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Welcoming a new little one to the family is an exciting time for everyone involved. However, it’s no surprise that mothers and fathers may handle the experience differently and have different reactions to life with a baby. It’s okay to be terrified. You can be terrified and in love at the same time, as many first-time parents will attest!
If this is your first Father’s Day or you’re a soon-to-be dad, we’ve put together a few tips to help you survive those early days.
We know that new little bundle is tiny, but don’t worry - you’re unlikely to break or drop the baby.
Take a deep breath dad, you’ve got this. It’s pretty rare for any first time parent to know exactly what to do, and it’s okay not to have all the answers. All your baby needs is to be loved, you’ll figure out the rest. The hospital or birthing center is a great resource when your little one arrives. Ask questions and don’t be afraid to ask someone to show you how to do something that will help you take care of mom or baby.
If you’re overly anxious consider take a parenting class in advance or talk to a trusted friend of family member that has children. Learning how to properly diaper, bathe, feed and comfort your newborn before he or she arrives will be a big confidence booster for both you and your partner once the big day arrives.
Don’t forget you and your partner are a team. If you cannot be involved during feedings, consider handling the diapers. Take on new household duties where possible and communicate frequently about what each of you need and expect in your new roles as parents. Tell your partner that she’s doing a great job. She’ll need to hear this more than you’ll ever know.
If you can, take time away from work in the early days. Be present and show appreciation. An unexpected note or cup of coffee can be just the gesture your partner needs after a rough night with a newborn. And perhaps most importantly – make occasional plans to be together, away from your baby.
If your baby is bottle fed, it can be easy to take shifts with the night feedings and give mom a chance to sleep too. If your baby is exclusively nursing, giving mom a helping hand in the wee hours with diapers or rocking sends the signal that she’s not alone and gives you an opportunity to bond with your baby.
If you have issues with getting your baby to sleep, try The Ferber Method
We promise – uninterrupted sleep will return!
Hearing that “dada” for the first time may just melt your heart, you get there by spending time with your baby. In addition to giving your partner a much-needed break, daily time with just “dada” will solidify you and your child’s relationship in its earliest of days.
During this time you’ll learn how to sooth your baby’s crying and be someone he can come to for comfort. Even the littlest of babies can play with dad or listen to dad read, play guitar, or sing songs.
When you aren't around your baby, consider a Wifi-Baby Monitor - Learn More
A baby changes everything, but it doesn’t have to change your lifelong friendships. Take your child along when appropriate, but also make time for your friends without the kids in tow. Allow your partner time to do the same.
If you’re one of the first amongst your friends to have children, don’t be afraid to seek out Dad groups or new friendships. First-time fathers need just as much support as moms.
Becoming a parent for the first time turns your world upside down. It’s likely that many friends and family members will offer assistance. Accept the babysitting, the casseroles, the trip to the grocery store.
When you need help (and you will!), speak up - including to your partner. Communication is key during these early weeks when you both are likely to feel overwhelmed or lack confidence. If needed, invest in a counselor to help you stay focused.
Just like adults, babies come in many different varieties, with widely different temperaments. You may have a fantastic sleeper, your little one may have colic and cry several hours a day. As the days grow longer your patience may thin with both your partner and child. Take a break when stress levels rise, and try to look for the same signs from your partner.
If you’re able, create a financial plan for parenthood before your child arrives. Consider what elements of your finances will be most affected by baby and plan for that. Discuss paternity leave options with your employer, consider educational funds for your children, and invest in life insurance for both you and your partner.
Consider what childcare options will be available to your family and begin thinking about how your schedule will support your families needs.
The early days of fatherhood can be the most trying and also the most treasured of times. Try to remember to take a deep breath and lots of videos! Your child will grow faster than you ever expect, and while you may never miss the 2 AM wakeup call you may come to miss rocking or feeding your infant.
Becoming a parent for the first time is life changing in wonderful, but sometimes unexpected, ways. You’ll never have all the answers but if you begin from a place of preparation and love, you’ll easily figure out the rest.
By establishing early focus on supporting your partner and bonding with your new baby, you’re laying the foundation for successful parenthood. When you become unsure of yourself, which you will, take a deep breath and talk with your partner or another experienced parent. There’s no greater bond than that between a parent and child and it begins in these earliest of days.