I am extremely lucky! My husband has been “all hands on deck” since the minute Caden was born (and my entire pregnancy too). He asks questions, listens to my research findings over and over again, and finds things he can to do help while I was busy doing something else. I don’t know how I would have survived the newborn stage without him…I have a new respect for moms doing it alone (you ROCK!). Those first few weeks are hard for dads because they’re left thinking, “What CAN I do?”. Babies NEED and want their mamas so dad is left feeling like he can’t do too much.
Here are some perfect ways for Daddy to get involved from the get-go:
LET DAD IN THE DELIVERY ROOM
The majority of people do plan on having dad in the delivery room for the birth of their child. However, I have, on occasion, heard women say they DON’T want their husband/partner in the delivery room with them and my jaw drops! I totally understand if you don’t want him see your lady-bits in that “situation”…Nate wasn’t allowed anywhere near the area, I made him stay by my head the whole time! But, please don’t rob them of the moment their son or daughter first comes into the world! Nate never ever cries, but when Caden was born and looked right up at him and mad eye-contact with his daddy for the first time…the dam broke! It would have been so selfish of me to have that moment all to myself…let him enjoy the birth of the miracle you both created!
TAKE TIME OFF
I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but if you can, take advantage of paternity leave! Nate took off work to be with us for a month after Caden was born…a whole month! I cannot even being to explain how helpful this was! We really got to work as a team and went through the learning experience together. We both got to know Caden’s cues and we developed a “routine” together. Even when I was the most frustrated, I knew he was there to help in any way I needed. Whether it was so I could shower or nap, or when I just needed him to vacuum when I felt like I was going to go crazy because the house seemed so messy! As a first time dad, being there with us built up his confidence too. Newborns change daily and I’m glad he got to be there to witness the changes and the milestones with me!
SKIN TO SKIN TIME
You always hear about how important it is for baby to get skin-to-skin time with mom after they’re born, but don’t forget about dad!! Your newborn will learn that daddy is a safe place too, deepening your relationship from the beginning. When mom is napping after the exhaustion that is childbirth, dads should take that as an opportunity for some skin-to-skin contact with their little one instead of laying him/her in a bassinet. Your baby will immediately feel calm and comforted. Baby will grow up happy and healthy when receiving regular affection from both parents!
Y’all, I literally did not change a SINGLE diaper while we were in the hospital. That’s right, I was spared from dealing with the tarry, black, goo that works it’s way out of sweet baby’s body. Nate, who had never changed a diaper before in his life, jumped right in and took this job seriously. While I relaxed in the hospital bed, Nate changed every single diaper, and handed Caden to me for snuggles when he was done. Once we got home, he didn’t stop. He was a diaper-changing machine. I was especially cautious when dealing with Caden’s circumcision so I was so thankful Nate took charge! He could see that I was exhausted from nursing around the clock so he would take Caden, without me having to ask (ah, that’s the best), whenever it was diaper duty time.
Whether you’re feeding your newborn formula or breastmilk, Dad can definitely be involved in the feedings! We introduced the bottle when Caden was three weeks old. We waited until he had the hang of nursing so we wouldn’t confuse him…we didn’t want to wait TOO long so he wouldn’t deny the bottle all together. The first time Caden took the bottle, I left the room and let Daddy and Caden have their time together. He never had any issues switching from bottle to breast and it was AMAZING! I finally had a little freedom and could get out of the house for more than a couple hours knowing he would be fine and fed! I like that Caden knows that Daddy can give him what he needs too; not just mama! I also think that helped Nate form another type of bond with Caden…he finally felt like he could DO something!
Bath time is a perfect opportunity for daddies to bond with their babies. I know my little newborn was super squirmy at bath time and HATED being cold during the sponge bath days. It broke my heart to hear those new-baby cries and I was so scared he was going to wiggle right out of my hands. Nate would hold Caden steady while we sponged him off and worked as a team to get it done as fast as possible. Even now, Caden is 7 months old and Nate runs the bath time show. Caden loves to play in the tub for as long as we’ll let him. Nate supervises while I take a shower, wash bottles/pump parts and get things ready for the next day. I head up when bath time is over for our bedtime routine (nurse, books, goodnight songs, bed)! I would be sad to miss bath time EVERY night, but Nate works 2-3 nights a week so I get my bath time fix with Caden on those nights. 🙂
Side note: If you have an Emler Swim School nearby, they offer a Bathtime Babies Class starting when your baby is two months old and it is FREE!! We started going as soon as we could and alternate every other week getting in the pool with Caden. This is another super fun way for dad to have some special time with baby!
BOOKS BEFORE BED
When Nate is home, he is the bedtime story reader! I read to Caden as often as I can…I LOVE books…but I love hearing Nate read to him and seeing Caden staring and listening so intently to his voice. After I finish nursing, Nate comes up to pick up where we left off in whatever chapter book we’re reading at the time (babies don’t just need picture books!). I think it’s important for Caden to see us both sharing our love for reading with him. When Nate’s at work, I choose different books. Our chapter book is for us to read together as a family!
LET HIM DO HIS THANG
My last bit of “advice” would be to let him do stuff his way. He may rock baby a different way than you would, sing a different night-time lullaby, hold the bottle at a different angle, or swaddle him in some crazy way but IT’S OKAY!! I am totally guilty of trying to “correct” or give my hubby “helpful pointers” at times. I’ve tried to get better about this! If you are always giving him reminders or pointing out things he’s doing “wrong”, it is just going to leave him feeling less-than-confident about his daddy abilities! Trust him to take care of your little one and remember to tell him he’s doing an amazing job EVERY day…not just on Father’s Day! 🙂
How did you involve your husband with care?