Your beautiful baby has been born and you’re all back at home starting your new life together.
Now there’s plenty for everyone to learn.
But dads will have lots to learn, too.
What actions can they take at home to help with the new arrival?
In the early weeks of life with a newborn, I often hear moms tell me how dads need to be given opportunities to feed baby with a bottle, because dads want to be a part of the process. But that’s often difficult when mom is breastfeeding,
Even so, there are things dads can do! Taking some time to care for baby—giving mom some much-needed time for rest—is a wonderful way to help out while also giving dad time to bond with baby. This can happen morning, day or evening, or whenever mom isn’t feeding the baby.
Here are my suggestions for some of the best ways dads can help out with a new baby:
Changing diapers doesn’t make most dads excited. But it’s just one of many tasks—and one of the most necessary parts of having a baby.
Babies can take in air when feeding. Burping helps to release that air. While breastfed babies don’t always burp, it’s still worth trying to burp them. Dad can bring baby to mom, help her get comfortable for breastfeeding, then burp baby between and after feedings. If mom’s milk flows quickly, make sure to try burping baby.
Babies need tummy time—and it just so happens that this presents a great opportunity for dad to spend precious moments with the new baby.
Tummy time is a supervised opportunity for baby to safely look around while tummy-down. It is baby’s chance to strengthen neck muscles and other areas that are unused during sleep time. This helps build strength so baby can eventually sit up, crawl and walk.
But tummy time needs to happen on a clean floor. And you don’t want to do it after a feeding because it would put too much pressure on your baby’s stomach. Start with a short duration and build up from there.
This can happen during tummy time or whenever the moment arises. It can include singing, reading and more. It’s a great time for dads to start reading books to baby—which provides many benefits.
Your baby isn’t out playing in the mud yet, so there’s no need for a daily bath. But bath time can be a rewarding time for dad and baby.
This will not only help baby relax and sleep, but also help dad bond—and it could decrease postpartum depression for dad. Check out a past story on this topic.
Did you know dad can be the most important person to encourage for breastfeeding? A study in Australia found that dads who are encouraging can make a big difference: “The role of practical and emotional support from fathers is an essential ingredient to successful breastfeeding, increasing the mother’s confidence and enabling her to maintain an adequate milk supply.”
Skin to skin
Skin-to-skin contact isn’t just for moms. It’s great for dads, too—and it’s especially beneficial to your new baby. It helps regulate your baby’s temperature and blood sugar levels, as well as stabilizing heart rate and respiratory rate.
Invest in family time
Those moments with your little one are precious, so use them wisely. Dads and moms should slow down and spend quality time with each other and baby. With all the work that comes with a new baby, and all that time spent indoors, it’s important to get outside and go for a walk.