Becoming a Father is huge. It is a wonderful event in your life where your world as you know it will completely change, for the good!
It can all be quite overwhelming and many of you might be wondering where to start or what to do. Here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Be hands on
No one really knows what to do in the beginning (first time parents) but if you dive in hands first, you soon pick it up and your skills and confidence will increase. Get involved with nappies, bath time, dressing, playing etc.. If you start this habit when they are born, you are not only giving yourself time to bond with your baby but you are also building a positive relationship.
2. Connect with touch
Physical touch is really important for babies. It makes them feel safe and it builds a trusting connection between you and your child. Try and carry your baby as much as you can. If you need to soothe them, carry them against your heart. The rhythm of your heart is relaxing for the baby as it reminds them of their Mothers heart when they were in the womb.
It is important to talk to your baby as much as possible. Everything you say is a stepping stone to building a great relationship. Continually communicating will also help build your child’s learning and language. You can chat and have a one way conversation (sometimes you might get a gurgle in reply) and you can read and sing to your child too.
4. Help with breastfeeding
You may think that breastfeeding is your wife’s department and for most of the time it is but that doesn’t mean you can’t help her out. It is important that you support your partner while she masters the art of nursing. It can be tough and she will need you for moral support. Keep reassuring her by telling her she is doing a great job. You can also offer practical support such as giving her an extra pillow, a glass of water etc..
If you need to give the bottle to your baby, you can really step up and do this. Try and participate in the feeding as much as possible, as long as your wife is comfortable with it.
5. Accept help
Often people will say “Let me know if I can help in any way” when you have a new baby. It is OK for you to accept help and say “Yes please!” It could be a simple request but every bit of help really makes a huge difference when you have a baby.
6. Nurture your relationship
Often when a baby comes into the picture, the relationship between you and your wife gets pushed onto the back burner. Parents are often SO exhausted with looking after the baby 24×7 and not sleeping, that the last thing on their minds is to concentrate on the relationship. This however is vital if you want to live harmoniously with your partner. “Working on the relationship” doesn’t mean that you have to be physical but try your best to stay positive and support each other as much as you can. Communicate constantly and share your expectations and needs with one another. Nurture your wife and listen to what she says and how she is feeling. Her hormones are most likely running wild after the baby arrives so its important that you LISTEN to everything she says and help her with whatever she needs. You are both in this TOGETHER and it is important for you both to remember that.
7. Look after yourself
Again – You are in this together! This means that you also need energy to support your partner and look after your baby. For this you need to rest, eat healthily and make good lifestyle choices so you can be the best Dad possible.
8. One on One time
This can be planned or it can be spontaneous. It doesn’t matter when or where (your baby doesn’t care), it is just important that you spend some quality alone time with your baby. This could be when you are changing him/her or it could be a trip to the park. Having one on one time is a great chance for you both to connect and bond.
9. Understand your baby
The more time you spend with your baby, the more you will learn. Baby’s constantly give signals through their behaviour and body language. The more time you spend with them, the easier it will be to understand your baby and therefore react to their needs.
As mentioned, most first time parents don’t know exactly what to do in the beginning and the best way to learn is by getting involved and just doing it. You will learn new things every day. It is a great idea to share your experiences with other Dads/parents so you can bounce of each other and give each other tips and advice. Have a look online for information you need and keep up to date with relevant issues so you can practice what you have learnt.
We hope these tips help you in the initial days and weeks of becoming a Father. The most important thing however, is to try and enjoy the whole process. Take everything in and absorb the experience because this phase sadly doesn’t last long.