13 TIPS FOR NEW DADS

Survival Tips to Make a Great Start to Fatherhood

13 Tips For New Dads - tips

1. Get Hands-on

Try everything & chip in where you can

Jump right in and get involved in the daily care of your baby from day one.

Nappy changing, bathing, settling, dressing are all things that will increase your skills and confidence as a new father.

Helping with the daily care of your newborn is also a great way to bond with your child and a great way to start your life as a new dad.

Parenting skills require practice. Getting hands-on also gives your partner a break from the action.

 

2. Establish a Routine

If possible, plan a routine with your partner before baby arrives

Once baby arrives you may have to adapt your routine based on baby’s needs. This routine usually settles down at around three months old.

Up until five months old, babies will require between 16 and 20 hours of sleep every day. Generally, babies sleep on a fast-paced 20-minute cycle so you should expect crying, noises or wriggling every half an hour.

Developing a nightly sleeping ritual is important. Singing a song, reading, or a massage can all help to create a sleeping routine.

It’s best to let the baby soothe themself rather than putting them down when they are already asleep.

3. Be Attentive

Show your attention & affection

Learning your baby’s signals and body language will help you understand what they need. 

This will take practice and patience to learn.

Showing your baby affection and responding to their signals helps to release oxytocin. This is a natural hormone that makes them feel good and helps their brain develop.

Copying your baby’s expressions and maintaining strong eye contact will help to strengthen the bond and attachment between you and your baby.

13 Tips For New Dads - tips

4. Connect Through Touch & Learn to Swaddle

Physical touch helps your baby feel safe & build a bond with you 

It also the most common way to sooth a crying baby.

Swaddling is wrapping a baby to make them comfortable. The pressure on their bodies is like being in the womb. It also helps to stop baby wriggling around and scratching themself.

You can practice swaddling before the baby comes. It’s a four-step process that takes time to master but it will pay off.

 

13 Tips For New Dads - tips

5. Talk to Your Baby

Talk to your baby as much as you can

Whether it’s changing their nappy, soothing them or carrying them around when you talk to your baby it helps their development. 

Hearing your voice will help your baby to develop their own voice and language.

As well as talking to your baby during daily routines, you can also read to them, sing and tell stories. Don’t feel embarrassed, talking with your baby in a warm, sing-song voice helps your baby feel safe and happy.

 

6. Help with Breastfeeding

It’s a family event! 

 

Helping with breastfeeding is an opportunity to improve your relationship with your partner and your baby.

Your support can be practical like getting a pillow, clearing the couch or bringing your partner food and drink. It’s amazing how hungry and thirsty breastfeeding can make a new mum.

Simply being there, showing encouragement and reassurance will help you both learn about feeding.

Of course, it’s important to know that some women cannot breastfeed so you might start with formula from the beginning.
No parent should feel guilty about bottle feeding. When commencing bottle feeding (formula or expressed breast milk), new dads can really step up and support their partners with feeding.

Whether you are helping with bottle feeding during the day or taking on night feedings, just remember to enter quietly, keep the environment dark and interactions to a minimum. This will help with feeding and getting your baby back to sleep.

Most importantly, remember to burp your baby before putting them down again.

7. One-on-One Time

Spending & enjoying regular one-on-one time when your baby is active is important

One-on-One Time creates bonding moments when you are both at full attention. This is the time you can really pick up on your baby’s signals and start to see their personality coming through.

Time with your baby doesn’t have to be just toys and games. One-on-One time activities can include daily tummy time, where your baby lies on their tummy with weight on the forearms to help build head, neck and upper body strength.

As well as strengthening your bond, it gives your partner time for a much-needed break.

 

 

13 Tips For New Dads - tips

8. Be Persistent & Get the Info You Need

Whether it is baby number one or number four, every baby is different

There are always new things to learn when it comes to parenting.

One of the best ways to get the information you need for your baby is to spend time with them and learn their routine, signals and personality.

Stress and anxiety can build but stick with it and resist the urge to pass your baby back to your partner and you will build your confidence and skills as a new dad.

13 Tips For New Dads - tips

9. Listen in & Get Help

Don’t be shy to accept or ask for help

Many people, from relatives to strangers in the street, will offer you advice, but your partner and your baby are the most important ones to listen to.

The more time you spend with your baby, you will learn what they are telling you and what they need. 

Spending time and supporting your partner, especially by talking through the challenges and how you are feeling, will allow you to know you have each other’s back.

Importantly though if you feel you need help from others don’t be afraid to ask for it.

