Whether your baby’s daddy is present or not, there’s no denying that moms have to deal with the brunt of things. From growing your baby and giving birth there’s just no way around it. But as soon as your baby takes its first breath, you’ll need all the help you can get, and this is where your partner can shine!
Some dads may be okay stepping up right away, while most will be more hesitant, not quite sure how they can help, especially in those early days when you’re still recovering from your birth and trying to establish a breastfeeding routine. Bear in mind that just like you, your partner is brand new to parenting and is also experiencing all sorts of emotions and thoughts.
Of course, every family situation is different, and everyone has their strengths, but there’s a whole lot of things dads can do to help with the baby. Not only does it make moms’ life easier, it also helps to bond the whole family. And guess what? A new study published in the Frontiers of Psychology shows that the earlier, and the more often dads are involved with their babies, the better it is for his mental health too!
Here are some tried-and-tested tips on how to get your partner more involved during the newborn phase:
Right from the get go, your partner can step in to help change nappies. Any new mom will tell you just how useful just that one simple gesture can be.
If you’re breastfeeding, it’s a bit tricky to get him involved in feeding time. But he can hold the baby while you pump, and also help you figure out the right position to feed. He can also get involved in the burping phase – I know I could never get it right and my hubby turned out to be an ace at it!
If you are bottle feeding (whether it’s pumped milk or formula), dads can get involved with the feeding and it would be good to encourage him to do as many as he can. This will give you a break and also help him bond with the baby.
Now’s not the time to feel embarrassed or guilty to ask for help. Let your hubby do all the running around, from changing baby, bathing baby and soothing baby when he’s crying or needs to be rocked to sleep. (Some dads have become quite the pros at baby wearing these days!) He can also do the tidying up around the house, he can go to the shops for you, and help you in and out the bath and bed if needs be (especially after a C-section).
Your baby isn’t the only one that needs some TLC, you do too. Let your partner make and bring you meals and cups of tea to help you recover and build up your strength. If cooking isn’t his thing, at least get him involved in the grocery shopping, getting prepared meals from the shop, or ordering takeaways if need be!
There’s probably no area where you need his support more than getting your baby to sleep. It doesn’t matter how you go about this – everyone has their one way of figuring this out – having him right there with you is going to be a blessing. He can help by putting baby to sleep or taking turns with you to check on the baby.
When your baby grows, Dad can continue to be involved in the bedtime and bath time routine. Also get him involved in cuddling up and chatting and reading to your baby. Research shows that babies are familiar with the sound of their dad’s voice from when they are still in the womb, so encourage him to bond with your baby from the get go in this way.
Let him find his own groove
There’s so many things your partner can do to help, but you have to know he’s probably going do it a whole lot differently to you. And that’s okay. Give him some space to discover his own special routines and rituals with the baby. It doesn’t matter if it’s not perfect because at the end of the day, it’ll still be helpful and give you some time to catch your breath. What’s more, you’re encouraging them to bond, which in the bigger scheme of things will benefit you all as a family in the long run.
What moms say
We asked you on Facebook, how you got your partner involved with your baby. Here’s what you said:
“Truthfully what I did was placed the baby on his chest and go do some chores and take a long bath after that he had no choice but to be involved.” – Gugulethu Khanyile
“I must say my husband has been hands on since day 1. I never had to wake up at night and every weekend he spends the whole saturday and sunday with our son. He is an amazing husband and way better daddy. Our son is now almost 2.” – Jeanette Else
“Left the baby with him and went away for 3 hours and sat in the library and read a book by myself. He had to change the baby’s nappy and feed the baby and was going crazy because I left my cellphone at home. Then he started saying let me help you.” – Suraya Jeewa
“He was the only one that could get those nasty winds out, so he was on burping duty!” – Marietjie du Plessis
Content editor and writer on Living & Loving, Sonya has over 25 years experience in the media industry. She edited Living & Loving magazine for six-and-a-half years and is the former editor of Longevity magazine. She’s won numerous media industry awards and is passionate about the health and wellbeing of moms and children.
Outside of work, she enjoys trying out recipes, reading crime mysteries and thrillers, practicing yoga, and exploring new destinations.
Learn more about Sonya Naudé.