Welcome to the club, first-time dads.
With a new baby on the way, you’re probably excited and nervous about the arrival of your son or daughter.
“Fear of the unknown is normal for new dads,” said Dr. David Holz, a Marshfield Clinic pediatrician and father.
This advice for new dads will ease your fears and answer some questions about fatherhood. We can’t guarantee you’ll win a “Father of the Year” award in your first year of parenthood but you’ll feel more comfortable in your important new role as a dad.
1. Ask questions, discuss fears
“Concerns about becoming a father are normal because it’s a lot of change and responsibility,” Holz said. “Discussing your concerns and finding ways to handle them is a great way to prepare for a baby.”
Talk to your partner. She might have the same questions and concerns about becoming a mom. Figure out the answers together and talk about how you can support each other. Look for help from other resources, like your baby’s pediatrician or classes that teach new parents to change, swaddle and feed newborns.
2. Bond with your baby
“There are certain things only fathers can provide, and there is no substitute,” Holz said.
Here are a few easy ways to bond with your little one:
- Hold and swaddle your newborn.
- Feed your baby. If he is breastfed, ask your partner to pump so you can bottle feed him. Let mom sleep while you warm a bottle for a middle-of-the-night feeding.
- Let your partner have a day out by herself. Caring for baby alone will increase your confidence in your parenting skills.
- Read your newborn a story. You don’t have to wait until baby can look at the book or talk.
3. Have a backup plan
Sometimes nothing will soothe a crying baby. Call a trusted relative or friend to help if you get frustrated. If no one is around to help, put baby in his crib. It’s ok to put him in a safe place and take time to calm down.
4. Help mom recover
Show your partner you care by picking up some of the household chores she may usually do. Reducing her workload will help her recover from childbirth and get some needed sleep.
“Be intentional and proactive about asking your partner what she needs,” Holz said. “Provide physical as well as emotional support.”
5. Encourage your partner
Parenting can be exhausting for both moms and dads. Remind your partner she’s doing a great job and you’re proud of her. Simple words of affirmation and encouragement go a long way.
6. Take time for yourself
It’s important for both dads and moms to take time for themselves. Ask someone you trust to babysit so you can spend time with your partner, even for a little while. Take turns watching the baby so the other parent can spend time alone.
“Having balance in our lives helps us perform our best,” Holz said.