First Time Fatherhood Tips

Fatherhood Tips

So your partner is having a baby—congratulations! While you are maybe not doing the bulk of the work in terms of growing the baby and birthing it, not to worry. There is plenty for you to do to help prepare for baby and to take care of your partner and the baby once they’ve arrived. Read on for some ideas about becoming a great dad.

Before Baby

There are things that must be handled before baby arrives and many of them are things that you can help with or do yourself. Here are just a few examples, but it can’t hurt to be ready and willing to help with anything your pregnant partner asks:

  • Researching baby gear: maybe this is something that you and your pregnant partner want to do together, but if she’s not into it or is even overwhelmed by all the options for baby gear, this could be your time to shine. There are plenty of great websites that do reviews of everything from strollers to diapers, so get your internet search engines and your spreadsheets ready.
  • Installing the car seat: if you have a car that you’re going to transport baby in, then you are going to need a car seat. Plus, most birth places—be they hospitals or birth centers—won’t let you take the baby home unless they see baby buckled up. You can get ready early—say around 35 weeks of pregnancy—by installing your car seat and having it checked at a fire station in your area or by a certified passenger safety technician (find one here).
  • Packing your own hospital bag. Don’t make your partner worry about whether you have everything you need for the birth—take care of it yourself! A few ideas: have a change of clothes for you, a sweatshirt in case things get chilly, your contact solution/glasses, and any phone chargers you might need.
  • Making a labor playlist. Check in with your partner about what they are thinking about the kind of music they might want to hear during labor—or better yet, make a few mixes that could suit a variety of moods.
  • Taking a childbirth education class or a boot camp particularly for new dads in order to prepare to support your partner during birth and after. Your partner might have a childbirth education class in mind for the two of you to take together, but there are also classes specifically designed for partners. Check out Boot Camp for New Dads, which is offered at hospitals and birth centers throughout the world.

Once Baby Arrives

After baby is born, there will be even more that needs doing, and—depending upon the type of birth that your partner is recovering from—much of it may fall to you. Below are a few that will likely come up, but watch for other places that you can step in to both care for your partner and your newest family member:

  • Cherish diaper-changing time. If your partner is breastfeeding, diaper changing is one of the primary times that you can connect with your baby, while also performing an essential duty. If your partner is in charge of input, it only makes sense for you to be in charge of output.
  • Support your partner in feeding your baby. You might bring snacks and drinks to keep your partner hydrated and nourished. You can also offer affirmation and encourage her to seek professional help from a lactation consultant if she is breastfeeding and it is challenging.
  • Bottle feed pumped milk or formula—especially during night feedings or if your baby is not breastfeeding.
  • Make it your business to get to know your baby and how to care for them. Be interested in how diapering, dressing, bathing, and feeding work, so that you can be an equal partner in raising your child. Make sure that your partner knows you’re comfortable caring for your baby so that she can take breaks as needed.
  • Bond with your baby. Hold your baby skin-to-skin. Make eye contact. Talk and sing to your baby—they likely already know your voice from inside the womb. This blog post has other great ideas about how you and baby can bond.
Abby Olena
Dr. Abby Olena has a PhD in Biological Sciences from Vanderbilt University. She lives with her husband and daughter in North Carolina, where she writes about science and parenting, produces a conversational podcast, and teaches prenatal yoga.

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