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8 Parenting Tips For First-Time Dads

Father feeding his baby | Image: NASA

Are you about to be a dad for the first time? First, congratulations on your new status! Being a new dad can be overwhelmingly exciting and exhausting and if you’re reading this, it means you’re getting yourself ready for this exciting journey.

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Being a dad is a lifelong commitment, even when your child or children become older and on their own you still feel that primordial attachment and need to care for them.

So as you begin this new exciting journey, below are a list of tips that might help you:

Expect The Unexpected
This is probably the most important advice you’ll need because being a dad can be awe-inspiring and quite frustrating at the same time. Despite all the preparations you’re making as a first-time dad, you will still encounter things that nothing can prepare you for. Just knowing that the unexpected can, and will, happen may just help you to face those challenges when they come. And it’s totally fine if you don’t know what to do but make sure you are willing to make efforts.

Get Involved
Getting involved in the daily care of your baby – dressing, settling, playing, bathing and nappy changing – is the best way to build your skills and confidence. These everyday activities also create lots of one-on-one time with your baby, which is the building block of a positive relationship. Another bonus is that it’s also good for your baby’s other parent to have a break.

Accept or ask for help
If someone says, ‘Is there anything I can do?’, it’s OK to say ‘Yes!’ Talk with your partner about when you’ll accept help from family, friends, colleagues or neighbours. It might be as simple as asking someone to buy some milk for you when they come over to visit.

Learn your baby’s cues
Crying is not the only communication means babies use. In fact, babies do express needs and wants through different cues since birth, including gestures, movements, facial expression and sounds. Babies give ‘cues’ or signals to what they need through their behaviour and body language. By really paying attention to your baby’s cues, over time you’ll learn how to work out what your baby needs.

Mother, father and baby girl | Image: Reproductive Science Center

Talk to your baby
Talk while you’re carrying or changing your baby. For example, ‘Let’s get this nappy changed. That feels better, doesn’t it? Here’s a nice clean nappy. Don’t cry – we’ll be finished soon’. Every word the baby hears helps develop his language and learning and strengthens your relationship with him. Telling stories, reading books or singing songs has the same effect.

Pick up the slack
It might seem obvious, but here’s an invaluable piece of new-dad advice: Never ask an exhausted new mother, “What’s for dinner?” Instead, try, “Hey, what can I fix you for supper?” Parenthood is more than a full-time job for the first few weeks, which means Mom’s share of chores will pile up. So pick up the slack on dishes, laundry, dusting, thank-you notes — whatever needs doing, whenever you can.

Take care of your relationship
Caring for your baby is only half your job; the other is giving your main squeeze some TLC. Step out for dinner or a walk when a family member comes to visit. Find time to cook together, cuddle on the couch and maybe even…wait for it…you know! Having a new baby can put extra strain on your relationship with your partner. Try to stay positive and support each other as you learn how to parent together. Asking how your partner is going lets your partner know you care. Negotiating and sharing expectations is good practice for later parenting. This can be about everything from deciding on paid work arrangements to who cooks dinner.

Take care of yourself too
If you’re well, you’ll be better able to look after your baby and support your partner. You can keep your energy up with healthy lifestyle choices and as much sleep and rest as you can – even if it’s not at night.

In this article:
Parentingparenting advice
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