Tips For New Dads
The arrival of a new addition to the family is an emotional moment for dads who are sometimes erroneously assumed not to have a natural bond with babies. Although it is true that mothers often leverage on the natural bond intensified by nursing and constant time spent with the tot, however, new fathers do not have to be the ones incubating the fetus or birthing it before they can form a bond with their little ones. A bond can easily be formed in little to no time.
If you are a new dad, do not relegate yourself to watching your wife and child bond from the sidelines while you feel abandoned and left out. Make the most of that paternity leave and build a strong father-child bond as natural as the one mommy gets courtesy of her anatomy. Not too sure how to handle that cute little bundle of joy that just popped out with lungs filled with screams loud enough to wake up the entire neighborhood? Read on for ten tips to help you scale daddy duty like a pro.
1. You Are The Father
Don’t be one of those men who pass off the little one to the mother, only spending time with the baby when mom has errands to run. You are not a babysitter or an assistant to mommy; you are the father. That being said, you have a title and responsibility to live up to. Spend one-on-one time with your child. Roll up your sleeves and give that baby a bottle or pacifier. Change diapers when needed and make bath time fun. Pull out the rubber ducks and watch your baby squeal in delight. Babies form bonds with familiar faces. With you are getting enough facetime, bonding with baby is only natural. Make sure you check out our guide to the best gifts for new dads and find some “starter kits” to help you along the way.
Remember how much you enjoy cuddling and spooning with wifey? Whether you are the big spoon or the little one, the intimacy, connection, and security you feel during a good cuddling session is mind-blowing. Now, if your grown self enjoys it that much, imagine how the baby feels. For babies, cuddling is more than a matter of if you can make time for it. Those little guys literally thrive on it. For infants, cuddling fosters a feeling of trust, safety, and familiarity. Their mental development is aided by being held close, rocked and sang to. There is no bonding style more natural than cuddling.
Communicate? Are you serious? The little fella can’t even talk. Now that is exactly the kind of attitude that makes many men miss natural bonding opportunities. Drop the macho attitude and do some baby talk. The little one is actually listening to you and loving it too. Communicate at every chance. That includes when changing diapers, taking baths or even when taking a dump. You can start reading children stories even to infants a few months old. You will observe your child paying attention and relishing the sound of daddy’s voice. Remember that old nursery rhyme your mom sang to you as a child. Guess what? Your baby will love it too.
4. Baby’s Day Out
Remember how much you used to love going out with your dad? Well, guess what? Your baby does too. Those little tykes are a lot smarter than you give them credit for. Going on walks to the park, to the mall or to your buddy’s place gives your child a natural environment for mental stimulation. Absorbing all the sights and sounds out there aides in brain development for children. Not to mention kids are a lot easier to haul around when smaller as all it takes to keep them pleased is a warm bottle of milk and a fresh diaper. Don’t wait until the terrible twos to have a day on the town with the baby. So put on those dad shoes and hit the road!
5. Be Nice To Mommy
Although your wife’s body comes equipped with two food tanks and the baby always seems to gravitate towards her, remember she is probably as new to this as you are. Forcing out a living, breathing human the size of a small sack of potatoes out of her nether regions only to have a tiny human screaming for nourishment attached to her chest is a traumatic experience for a woman. Some women are naturals at the baby business while others are like a fish out of water. Whichever kind of woman your wife is, she needs your support and understanding through this experience until her hormones stabilize, and she also gets the hang of things. Hold off on your comments about how your mother birthed quadruplets in the barn without medical support. She doesn’t need such commentary while trying to heal up.
6. Be A Man Of Your Word
As your child grows and you spend more and more time together, it is only natural that a bond has been formed and your child is more attached. That means you must keep your promises. Young children have not quite mastered understanding disappointment which means something as seemingly little as you not returning from work at the usual time is enough to throw them off kilter. That ice cream date you promised as a Saturday evening treat? Those little minds do not forget. Frequently broken promises lead to mistrust towards you on the part of your little one. Unforeseen circumstances come up? Carry your tot along. Make it a little ‘secret’ between the two of you. Also, check out these 20 father son activities for some ideas.
As cute as your little bundle of joy is, the truth is they need a lot of attention and they will wear you out over time. They could even strain your relationship with mommy if you don’t watch it. Don’t fall into the trap of playing Super Dad trying to do it all. There are no awards given for constantly playing a superhero. Make time out for date night with mommy and get a nanny to watch the baby. Have grandparents nearby? Let them help out. You know how much Grams and Gramps enjoy spending quality time with their grandbabies. As the kids themselves grow older, teach them to be independent. Start small by showing them how to put their toys away after playtime.
8. Do Not Over Buy
Prepare to be bombarded with advertisers and well-meaning friends alike cajoling you to buy designer baby clothing, the latest pram that can supposedly make babies fly, or even a pacifier with fancy lighting to keep baby occupied. The truth is babies practically grow in seconds. In no time, your child would have outgrown the fancy clothes, and you have not even finished paying the credit card debt incurred. Spend smart and don’t be shy to take the hand me downs friends offer. They are probably good as new anyway. Besides, the baby can’t even tell the difference between designer clothing or toys and the store brand.
9. Remember The World Still Exists
It is easy to get sucked into a world of baby soft cuddling, wiping spilled bodily fluids and singing nursery rhymes that you end up in a little cocoon forgetting the world still exists. And as much as baby needs you, your friends, family and work buddies miss you too. Do not be that friend that forgets everyone because you had a baby. Or even worse, the one who can’t quit gushing about baby’s latest exploits and how you artfully dodged a flying turd during happy hour. Although it is natural to be a proud parent and you are understandably excited about daddyhood, hearing about Junior for the umpteenth time within thirty minutes is overdoing things.
10. Wear Your Daddy Pants
Babies have an uncanny way of knowing just how to push your buttons to get what they want. Some display these psychological skills as early as two years old. Your normally angelic baby could decide to start screaming up a storm at the checkout counter when grocery shopping to get some M&Ms. Baby is trying to embarrass you to buying candies when you already said he or she couldn’t have any. Now you could join issues with a child and start a screaming match for supremacy, or you can be the adult and take charge of the situation. Babies don’t look particularly cute throwing tantrums, their tiny faces contorted. You’ll look even worse shrieking like a banshee in public. Do not give in to baby’s demands, rather, just to keep the peace. You are the parent, not the friend.