Guys! Did you see the picture of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson feeding his wife pasta while she breastfeeds their baby? If not, go check it out. This is where fatherhood is today! No longer are men relegated to standing outside the room. Childrearing is no longer solely women’s business. Today’s dads are involved, hands-on, and totally rocking it.
A newborn baby, tiny, fragile, and completely dependent on your partner and you—it changes your whole world in a way you can never be entirely prepared for. Not only do you have a new addition to your family, but your partner has now become a mother. She too is going through her own transition. It’s a new day, and it’s a new life. You’re a new dad!
Mum and baby have been connected for 9 months even before your baby is born; there is no denying the connection and instant bond that a mother and baby have. Mum is generally the primary caregiver, especially in the beginning. This means mum and baby instantly have time to bond and connect throughout the day, even more so if mum is breastfeeding. As a dad, you can feel a little pushed out by the seemingly fast bond between a mother and a baby. Where does a dad belong in this burgeoning love story?
But don’t worry Dad, there is plenty of room for you, and mum needs more love and support from you than she ever needed before. What can you do in the first three months? You need time to bond with your baby, your partner needs support, and there will be some new tasks around the house you need to attend to constantly.
Redefining Your Life From a Couple to a Family
Everything is different now. Prior to the birth of your superb being, you were most likely the centre of all your partner’s love and affection. Now, to be brutally honest, you’re not going to be high on the agenda. Your partner will be wholly and solely concerned with keeping your baby alive by feeding and sleeping that little munchkin around the clock. She also needs to make sure she stays alive and relatively clean, with a shower somewhere and a mouthful of food at some point in time. You are now a dad, this is the time for you to become your wife’s hero.
It’s a careful balance of support and respect. Supporting your wife in your new role, respecting her decisions as a mother, and still carving out some much-needed baby time for yourself—it’s tricky; I’ll grant you that. I laughed with my husband that if we hadn’t had twins, he would not have got a look in. Women are so physically connected with their children. The cries, the emotions, the breast leaking—it’s visceral, expansive, and protective. Dad, I promise there is room for you, and it’s vital for you to have time with your baby as well.
How to Find a Healthy Balance
1. Bond With Your Baby
Men with babies are sexy! Any woman will tell you so. As a new dad, you can bond with your baby by spending time with them, bathing them, burping your baby. You can learn how to give infant massage, swaddle them for sleep, settle them to sleep. You can also take them for walks, have skin-to-skin cuddles, sing them a song, and take a night feed with a bottle of expressed breastmilk or formula.
When to Bond With Your Baby
It can seem like there is no getting between Mama and her new baby. However, you can still find the perfect time to bond with your baby and give mama the rest she needs.
A great time to spend time with your baby is during the mornings. After the morning feed, take your baby and let your partner have a little rest. You can burp baby, sing them a song, give cuddles, or pop them in the bouncy chair while you take a shower before work. The morning is an excellent time because babies are usually pretty happy in the morning after a good sleep. Mum will be glad to have a few extra zzz’s, and she won’t be feeling stressed as your baby most likely won’t be fussy or crying at this time of day.
After a whole day on her own, mum might be ready for a rest and some support. Babies at this time of day can often be fussy and not too happy. Popping them into the baby carrier and heading out for a quick walk can do wonders for everyone. Baby can get some much-needed sleep, mum gets a little break, and you get some cool cuddles on the go.
The 10 pm Night Feed
The 10 pm night feed is a great feed for dad to take on. This way, your partner can head to bed nice and early around 8 or 9 pm. You can feed the baby with a bottle of expressed breastmilk or formula. 10 pm is not too late that it makes it tough to get up in the morning, but this gives mum a really nice, long rest. Depending on the age of your baby, they might get a good 4 to 6 hours after this feed. This means your wife got a solid 6 to 8 hours of sleep. And while she gets that nice, rested deep sleep, you get some bonding time with your baby, and everyone is happy.
