New Dad’s No Sweat Guide
The incredibly hard work of delivering a baby is now over. But it’s only the beginning. While new mothers acclimatise to her new role as a mom, new dads need to step up as well. So, gentlemen, how do you go about being a first-time father? This one’s for the dads, the new dads.
Congratulations on your new daddy status! The arrival of a new baby can be nerve-wracking and intimidating, but as many fathers can tell you, being a dad is the most rewarding, challenging and important job you will ever have. Your life changes the moment your pride and joy coos in your arms.
The interesting thing is, almost all new dads discover parenting talents they never knew they had in the first few days of fatherhood; so don’t panic at the thought of not knowing how to really care for a little one. Newborn care takes practice for both men and women, and maintaining a positive attitude and being willing to make mistakes are crucial to successful parenting.
First of all, give yourself time to ease into fatherhood. Do not rush yourself. You can start by getting involved in the daily care of your baby – feeding, dressing, playing and nappy changing. This is the best way to build your skills and confidence. These daily activities also create plenty of wonderful one-on-one time with your baby; they are also the building blocks towards creating a positive relationship with your child. Here’s a new-dad 101 guide to survive the first few months of fatherhood.
Sleep Like a Baby
First and foremost, accept that babies have their own sleep schedule. He will sleep when he’s tired, and wake up when hungry – usually every three to four hours. So don’t expect your baby to snooze through the night. Newborns sleep in short bouts – typically ranging from 30 minutes to 4 hours – at seemingly random times throughout the day and night. To make things worse, newborns awaken easily. Their frequent night time wake-up calls can be especially disruptive, so it’s a good idea to work out a schedule with your partner that allows both of you to rest and care for the baby.
Cry Me a River
Babies cry to communicate, so pay attention and try to find out why. Their cries shouldn’t be ignored as they are telling you if they are hungry, uncomfortable or ill. There may be instances when everything seems fine, but your baby won’t stop bawling. Try picking him up and walk around the room. If it’s a nice day, take him outside and get some fresh air. Also, you can offer comfort by singing or talking softly while stroking your baby’s head. Chances are, all your little one wants is some tender loving attention. Some parents find that newborns are calmed by gentle rocking.
Your baby cries non-stop, and you worry that there may be something wrong. Your wife is away on a doctor’s appointment and you are practically helpless not knowing what to do. You feel his head, and wonder if the temperature is just right, or if your baby is hurting somewhere else? It’s easy to panic at this time, but don’t. As a rule, babies who come home healthy stay healthy. But if you ever have any questions or concerns, do pick up the phone and call your baby’s doctor. Keep a thermometer handy; if your infant has a fever over 100 degrees, call the doctor immediately. If you really feel something is not right, bring your baby to the clinic. Whatever it is, stay calm.
It’s easy to know when your baby is hungry – they rarely go hungry in silence. If they start fussying or crying, that’s your alarm bell. Some babies need to eat every one to two hours. Listen for that alarm bell to go off every three to four hours or so. If your spouse is breastfeeding, support her by being patient and helping her to relax and be comfortable while she breastfeeds. If you’re giving your baby formula, take turns feeding him so you can both enjoy the experience.
Are you putting off diaper duty because you think it’s the most tedious (and filthiest) job in the world? You may be surprised to learn that fathers who help diaper their baby have stronger, better, and more long-lasting marriages. So there’s indeed a silver lining to the poop and pee you are about to get acquainted to several times a day. Get mommy to teach you the basics of diapering, or if you are like most men these days, just find a video on Youtube to teach you how. You’d be amazed just how simple the whole process is. One word of advice to new dads is to get in the habit of using the safety straps every time you put your baby on the changing table. Better yet, consider changing him or her on a blanket on the floor for extra precaution, if you still haven’t got the hang of it. Also, keep plenty of wipes and spare clothes (for you and the baby) handy.
Pick Me Up
One of the things new dads worry about is accidentally dropping or mishandling their infants. Take a deep breath, as research shows that even severely sleep-deprived moms and dads rarely drop their children. When handling your new baby, however, support weak neck muscles during the first four weeks. A newborn baby’s head is by far the heaviest part of his or her body, and a baby’s head and neck needs careful support. Usually you will hold the head gently with one hand. Use your right arm to scoop up the baby’s bottom. Another way is to bring your baby to your chest and rest her head there.
Bonding with your baby is as easy as giving your child your full attention. Have some one-on-one time with her and really tune in to her. This time is about the two of you and it can happen when you’re doing everyday things like changing or dressing your baby – it doesn’t need to be specially planned. What’s important is to play, talk, and just offer the love and tender loving care that he needs. Talk to your baby as often as you can, and try carrying and holding him as often as you can.
There you have it, the bare basics of caring for a baby. Once you are familiar with these steps, fatherhood stops becomes so scary. Stop worrying so much, and get support from other dads to make things less daunting. Most of all, enjoy the entire process, as raising a child is truly one of life’s best moments. Kudos to you for taking parenthood on with courage!