So. You’ve just become a dad for the first time.
First off, congratulations! Your journey into fatherhood has begun. And what a journey it’s set to be. There will be ups and there will be downs. And that’s completely normal.
Seeking out some advice for new parents? Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together this article full of advice from new dads for new dads. Straight from the horse’s mouth as they say.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into 12 essential tips for new dads.
1. You might not bond right away…and that’s completely normal
Media representations of parenthood are seriously rose-tinted. And don’t forget that. We’re inundated with movies and TV shows that show fathers bonding instantaneously with their newborn child. And whilst that might happen for you, do not be concerned if it doesn’t. That too is completely normal. I repeat: that too is completely normal. Bonding takes time.
There’s no need to beat yourself up if you don’t feel that instant all-consuming feeling. And don’t be concerned if your partner struggles at first too. Every individual (fathers and mothers alike) will bond at their own unique pace. After all, sometimes it’s hard to feel unconditional love when you’re mega stressed about all the practicalities that come with actually raising a brand new, real, human child.
So, give yourself a break.
If you’re concerned about bonding, why not check out this great book on the subject. The Baby Bonding Book for Dads offers practical everyday tips to help fathers enjoy forging a father-child bond.
2. Silence is not always golden
One thing that we all hear time and time again is that getting a baby to sleep can be hard. So, here’s a thought for you. Did you know that silence is not always golden when it comes to baby getting those Zs? In fact, many parents say their child sleeps better with a bit of background noise.
Since newborns sleep at intervals throughout the day it’s a good idea to get them used to household noises from the get go. And if you’re super lucky you might just train up the world’s deepest sleeper. Some parents report that even a vacuum cleaner won’t wake up their child.
But hold up for a second. While this all sounds fantastic, it can easily go the other way. Sometimes children become so accustomed to noise that they actually need it to fall asleep. The key is finding a balance with a sleep routine that works for the whole family.
3. Expected to feel frustrated
Babies don’t know better. Babies are the only human beings who can (and should) get away with being hands-down annoying from time to time. And you can’t blame them. Because they’re babies. And babies don’t know better.
So, it’s time to channel your inner patience. Whenever your baby is being a bit, for lack of a better word, irritating, try not to become overwhelmed. Instead, put them down somewhere safe (a crib is usually best). Walk away, meditate, go into the garden and scream… whatever it takes. Just don’t take it out on the baby (or your partner).
4. Everyone is learning
You will make a lot of mistakes. And that’s okay. We all do. Every new parent wants to do the best job they can, but we (your baby included) are all human. They will get bumps, bruises, colds, rashes, you name it. If you’re lucky they might even try to eat a crayon.
The dumb things your kid does do not make you a bad parent.
5. Find your niche
When your newborn arrives, it can be really helpful (both for you and your partner) to forge a clear role for you as dad. Find something that you and only you do to help out. That could be bath time or morning bottle feeds, for example. Try and find a routine based on your individual homelife. This will help you lean into fatherhood, and help your exhausted partner recover from the stress of birth.
6. You can never have too many baby wipes
This one speaks for itself. Babies poop. A lot. And they like to vomit quite a bit too. You’re going to need baby wipes aplenty and at the ready at all times. If you think a standard sized pack from the supermarket is going to last you the week then you’re wildly mistaken my friend.
We recommend bulk buying baby wipes by the case. Got friends coming round asking what they can bring? Think baby wipes. Writing your weekly shopping list? Think baby wipes. Online shopping at midnight?… you get the idea.
7. Remember, this is just a phase
Those first days, weeks, and months after your child’s birth are amazing. But they’re also extremely taxing. New dads listen up. If you’re secretly wondering what they heck you’ve gotten yourself in for, don’t worry. The constant crying, pooping and lack of sleep is just a phase. And it does get better.
You and your partner are going to feel drained. Your baby needs attention and care 24/7. Looking after a child is a full-time job. Catch some moments of respite where you can.
Communicate with your partner as much as you can. And if you find yourself feeling frazzled, remember the baby phase is just that. A phase.
8. Be who you want your kid to become
Being a father is being a role model. So be who you want your kid to become. Even when they’re a teeny tiny baby and especially as they start to get older. If you want your kid to clean their room, make sure you’re keeping your home clean as well.
If you want them to be polite, make sure you model that. If you don’t want your kids addicted to screens, you better not be scrolling all damn day. You get the idea. “Do as I say not as I do” is NOT what we’re aiming for here. Instead aim for a “do as I do” approach. Kids learn best by example.
9. Prioritize your partner
This one’s a biggie. For both of you. The early days are all consuming. Your partner used to be number one in your life and now you’ve got so much more to think about. It’s easy to get lost in your new roles as father and mother.
But caring for a child doesn’t have to mean neglecting your relationship. With some smart communication, the two can go hand in hand. Remember, you’re a team in this.
Take some of the mental load off of your partner, make sure that you’re in-the-know about baby’s medical appointments, do your share of the chores and get to know the local babysitters. By making sure that the little things are in order, you’ll be making life easier on everyone- yourself, mum, and baby included.
10. Spend as much time as you can with your kid
They grow up fast. In the words of one father, “I went to grab some cigarettes one night. I came back to find that my 10-month-old son was now 29 years old.” The days are long but the years are short so spend as much time with your kids as possible.
It doesn’t have to be 24/7 fun and games. ‘Quality time’ doesn’t always have to mean grand adventures. Even doing simple chores around the house is time well spent. The essential ingredient is that you’re doing whatever you’re doing together. Whether it be washing the dishes, walking the dog, watching TV, or reading a book.
11. Every moment is a teachable moment
Your kid is a blank slate. They start learning from the moment they enter the world. Even before your child can talk, they can learn. So, treat every moment as a teachable moment. Helping your child learn about the world is a wonderful way to bond and build curiosity. Kids are sponges. They soak everything in. Every new word, every new experience, nothing is ever lost.
12. Prepare to get hurt where the sun don’t shine
And last, but not least, prepare to get hit where the sun don’t shine. It’s going to happen. In fact, having kids has an almost 100% efficacy rate when it comes to getting hit you-know-where. Get ready to have stuff dropped on it, stuff slammed into it, and a general lack of respect for the family jewels.
Fatherhood has liftoff!
So, there we have it. 12 awesome tips straight from the source. Fatherhood is exciting, rewarding, and …yes… a little bit scary at first. But trust me, it is for everyone. Especially the first time around. For more tips and advice, why not check out our article “11 Best Books for New Dads”. You’ll be able to discover tons of fantastic books all with dads in mind.
Or check out our own dad book that has all the tips and tricks you need for being a new dad.