Gone are the days when dads could laze around all day while mom took care of the baby. The only time dads were usually included, was right at the beginning – during the baby making process. But things have changed a great deal since then. Nowadays new dads need just as many tools as moms — to make them just as efficient.
A baby completely changes the order of things and will most likely be the centre of attention in your home for a while. This sometimes means mom is ignored. But remember she just gave birth to a baby and she is probably still exhausted and going through a multitude of emotions brought on by her changing hormone levels. While baby needs undivided attention, so does mom. This means that dad has a big task ahead of him of taking care of both mom and baby.
You may find that for the first time since your bachelor days, you are now left to prepare dinners or do the cleaning and laundry. Choose simple yet nutritious meals and pop all the clothes in the washing machine. Just remember to sort clothes according to their colour. Mom should be able to advice on how to do this.
Hold up on sex
Having a new baby means there will be more important things to do than have sex – at least for 6 weeks. Do remember that this is not a permanent situation. As baby grows and becomes stronger, so does moms desire to become intimate again. Your partner is also impressed with just how helpful you’ve been and is probably more attracted to you doing the laundry then she is when you’re lazing on the couch playing the Xbox – so be patient, you will be rewarded.
Jealousy makes you nasty
Sometimes dads find this change of priorities difficult to cope with and become jealous. Jealousy in dads often occurs because they feel disconnected from the pregnancy since baby is growing in mom’s womb. Or when the baby is born and you have to step aside — while your baby becomes the centre of the universe according to your partner. Adjusting to this new way of life takes a bit of getting used to – especially the sleep deprivation that comes along with the new title of being parents.
Coping with less sleep
But don’t fret, there are ways to reduce the number of hours you will stay awake on most nights. Both mom and dad can share the responsibility of waking up at night to feed baby. Mom can express her milk so that she is not always needed every time the baby cries. Setting up a routine will definitely benefit the whole family. When baby is sleeping though, take the opportunity to get some much needed sleep or just hang out and catch up on each other’s day.
Remember baby’s thrive in calm environments, therefore it’s very important for you and your partner to relax and have time to yourselves to recuperate. Some dads prefer to sleep in a separate room during the week, to ensure that they are productive when at work.
What can dad do to bond with baby?
There are several things that new dads can do to bond with their new baby. Spending as much time as you can with your baby is the best way to bond. This will often mean cutting out on going out as much as you used to. Other ideas include:
- Taking baby out for a walk (or more accurately a pram ride)
- Feeding baby
- Bathing baby
Even if you spend a lot of time at work, get involved with what’s happening at home as soon as you step through the door.
Stock up your energy reserves
Eating healthily can also help if exercising is the last thing on your mind. Junk food can slow you down and make you feel tired all the time, which is the last thing you need with a new baby in the house. Family or hired help will go a long way in helping you cope with your new reality. Grandparents are fantastic as they often bring prepared meals every time they visit. Remember it’s normal to need help, it’s almost impossible to do it all alone.
How to bath baby
It can be scary bathing a tiny baby. Always remember to stay calm and set aside enough time. After all there is no use rushing through it just so that you can quickly return to watching the soccer game.
What you will need:
- Warm water – check the temperature of the water using your elbow before placing baby inside the tub
- Baby soap for older babies (from 6 months)
- Baby soft towels
- Plastic jug to use to pour water over baby’s body
- A baby bath tub
Place baby in their bath tub and pour water over baby’s body and wash baby’s hair and body using baby soap.
Make sure the baby is leaning back so the water does not come down her little face.
It’s also important to speak to your baby while doing this. Most babies enjoy bathtime and this is a great way to bond.
Also remember to maintain a steady grip around your newborn as they need to be balanced and vigorous rubbing is not needed.
You cannot leave the baby alone in the bath tub even if it’s just for a moment. Anything can happen since babies have no sense of balance.
Knowledge that helps to keep you sane
Moms are often told how to look after baby right after giving birth. Some dads may not be present to also listen in on this conversation that usually occurs between a new mom and the health specialists. This is what you should know.
Baby’s umbilical cord – Keep this area clean and dry with antiseptic tissues and powder, until the stump drops off by itself. Do not touch it.
Baby’s nails – Keep baby’s nails short by constantly filling them to avoid face scratching.
Changing nappies – Always wipe baby’s bottom from front to back if it’s a little girl to avoid spreading bacteria or causing a yeast infection. Never ever pull back the foreskin of your baby boy. Also it’s actually not necessary to bath your newborn every day — just wipe the smell prone and hidden areas.
Weird breathing sounds – Most new parents are unaware of the weird sounds newborns make. Don’t worry too much about this as it’s perfectly normal. Your baby is learning how to control their breathing so expect some grunting, here and there.
Sleep-time – When babies sleep they are able to do so peacefully even with background noise. Therefore there is no need to tiptoe around them but loud music is a no-no.
Cry baby – Babies cry a lot in the first year but more especially during the first three months of their lives. It’s not easy to always manage to tell what’s wrong in the first week of their lives. But as time goes on, you will be surprised to find that you manage to figure out what the problem is most of the time. But generally, babies cry when they are hungry, uncomfortable, tired, in pain, ill (cross this out by checking if their temperature is higher than normal), bored or scared.
Soothing baby – Babies enjoy being touched and held. Rub your baby’s back or sing her a song, this usually works when looking to calm her down. If nothing seems to help, then perhaps there is something more serious that needs checking by your doctor.
But most importantly, congratulations dad. This is a learning experience for both you and your partner and dont worry, you will learn most things as you go along. Your partner is lucky to have someone so supportive and understanding. Remain positive, be reliable and remember you’re a great dad.