 

10. Look After Your Relationship & Embrace Intimacy

Learning to listen to each other & sharing expectations is good practice for later parenting

Every age of a child brings new challenges and balancing the baby duties and workload will help look after your relationship.


Of course, after baby arrives a common question dads have is about being intimate with their partner. Whilst the general rule is it is safe to have sex six weeks after delivery, it will often take longer than this for both parents to recover and be in the mood.

When initiating sexual intimacy, remember to take it slow, be gentle, receptive and supportive (and don’t forget – plenty of lube!)

Also remember that if your partner isn’t up for it, her body has been through a lot, she may be tired, emotional, touched out, recovering or one of many other possibilities – don’t take it personally.

11. Look After Yourself

Both mentally and physically

Taking some time to look after yourself will help reduce stress and anxiety and allow you to enjoy the time being a new father.

One helpful way to look after yourself and your family is learning to say no.

When your baby arrives there is often a stream of family, friends and visitors who want to meet the little bundle of joy. Remember to consider how you and your partner feel, whether you are exhausted or stressed etc. 

Learning to say no can help you have a stress-free environment and welcome guests when you are ready.

 

13 Tips For New Dads - tips

12. Keep Your Promises

Keeping your promises as a dad and a partner is essential for your relationships

Whether it’s while creating and sticking to your newborns routine or while your child grows, keeping your promise as a dad and a partner is essential for your relationships.

These promises of support and being there help form the backbone of your bonds and relationships. It doesn’t mean you need to make unrealistic promises and commitments, but be honest with yourself, make promises where required, and support your little one and partner to help create strong relationships. 

13 Tips For New Dads - tips

13. Be Ready & Responsive

Whether it’s a reach, a cry, a look or a wriggle – your baby will give you signals

Being responsive to your baby helps them develop their communication and social skills.

Lots of unexpected events happen with a new baby and being ready for all challenges will help you improve your parenting skills.

Original content adapted with permission from https://whws.org.au/

Richard’s research revealed possible long-term negative impacts on the children of dads with mental health issues. Fathers’ depressive symptoms in the first year after the birth predicted behaviour problems in their children years later.

“If dads’ mental health has such a dramatic impact then we need to be screening dads for depression, not just mums,” Richard explains.

In response to these limitations, Richard and his team have designed a smart-phone based program that allows mobile connection for new and expectant dads.

Participants receive texts containing information and links, and self-report their mood. If the mood tracker identifies dads as needing extra support, they will be offered a phone call from a counsellor trained in this area.

Following the success of the pilot of the SMS4dads program, Funding was received to enable a National roll-out.

“When dad’s miss antenatal classes or activities, they also miss out on contact and links to other people.  They may never get the chance to say to anyone, look I’m really stressed,” he points out.

“SMS4dads is a way of bringing dads into the health system and keeping them linked in with services and support,” explains Richard.

Richard Fletcher

Associate Professor, PhD

Richard credits a varied career, a talented and innovative team, and much life experience for affording him the insight needed to address the challenges related to actively engaging dads.

After completing his masters in Medical Science, studying epidemiology, Richard earned his PhD focusing on fathers and attachment.

“Fathers are invisible in many places, and that is endemic. Not because people dislike fathers, but because the system is set up to be focused on mothers.”

Some services and organisations are aware of the need to engage dads, but have been unsuccessful in their attempts.

“When people are challenged about this, they generally want dads involved,” Richard affirms.

“Often, however, they just don’t know how to do it.”

Richard works with health professionals on issues related to fathers, and has delivered many antenatal programs for expectant dads.

He credits his own family with giving him an understanding of the role of fathers needed to make his work relevant.

“I have three daughters and two stepdaughters,”

“My kids would say they taught me just about everything I know and they’d be right. They’ve taught me a lot, and still do.”

Richard’s research revealed possible long-term negative impacts on the children of dads with mental health issues. Fathers’ depressive symptoms in the first year after the birth predicted behaviour problems in their children years later.

“If dads’ mental health has such a dramatic impact then we need to be screening dads for depression, not just mums,” Richard explains.

In response to these limitations, Richard and his team have designed a smart-phone based program that allows mobile connection for new and expectant dads.

Participants receive texts containing information and links, and self-report their mood. If the mood tracker identifies dads as needing extra support, they will be offered a phone call from a counsellor trained in this area.

Following the success of the pilot of the SMS4dads program, Funding was received to enable a National roll-out.

“When dad’s miss antenatal classes or activities, they also miss out on contact and links to other people.  They may never get the chance to say to anyone, look I’m really stressed,” he points out.

“SMS4dads is a way of bringing dads into the health system and keeping them linked in with services and support,” explains Richard.