Dads, this is a great way to bond with your baby. After a bath, pop a diaper on your baby and put him or her on your chest for cuddles. If it is a bit chilly, cover the baby and you with a towel. You and mum can share skin-to-skin cuddles and develop a healthy and natural attachment to your child. Skin-to-skin cuddles calm and help relax your baby. It also helps with quality sleep, regulating breathing and temperature. For women, it also helps to stimulate the production of breastmilk.
Play With Your Baby
There is limited awake time at this age, but as the weeks progress, your baby’s awake time starts to stretch out. Sing to your baby, look them in the eyes, and talk with them. Put them on a mat for tummy time and encourage them as they learn to lift their head and strengthen their neck muscles. Enjoy being with your baby.
Soothe a Crying Baby
Mum might come rushing in at the sound of her baby crying. She has a really physical response. Her breasts are ready, and her mind is in tune. However, in a respectful and supportive way, let mum know that you also need to learn how to settle your baby. Perhaps mum can show you how your baby loves to be held. Or maybe you can find your unique way of soothing your baby. A little hint: sometimes a change of scenery is a great way to settle a baby down. Check out this article on swaddling; it will really help you soothe your baby to sleep.
2. How to Be There for Your Partner
Respect Her Decisions as a Mother
This means supporting her in the decisions she makes around feeding her baby. Many women are fraught with guilt over not being able to breastfeed. Let her know that whatever happens, all that matters is that your baby is fed, healthy, and happy. Respect her decisions around the baby. This is a huge, new journey for your partner, and your support and respect will help develop her confidence as a new mother.
Make Feeding Comfortable
Make sure mum has snacks, water, her phone, the remote, and anything else she might need within a close distance. Whether breastfeeding, pumping, bottle feeding or a mixture, it is easy to feel like you have never moved far from the sofa or bed. Help her to feel comfortable and looked after so she can concentrate on feeding.
Also, if mum is hanging out in bed doing a lot feeding, go and get baby and bring your little bundle of joy to your wife. Then, when your baby has finished, you can burp baby and chill together as a family, enjoying your new family life.
Let Her Show You
Let her show you how to bathe and change the baby. She can take delight in her superb mothering skills. Then she can feel confident you know what you are doing. Through this, you can bathe your baby every other night. Or you can give baby their massage after a bath, giving you some nice dad bonding time together.
Do a Little Extra Around the House
A new baby means a whole bunch of new chores around the house you never had before. Get acquainted with the washing machine if you haven’t already. There is a lot more washing with a baby. Learn how to wash and sterilise bottles and pacifiers. Learn how to warm bottles safely and empty the nappy bin. Your wife’s biggest concern is the baby, and if the house is clean and tidy, she will feel more relaxed and calm. If you’ve got the extra cash, you can also hire a cleaner for the first few months to take the pressure of housework off the both of you. This way, you can both enjoy your little ray of sunshine.
Dad, Take a Paternity Leave
Workplaces are getting better and better at offering paternity leave. See what your workplace offers and take some time off to be at home with your partner and baby. Having time at home, in the beginning, will really help you bond with your baby and be there for your partner during these few hectic months.
Don’t Assume She’s Bonding Instantly With Her Baby
Although that’s the stereotype, one we played on in this article, mums also worry about bonding and attachment with the baby. If she’s having trouble breastfeeding, if you spend time in the NICU, if the baby is not sleeping well, and even if everything is going perfectly, she might still be worried. The baby blues are very normal. However, if you notice that your partner is not feeling well, go and see your doctor and talk about it. It’s very normal and very okay, but it’s essential to get help.
Setting Boundaries for Visitors
Help your partner set firm boundaries for visitors, even family. If it’s time to put baby for a nap, go for it. Remember, having lots of people around and lots of different people holding your baby is actually very tiring for them. Help your partner and yourself by setting clear boundaries, and put your baby first.
