Becoming a dad for the first time is probably the most exciting and scary moment in life. While mothers get loaded with all kinds of information, fathers are mostly excluded from the whole process until the baby gets here. Beginning a relationship with a child and learning to be a good dad is a steep learning curve for most men. However, the intense influx of emotions, lack of sleep, and no information can make it quite hard.
So if you are new to the dad’s club and are wondering where you need to start, here are a few tips on connecting with your baby and having an impact on the child’s life.
- Get involved from the beginning: As soon as the baby is born, it is time to start bonding. Get hands-on with the daily care of the baby. The best way to build your communication skills and confidence with the baby is to spend time dressing, playing, bathing, settling, and nappy changing. Spending time with your baby in everyday activities will build a positive relationship and also give a break to the baby’s other parent.
- Build trust and connection: Your baby will feel safe and secure with you through physical touch. Try carrying and holding your baby when you can. Holding the baby to your chest will let them hear your heartbeat and calm them down quicker. Such bonding with a newborn will stimulate the baby’s brain development.
- Help with feeding: During the first few weeks after babies are born, the feeding schedule is all over the place. Breast milk is the best food your baby can have. It is customised to meet your baby’s sustenance needs. While your partner is learning to breastfeed, your breastfeeding support will help. Try helping out by giving some practical support, like a glass of water or more pillows. You can also be more hands-on with the feeding process by feeding pumped milk to the baby while the mum takes her rest. If your partner is unable to breastfeed, learn more about the formula and bottle-feeding to be able to help out.
- Pay attention to baby’s cues: While we all wish at times that babies could speak and let us know what they want, you will have to rely on the baby’s cues to make sure. The baby's body language and behaviour will help you learn about their needs. It will also make it easier for you and your partner to connect to the baby and each other.
- Talk to the baby: Babies can start hearing and distinguishing between voices when they’re in the womb. Try talking or singing with your partner during her pregnancy to help the baby recognise your voice. Once the baby is born, talk to them when you’re settling them or changing nappies. Your baby’s language and learning will develop with every word they hear.
- Get all the information you need: With babies, there are always new things to learn. Find the information you need by searching reputable online sites, talking to other dads, and by attending different parenting groups. Whatever you do, however, remember that the best way to learn is to do by spending a lot of time with your baby.
- Look after yourself and your family: Stay positive and support your partner during this new journey. Having a baby can put a strain on your relationship with your partner. Share expectations and discuss how both of you feel. Let your partner know that you care about making it work.
- Accept and ask for help: Make the process of transitioning into parenthood easier by accepting and asking for help when needed. Talk with your partner about accepting help from friends and family or about any paid work arrangements that can make it easier to look after your newborn.