the bottle. Shake the bottle to mix the formula in, and you’re good to go. If you’re using breastmilk, you’ll pour the correct amount of breastmilk into a bottle, and you’re ready to feed your baby.
Another great question is, “How much should my baby eat?” One of the best tips for new dads is to not be afraid to look something up or ask. This feeding chart will help you better understand how much your baby should eat based on their age.
Pick Up Where She Leaves Off
Although it’s good to have expectations for each person, it may not be a good idea to let her know she forgot to run to the grocery and you have no food. Instead, make a grocery list, or ask her what you should grab at the grocery.
The first few weeks, and sometimes even months of having a new baby are often a HUGE adjustment for everyone in your house. Give each other grace in this transition period. If you see an area where you can be helpful, don’t ask, just do.
PS- She is currently questioning EVERY SINGLE THING SHE DOES. Being a mom is a new experience for her too. She will be questioning if the baby is eating enough, trying to figure out why the baby is crying, making sure the baby’s temperature is right, monitoring the baby for jaundice, and so many other things. Please help her out in any way you can!
What to do WHEN Your Baby Cries
This isn’t an “IF” your baby cries, but a “WHEN” your baby cries. Babies cry and that is COMPLETELY normal. Don’t panic when your baby cries. Pick them up first and check their diaper. If their diaper is dirty they probably want a diaper change. If it’s clean, check to see how long it’s been since they last ate because they may be hungry. If they don’t need to eat, pat or rub their back because they may be having gas issues. You’ll continue trying different things until your baby settles down.
If you notice that your baby is crying A LOT and nothing seems to help, it may be helpful to talk with your pediatrician. Some babies suffer from something called infant colic.
Talk to Your Baby Often
It’s recommended that dads talk to their baby while in the uterus. This will help them recognize your voice once they enter the world and you’ll be a calming place for them. Another thing you can do is pick a song that you will sing to your baby often. This will become a special bonding point for both of you.
Another way dads can spend quality time with their new babies is to read to them often. Early literacy is a great building block as your baby gets older and begins to build fluency.
Tummy Time and Baby Play Time
Once you get approval for tummy time from your baby’s pediatrician, you can spend some one-on-one time with your baby during play and tummy time. A baby play mat is a great place for tummy time because it’s a clean, soft surface, and it offers visual stimulation for new babies. As your baby grows and becomes more interactive, this will become a great play spot for them.
Be Open to Advice
You’ll quickly find that everyone has some baby advice to share with you. Some will be helpful and some will just be annoying. Be open to listening to people who have had kids and parent their kids in a way you approve of.
Co-parenting one of the key things you can do for your marriage and it will also help you create a healthy environment for your baby.
Co-parenting means that you’re taking equal responsibility in caring for your baby. It may not be one for one, but it means you’re both putting in equal effort and asking where to help and how to help.
Another responsibility you have as a father, and a co-parent is to know the signs of postpartum depression. Postpartum depression isn’t something people want to talk about because it’s uncomfortable, but the reality is that a lot of women do have varying levels of postpartum depression. If you aren’t sure, here are some of the main symptoms of postpartum depression.
Wait for Sex
You may be ready to jump back into bed now that your baby is here, but she may not be ready. It’s recommended that you wait to have sex until she’s cleared at her 6-week postpartum check. And, keep in mind that she can get pregnant as soon as her cycle returns, so take the necessary precautions.
Even if your wife gets the all-clear at her postpartum visit, she may not be ready to jump back into sex. Follow her lead on this. If you aren’t sure why then you should ask her. Maybe she’s feeling overwhelmed. She may be concerned based upon the tearing she had during childbirth. Have the conversation before jumping to conclusions.
Becoming a dad is an amazing gift, but it also comes with a LOT of responsibility. As you settle into this new role of dad, never be too proud to ask a question or ask for help. You will learn so much as you do things more often. Best of luck to you!
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