One of the most important things to understand when becoming a new parent is that life does not continue as normal. While those saying this may have the best intentions, the truth is everything changes. Not only does the first week of your baby’s life start to feel like one continuous day blurring together, but you also find yourself navigating a completely foreign world.
From hospital visits to doctor appointments to conversations with lactation consultants, life is now about keeping this little human alive, fed, and comfortable. On top of the baby books you read and the preparation you did before your baby’s arrival, there is also the emotional toll of parenthood that no one can really prepare you for.
10 Baby Safety Tips New Parents May Overlook
As a first-time dad navigating life with a newborn, you may be realizing that there is a lot to this fatherhood thing that nobody told you about. So, here are 10 things that no one tells first-time dads about newborns.
10 Skin-To-Skin Is Important For You Too
Skin-skin contact is something most mothers experience immediately after giving birth. Their baby is placed on their chest and much of the rubbing and cleaning happens while that initial bond is taking place. However, skin-to-skin contact is just as important for fathers as well. Especially since dads don’t breastfeed, setting intentional times throughout the day to have that contact with your newborn is imperative.
Dads also have the same ability as moms to help regulate their baby’s temperature and heart rate. According to Nuroo Baby, When a dad sits with their baby skin-to-skin, oxytocin, the natural ‘feel-good’ hormone, is released. This can help dads feel more confident as a father and more protective of their babies.
9 Talk & Sing To Your Baby
According to Extension, important brain development occurs when you talk and sing to your baby. Although your newborn baby can’t say words yet or speak in clear sentences, they can actually still learn and understand the words that are spoken to them. Talking sweetly to them or singing in a joyful voice from birth can actually help your baby build a strong vocabulary.
8 Get Involved In Play Time
It may be a common misconception that playtime is more enjoyable for older babies, but that’s not the case. Newborns can enjoy playtime just as much. As a new dad, try to play with your newborn every single day. It’s okay if you and your partner have different approaches or styles of play.
What’s important is that your baby will love playing with both of you. This not only improves your bond and allows you to share some of your silliness and passion with your baby, but it also creates amazing memories that you can look back on in the years to come.
7 Get Used To Baby Wearing
Baby-wearing may sound daunting at first. There are a lot of straps, and you don’t want them to be too tight or too loose for your baby. However, once you do a little research and understand best practices, baby-wearing can feel like a lifesaver.
Whether you want to go on a leisurely stroll through a park or get some chores done around the house, keeping your newborn close to you will make those daily tasks feel far more manageable. According to Healthline,
Newborn babies can be worn right away provided there are no medical concerns and the baby weighs around 8 pounds or more.
A stretchy wrap may also be more comfortable in this early stage of fatherhood. The biggest safety concern with baby wearing is suffocation since newborns don’t have much head or neck control yet. However, if you follow these baby safety tips, there should be nothing to worry about.
6 Read To Your Newborn
Reading is another way of communicating with your baby that is integral to their development. Not only does it designate downtime to bond and snuggle with your newborn, but it also can be quite nostalgic.
It can be extremely fun and rewarding for fathers to pick out their favorite stories and baby books from their childhood and read them to their newborns. The books can also be in various languages and babies will pick up on the words being spoken to them.
5 Practice Communicating With Your Baby
Although your newborn can’t talk yet, they can still make noises. As a new father, practice mirroring your baby’s sounds and movements. This establishes basic communication with your baby from the start. If they coo or vocalize any sound, repeat it back to them.
If they smile, match that emotion to them. The same goes for hand movements as well. This is great for developing your newborn’s sense of self-awareness. Another option is giving your newborn time for mirror play.
4 Take Over Some Feedings
Since mothers are the ones who produce milk for their babies, it can be easy to let them fall into the role of feeding and take a back seat as a father. If the baby’s mother chooses to exclusively breastfeed, taking over feedings can be difficult in the newborn phase.
However, if the mother pumps or the parents opt for formula, there are many opportunities for the dad to take over with some feedings. If new fathers can take over some of those nighttime feedings, it won’t just improve bonding with their little one, but it will also give the mom some time to sleep and rest, which is essential in those early days.
3 Talk About Your Postpartum Feelings As Well
Another aspect of fatherhood that is commonly overlooked in our society is the postpartum health of new dads. Due to the physical aspect of labor and the massive hormonal changes that pregnancy and breastfeeding can cause, much of the focus of postpartum life is on the mother.
However, the emotional well-being of fathers is extremely important as well. As a father of a newborn, it’s important to know that talking about anxiety and depression is healthy and normal. There are many resources available that provide help during this transitional time in life.
2 Learn To Swaddle
As a new dad, your baby’s swaddle will quickly become your best friend. Usually, newborns are swaddled in the hospital, shortly after birth. According to Intermountain Healthcare, swaddling helps to protect your baby from natural startle reflex.
This usually means better sleep for the baby and their parents. If your newborn has colic, which is frequent, prolonged, intense crying from a healthy infant, swaddling may help eliminate some of their anxiety and guide them in self-soothing.
1 You Will Lose Sleep
As a new dad, it might be easy to think that your sleep patterns won’t change too much. If the baby’s mom is cluster feeding or taking most of the nightly feedings, fathers might think they’ll get a few good hours in before getting woken up by their newborn.
Unfortunately, this is rarely the case with new dads. You will likely find yourself waking up every fifteen minutes to check on your newborn, make sure they are breathing, cry by their crib, and just admire their beauty. The newborn stage is an emotional rollercoaster, and you will be surprised at how you can function with such little sleep.
Sources: Greater Good, Nuroo Baby, Extension, Healthline, Mama Natural, Baby Sparks, Postpartum, Intermountain Healthcare