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Congratulations Daddy-O! Becoming a father is undoubtedly one of the biggest moments in your life. As with many new things, the unknown can be scary.
Life with a newborn is definitely challenging, though not impossible. You will be battling changes to your routines, sleep deprivation, infant feeding, how to be a support for your wife throughout this postpartum stage, and so much more!
Needless to say, both you and your partner may be feeling quite overwhelmed right about now.
Your main goals as a new father should be 1) taking care of your new baby, and 2) building a relationship with them. And as a bonus, trying to understand and be supportive of mom during this wild postpartum stage!
As if that isn’t enough to ask of you, I’m here to offer my FIVE best newborn tips for dad so that you’re prepared when your baby makes their entrance.
BEST Newborn Tips for Dads
Start practicing skin to skin contact after birth!
You may be familiar with the importance of skin to skin between a mother and baby, especially immediately after birth, but also on-going through infancy.
This is an incredible bonding technique that fathers should embrace as well. And yes, you can start practicing skin to skin contact after birth too!
Babies are comforted by the warmth of your skin on theirs, and soothed by the steady beating of your heart. Your newborn has spent their whole existence up until now being lulled by the sounds of your wife’s heart while in utero.
The most basic building block to developing a bond with your new baby is making them feel safe and comfortable. There is no better way to achieve this than by having a snuggle-sesh!
In fact, after my son was born, he was unfortunately taken straight to the NICU due to some complications. Thankfully, my amazing husband was there to go with our son and be by his side the entire time.
Since I wasn’t able to see him due to my own complications, by the time I got up to my recovery room, my husband met me up in my room showing me a video our little newborn in the NICU holding onto his finger! It may not have been true skin to skin contact, but it was still the sweetest thing ever.
Our little boy needed his dada at that moment and I am thankful every day he was there by his side.
Leading off the first tip, baby-wearing is an amazing thing new fathers can do!
You may have heard the phrase, ‘She’s carried them the last nine months, now it’s your turn” a couple of times in your life, but it’s true!
Many babies are very happy to be worn, comfortable with their closeness to you and lulled by the walking movements.
Again, just like they were in utero. This is also another great way to promote bonding. This way, both you and mama can be hands-free to get some tidying or shopping done, and mama’s back can have a break.
Since my husband is over 6′ tall and is a pretty tall lean guy, it took us a while to find THE BEST baby carrier for him to use. Trial and error with many of the top brands, but we finally came across the Lille Baby Carrier and thankfully it works perfectly for the both of us!
He loves that the straps of the baby carrier are fully adjustable along with having extra back support padding while I love that the carrier is supportive yet lightweight and has extra back support padding too! It’s a win-win!
Diaper Changes Aren’t Fun
I can tell you with confidence that no one ENJOYS changing a stinky diaper. Oftentimes, I’ve heard that some fathers do not change diapers because “it’s gross”.
Well, sir, you are correct. It is gross. And I can assure you that mama is not counting down the seconds to when she will have to do it again because it’s so much fun. It’s not fun.
So let’s strike a deal, ok? Please save the disappointment, and when your partner asks you to change a diaper every once in a while, just do it without complaint.
This is especially true if you’ve had to return to work, and your partner is home with your baby all day!
Think about it this way, a newborn goes through approximately 10-12 diapers a day! Yikes, that’s a lot! Around ⅓ of those will be bowel movements. That is a lot of poopy diapers that occur while you aren’t even home to be asked.
HOWEVER, if you are very involved in the diaper changing and taking an active role in ALL of baby’s newborn care needs, kudos to you papa bear!
We know and understand it’s not easy. In fact, I think it kind of just comes as second nature for most moms! Whereas most dads end up learning this as they progress through fatherhood.
Regardless, try to help out as much as you can. Plus, even if it’s changing a poopy diaper, it’s still time for YOU to spend out of your day with your sweet little baby!
Master the Baby Burrito Swaddle Technique
You may have noticed that hospital nurses wrapped your newborn baby up into a super tight baby burrito aka swaddling the baby.
Babies LOVE being swaddled. It not only keeps them warm and snug but prevents them from flailing around and scratching their face or startling themselves.
PRO swaddle tip from my husband, “MAKE SURE YOU USE A GOOD QUALITY SWADDLE BLANKET! The ones at the hospital aren’t the best for staying in place once baby starts to move”.
Up until around the 3-6 month mark, you’ll probably notice your baby has an intense startle reflex. This is also known as the ‘moro reflex‘. With the help of a nicely wrapped swaddle, your baby can rest comfortably all thanks to YOU wrapping them up to feel cozy!
Babies also seem to sleep better while tucked in cozy in our arms. But, that’s not realistic all the time.
By swaddling your newborn, they still feel close and warm so they don’t wake up the second you put them down.
Swaddling is a skill that would be super impressive for you to master. I won’t even lie…my husband became the pro at swaddling BEFORE ME! He was able to spend more time down in the NICU so he was able to change diapers, practice swaddling, bottle feed and more!
By the time I was able to go down there, I watched him in action and actually felt a little intimidated! Needless to say, I made him show my his ways and quickly became better than him HAH, but you get the point 🙂
Feeding is a Family Affair
There is a stigma that dads can only help with feedings if your baby is formula-fed. Whoever started that stigma, SUCKS!
Dads, you can totally take on the nighttime feedings when using a bottle — allowing mom some time to sleep whether or not your baby is being breastfed!
I feel like one of the positives we took out of having a NICU baby paired with nursing struggles, is that we were forced into giving our son breastmilk from a bottle for some time.
This allowed my husband to take over plenty of feedings while I got some much-needed rest, ate my breakfast in peace or took some time to pump more milk.
Also, keep in mind breastfeeding mothers need ample healthy snacks and water on hand. While she’s tending to your baby, and doing the diaper change, it would be helpful for you to quietly get up to grab her a snack and drink (if needed).
Lastly, all babies need to burp after a feeding regardless of the feeding method your family has chosen.
Once mom is done nursing or once you’re done offering a bottle, you could offer to burp the baby and lay them back down, allowing mom to get a few extra minutes to relax. This is a wonderful help for an exhausted mother.
Hopefully, this post helped ease some of your concerns becoming a father!
Trust me, it will be the BEST moment of your life. Soak up every precious moment since they fly by way too fast!