This one’s for the dads. If you’re reading this then chances are there’s a baby on the way. Congratulations! This is the start of a whole new crazy chapter in your life. And we have the advice for new parents to help you make the most of every moment.
There’s no doubt that becoming a parent for the first time is daunting. You are undertaking a massive learning curve here so don’t blame yourself if you’re a little anxious about what’s to come.
Being a new dad is a delicate balancing act. This is a time when moms take center stage. But as a dad, your role is equally crucial. We just don’t tend to talk about it as much. And that’s exactly why we’re here today.
In this article we’re going to be putting the spotlight on new fathers and offering 11 amazing nuggets of advice to help all new fathers out before those bundles of joy finally arrive.
1. Get informed but be prepared to make mistakes
Here’s the deal. As a new dad, you should do your research. But don’t make the mistake of trying to learn everything ever known about parenting. This will, quite frankly, drive your bananas. Do your reading and get informed, but be prepared for the inevitable mistakes to follow.
Parenting is a messy, wonderful thing. You’ll need to learn to take the ups with the downs, and laugh through all your inevitable dad fails. And, yes, I’m sorry but they are inevitable. It doesn’t matter whether this is your first or your tenth baby, no parent is perfect. And, after all, every slip up makes a killer dinner party anecdote to laugh about for years to come.
2. Be hands on and learn your kid’s cues
This next one’s a biggie. Starting with the birth. Whether your partner has opted to give birth in the hospital or at home, she is going to need plenty of support. So, get hands on right from the get go. Discuss with your partner – ahead of time- how you are going to support them through the birth.
Once the baby has arrived, embrace daily care. It may be daunting at first but try to dress, bathe, nappy change, and play with your newborn as often as possible. This way you’ll get to know your child’s unique cues pretty quickly. And expect to get cried at… a lot.
3. Embrace the wonderful world of poop and vomit
I’ll keep this one short. We all know the drill. Babies poop and babies vomit. And you’re just going to have to get used to it. In your hair, on your clothes, you name it – nothing’s precious in the world of fatherhood. And don’t be surprised if it all comes out in a spectacular color spectrum.
4. Don’t be shy. Connect with your baby as often as you can.
Even though your newborn doesn’t understand what you’re saying, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be chatting away to them at every opportunity. Babies learn from every experience. At this stage they are soaking up every word. A great way to connect is to tell stories or simply narrate what you are doing out loud. For example, ‘it’s time to eat’ or ‘let’s change your diaper’.
It really is that simple and will help you bond as father and child. And connection isn’t just verbal. It’s physical and visual too. Holding your child to your chest (otherwise known as skin-to-skin) is one of the most effective bonding rituals, especially in the first few weeks and months after birth.
And why not go all out with the funny faces – you’ll be teaching your kid to interpret facial expressions and emotions.
5. Be prepared to help your partner after the birth
Your partner has just done a huge thing. Birth is like a marathon. It’s physically and emotionally draining. After the birth of your child, your partner is going to need a lot of extra support. Physical, practical, and emotional. Be patient – this is an emotional time- and offer plenty of encouragement, cups of tea, and…well… anything she needs!
6. There’s nothing wrong with accepting help
You don’t have to do it alone.
You don’t have to do it alone.
Having a strong support system around you can be like a life raft when you become a parent – especially if it’s your first time around the fatherhood block.
Don’t be shy to accept or reach out for help from friends and family.
After all, they say it takes a village to raise a child.
And most of the time, you’ll find that people are more than happy to help out in whatever way they can. Even something as simple as receiving a home cooked meal will make a big difference.
7. Take good care of your relationship
A top piece of advice for new parents? Prioritize your relationship. It might seem impossible – especially in the first days and weeks after the birth – but making time for each other is so important. After all, you’re a team in this. Aligning your parenting goals is super important. Try to grow as parents together and support each other through every milestone. Check in with each other every day and make sure the burden is always shared.
8. Look after yourself (and get some sleep)
If there was ever a piece of universal wisdom, then this is it. Having a baby means losing sleep. But don’t let it get out of hand. After all you need to be healthy (and awake) in order to be your best parenting self. So, look after yourself as best you can with a healthy diet and exercise regime. And try to get in those zees wherever and whenever you can.
9. Try to spread visits out (especially in those first few weeks)
New babies mean visitors. Lots of people are going to want to come by and say hello to the baby. But know your limits. You do not have to accept visitors every hour of every day. In fact, we’d recommend you don’t. Being a new parent is overwhelming enough as it is. It’s okay to spread your visitors out to give yourself some time together as a family.
10. Expect new emotions
Embrace the barrage of emotions that are coming your way. Having a baby isn’t like buying a new car or finalizing a house purchase. It’s a whole different ball game. And each milestone in your new life as a family will bring a whole new set of emotions with it. There’s no one-size-fits-all new dad emotion. Expect anything and everything from tears to joy.
11. And remember. You’re not a babysitter!
Last but not least you’re not the babysitter. Embed this deep down into your frontal cortex. All too often dads slip up by calling themselves the babysitter. But you’re not the babysitter Paul – you’re the father of this miniature human being. Even if you’re going out to work every day, your responsibilities as dad don’t go away. The key is finding the right balance.
But the best new parent advice we can give is to embrace the journey. If you’ve got a baby on the way, congratulations! This is going to be a life changing experience. Embrace the unknown and lean into parenting. By keeping these 11 top-tips in mind you’ll be well prepared for what’s ahead. Good luck and enjoy!