Tips for new fathers
Having a baby is not just an exciting and daunting time for the mum. Dad rides the emotional rollercoaster too.
The arrival of a newborn is a joyous time. But sleep deprivation and stress can quickly envelope the whole family. Therefore, it’s vital for both parents to recognise the impact this can have on their wellbeing and that of their baby.
The early days and months of a baby’s life are critical for its development of trust, self-esteem and the ability to regulate emotions. Babies must feel loved and secure – even when their parents are exhausted.
The period from birth to age 3 is also when 80% of a child’s brain develops. The foundations for future learning and relationships are built during this time through everyday cuddles, songs, play and nurture from parents, grandparents and other special carers.
Bonding with baby is not just a job for mum. You need time with bub too. Touching, talking and skin-to-skin contact helps to stimulate vital connections in the baby’s brain. These connections are essential for all learning, including language, social and emotional development.
BeyondBlue says the best way for dads to build their parenting confidence is to get involved from the outset.
- Get hands-on with bathing, feeding and dressing your baby. This one-on-one time gives you a chance to connect and bond.
- Share the load with your partner – that will help reduce physical and emotional stress for both of you.
- Parenting is a team effort – and the variety of style from mum and dad is good for baby.
- Talk to your partner – you’re both going through different changes and it’s good to talk about these.
- Be patient – sometimes bonding doesn’t happen overnight. But it will happen.
Academics and medical professionals from Newcastle University also recognise that getting ready for and welcoming a newborn can be a difficult time for dads. Their SMS4dads research trial aims to help a new father to connect with his baby and support his partner.
Through a program of text messages, expectant dads can monitor their own health and wellbeing, as well as the development of their baby.
Evaluations from participants in the 2016 feasibility study were overwhelmingly positive: 92% of the dads said the program of supportive text messages helped in their transition to becoming a father.
That’s great news for the researchers – and the entire family of each participant.
It’s true that babies change everything. Being prepared will help make the challenge the most rewarding time of your life. Enjoy the ride!