Okay. Generally, your partner will get the okay after 6 weeks. However, it is highly likely that she may still not be ready. Go slow, go very, very slowly. The more patient, understanding, gentle, romantic, and helpful you are will help you in the long run. Just remember, she has had a baby on her all day and most of the night. It is very reasonable that she might want the tiny bit of personal space that she’s got not to be interrupted by you wanting to touch her. It’s hard, but the time will come when her eyes will light up with that special look. Perhaps with you washing the dishes (this is now very sexy), maybe you just settled and put the baby down for a nap, or did you make dinner and prepare snacks? Sexy is now called helping without being asked.
3. How to Help With the Baby
Learn how to settle your baby. You can settle your baby to sleep just as well as mum. Learn how to swaddle your baby correctly; this is a great way to help calm and settle your baby. Get a white noise machine, and you’ll be on your way to settling your little bub to sleep while mum catches a break. Shush-pat is an excellent technique to learn to help settle your newborn to sleep.
Every night before bed, clean and sterilise the bottles and dummies. This way, the bottles and dummies are ready for use in the middle of the night and the next day.
Having a baby means a lot of washing. Clothes, sheets, muslins, bibs, and also nappies. Throw a load on before you go to work. Every little bit helps mum out during the day.
You’ll be swimming in diapers. You can change diapers, even poopy diapers! Keep the diaper bin empty and the fresh diapers ready to go.
Bath Time and Baby Massage
This is such a great time for both mum and dad to enjoy bonding with the baby. After you have both given your baby a pleasant and calming bath, find a safe surface and lay your baby down on a towel. Use coconut oil or a special massage oil or cream for babies. Give your baby a gentle, relaxing massage. Look up baby massage and find out how to give your baby a calming and soothing massage. Through this, you can bond with your baby and also prepare them for bed.
Women everywhere agree that a man wearing a baby is a good look. Strap your baby to your chest and head out for a walk. Your baby will get a nap, and you can enjoy some fresh air.
Dress Your Baby
You can do it! The number of layers will depend on where you live and the temperature there. However, generally, a nappy, singlet, and onesie are all you need. Or perhaps you are heading out for a visit someplace special? Check with your wife if she has a super cute outfit stashed for this very occasion. Chances are she does, and you can avoid you having to change baby again into the right outfit.
Pack the Nappy Bag
No longer can you simply grab your keys and wallet then head out the door. You now have a special bag that must go everywhere with you and your baby. This bag will need nappies, wipes, nappy cream, changes of clothes, muslin cloths, bottles, pacifiers, changing mat, plastic bags for dirty diapers, and potentially a little hat. Make sure this bag is always packed and ready to go.
4. Get in That Kitchen
Cooking and getting meals organised can be tough with a new baby around. Spend a Sunday morning prepping some meals that are easy to freeze. Lasagne, curry, spaghetti bolognese, and casseroles are easy to make, divide, and put in the freezer. If you are not confident in the kitchen, enlist some help. Mum, mother-in-law, sisters, and best friends will all be happy to help.
Otherwise, there are great meal delivery systems now, where all the healthy ingredients and recipes are delivered to your door. Then, all you have to do is stock the house with healthy snacks.
Hot Tip – Buy or make mum some lactation cookies to help boost her supply.
Your money will go quicker than ever before now that you have a baby. A study has calculated that you can spend around $13,000 during the first year of your baby’s life. Of course, this depends on your income and what you personally see as necessities. But, there is no escaping that your new bundle of joy will add new expenses to your budget. If you don’t already have a good system in place, now is the time to start.
The Barefoot Investor has a brilliant and easy-to-use system. It’s great for getting your finances in control, paying off debt, building a nest egg, and an easy way to manage your money day-to-day. It also comes with a series of date nights for you and your partner to get your money organised. This is an excellent way for you and your partner to connect.
The first 3 months of your baby’s life are exciting, nerve-wracking, exhausting, joyful, and sometimes stressful. Like a lot of new dads and mums out there, you and your partner are not going to know everything, and that’s okay. You can seek answers and help when and where you need to.
If you both get stuck into looking after your baby together, you can laugh about your mistakes together, high-five your wins together, and squeal at the poop that seems to be everywhere. This can be a wonderful time of shared joy and stress for you both. Being hands-on when taking care of your baby will ultimately bring you closer together.