When a new baby is born, many fathers don’t know how or when to step in and help. They might be confused about their role, wanting to be supportive, but not always confident in their abilities to care for an infant. Dad can actually be the “secret weapon” when it comes to infant care, many times they just need a little nudge!
A Proactive Presence
The best way for Dad to start helping is to begin each day with the question, ““What can I do to help?” These words are worth their weight in gold, and will be met with sincere appreciation. Moms most often take the lead when it comes to caring for a newborn, so she will most likely know what needs to be done. I always suggest that dads proactively check in with their significant other throughout the day and asking her this question.
Sometimes this means getting caught in the other end of a mood swing here or there due to lack of sleep and hormone fluctuation. This probably means mom needs more help than she actually realizes, or is willing to admit. Maintaining a calm, supportive temperament is the best thing that you can do to help her through this trying time.
Through my experience as a child sleep consultant, mothers who have their husbands full support as an equal partner throughout the day and night, have the most success when it comes to implementing healthy sleep habits and routines. One of my favorite ways to establish this partnership is with “The Finishing Touch Technique.” This is when mom nurses baby and then goes straight to get some rest. At that point Dad then takes over, burps baby and soothes the baby to sleep.
After baby has learned to latch, and Mom and baby have a solid nursing routine established, I recommend that Dad feed baby at least one bottle of expressed breast milk in a 24 hour period. A great time to do this is during one of the night feedings. This will give mom a chance to get a solid period of sleep at night, and it will also be a great bonding experience that dad and baby will look forward to.
There is something about a father’s touch that is unmatched. I always tell dads to never underestimate the bond they will develop with their child or how important their presence is, even when your child is just an infant. Take an active role in infant care and prepare for the arrival of your child. Don’t leave everything up to Mom.
If Dad has no experience with infants I tell them to get educated; read books, do research and/or take parenting classes. You never know when a tip you read or fact you learned will come in handy at 3 AM when everyone is exhausted! The more both parents know the easier things will be!