Becoming a dad for the first time can be daunting!
As far as life events go, there’s nothing much bigger, more stressful, or more rewarding than becoming a father for the first time.
One of the most important stages you will have as a new parent is to build a strong relationship with your child from a very early age. In this article, we will share our top 10 tips for making a great start into fatherhood.
Use your time away from work wisely. Your paternity leave provides a rare opportunity for you to be involved in your child’s daily routine without external distractions. These activities include bathing your child, getting them dressed, playing with them, and changing a never-ending amount of nappies!
These daily activities that form part of your new everyday routine are essential to help you gain confidence and improve skills you may never have used before. They are also essential relationship building blocks between you and your child.
You may not know this yet, but babies give off cues or signals to tell you what they need through their body language and behaviour.
An essential step in your development is to understand what these cues mean, and provide your baby with what they need, including hugs, food, changing, or comfort. In time, you will naturally know what it is your child needs.
Studies have shown that physical touch helps your baby feel safe, and it is a great way for your baby to feel security and trust between you both. Bonding with your new-born also stimulates their brain development. A great way to do this is to hold your baby close to your chest so they can hear heartbeat and carry them often.
This can seem strange at first because you will need to get used to having one-way conversations and speaking out loud while nobody else is around but talking to your baby helps with their development and language learning.
You can start by using phrases like “I love you, yes I do”, "Don’t cry, everything’s going to be OK”, and “That feels better, doesn’t it?”. You can also tell stories and sing songs as they have the same effect.
Now, straight away, you might be thinking, how can I possibly help with breastfeeding?!
Well, there are a few things you can do to help in this department – first, while your partner is learning how to do it effectively, you can be there to support them through the process and give encouragement. You can also provide practical support, such as getting extra pillows or a glass of water. Finally, if your partner can’t breastfeed, you can reassure her that it’s OK and help with the switch to formula and bottle-feeding.
If this is your first child, you will likely be going from being a family of 2, to a family of 3, and while it’s important to make time for your spouse, you will also need to make time for your new-born. This will enable you to create important moments where your baby has your full attention, helping you both connect and bond.
Irrespective of whether you’re having your first or your fifth baby, you can always learn something new, and a great resource to do this is our blogposts and resources from Professional Parent. It’s also important to check the NHS website for anything health or medical related, and you may also consider taking part in parenting groups.
Yep, it can be difficult for us guys to ask for help. Now is not the time to try and figure it all out by yourself. If someone asks if there’s anything they can do for you, it’s OK to say ‘Yes!’ Speak with your partner and discuss when you’ll be willing to accept help from family, friends, and colleagues.
While a new addition to the family is a wonderful thing, it can put additional strain on relationships if not properly nurtured. This is especially true if things are already a little rocky (plus the addition of extra hormones flying around). Try to support each other and stay positive as you navigate parenthood together. Keep the communication going post-pregnancy and keep ‘checking in’ on your spouse periodically to let them know you’re there for them. Negotiate all responsibilities and share the load equally.
Being in a healthy state of mind and looking after your general well-being will ensure you can positively affect your family. Not doing so has the opposite effect and can be detrimental. If you’re well, you’ll be better able to look after your baby and support your partner. Keep an eye on your lifestyle choices and maybe reconsider how often you eat junk foods, drink alcohol, or laze around the house.
Remember, raising a child is not easy, but one day you will look back and see how far you’ve come and how well your child has turned out because of your effort. Unconditional love, spending time together, and personal attention all go a long way. These things do not come easily or without effort on everyone’s part, but if you put the effort in now, soon it will be habitual, making the whole process much easier.