Being a first time dad is an exciting new stage in your life! Your family has a brand new addition in the form of a bundle of pure joy and happiness. Welcome to parenthood! Infants are adorable, they smell divine, and the love you have for them is unparalleled. That is not to say that new parenthood or fatherhood does not come with its fair share of responsibilities and expectations.
The arrival of a new baby is a thrilling time for any family. While it brings along a lot of added responsibility, it is a joyous time for everyone. However, new parents can find themselves easily overwhelmed. We know it, you know it, and every parent out there does, too. Often, parents find themselves in the deep end of the pool, which can be frightening. But, like every stage in life, this one too is a learning curve.
It goes without saying that mothers have it hardest of all. Dedicating every single minute of the day to their new baby, mothers carry the heaviest load in parenting. This holds especially true in the first few months following childbirth. Neither you nor your partner will know everything (in fact, anything) from the get-go.
This one is for the first time dads! We know how overwhelmed you are and we cannot wait to share some incredible tips, advice and dos and don’ts with you. That feeling of being completely clueless? Yeah, we are quite familiar with it. Worry not, the experts are here to help.
How First Time Dads Can Support Their Partner
We have all been in a position where our partner expects certain things of us but we are completely clueless. The fact is, mothers have different instincts and most of what they perceive to be obvious flies way over our heads. Communication is important, mamas! Be sure to let your partner know what you need. While this holds true at every point in life, it is way more necessary as a first time parent. Remember, both of you are figuring things out for the first time.
For the most part, mamas don’t ask for help because they feel like they must shoulder all the responsibility. That is not true and also not fair. It’s not fair to you, mama! Regardless, these tips are for clueless first time dads. You should know what to do without exactly being asked. You can start with:
- Take care of mealtimes: Not everyone can cook and that is fine. But, everyone needs to eat. Mothers usually neglect themselves to care for their babies. This means they will forget to look after themselves including missing meals. Whether or not your partner is breastfeeding, they still have to eat to maintain their health, spirits and energy. If you cannot prepare meals or cook dinner, make sure to be mindful of mealtimes regardless. Order takeout, stock the pantry with healthy snacks, just make sure mama has a constant source of nutrition.
- Compliment her: It is important to let your partner know that you think they are doing a great job. We can all get too caught up with the world around us that we often forget to give credit where it is due. Let mama know that she is doing a great job. Let her know how much she is loved. Tell her she looks radiant. You never know how a simple compliment can brighten up her whole day.
- Be there, be present: More often than not, mothers experience painful and difficult births. This leaves them with a lot of emotional trauma. Do not let her deal with it alone. Unpack labor and birth together. Be there for her. Be present. Listen to her. It can be a very therapeutic experience for both of you.
- Pamper her: As we said before, mothers often neglect themselves and prioritize their babies above all. They are too busy giving their babies all the love to spare any for themselves. This is where you come in. Get her flowers. Take her for a massage. Plan a home spa day. Run her a relaxing bath. Make her feel seen and loved. Give her love in abundance!
- Get her gifts: It is not uncommon for relationships to fizzle out after the addition of a baby. Both parents become too occupied with their baby to focus on their own relationship. One of the most common trends is that gifts slowly slip out of their lives. A common misconception is that gifts need to be expensive and extravagant. That is not true. Anything that reminds you of her or you think she would like can be a gift. Whether it’s her favorite cookies from the cafe on your way to work or that cute pair of jeans you saw her eyeing since forever. Small gifts are still gifts. And they are a wonderful gesture to show your partner that you are thinking of them.
- Don’t pressure her for sex: This one is self-explanatory. Intimacy is important, for sure. However, sex is not the only way to be intimate. Understand that mama has just been through childbirth and her body and mind need to heal.
How First Time Dads Can Be Present For Their Baby
Often, people use the term “help” when talking about a dad’s role in the house. Dads do not help. Dads are as much a part of the family as moms are. And just like moms look after their infants, dads should too. They are simply fulfilling their duties as a parent. Mamas are expected to know how to look after their infants, but the truth is no one really knows what they are doing as a first time parent. It is a learning curve and both parents learn along the way.
- Go for walks: Yes, take your baby out for walks. Not only is this a great bonding exercise, but it will also give mama some time to relax and unwind.
- Share feedings: It might appear as if feeding the baby is solely a mother’s job. It is not. Take turns with feedings. If your partner chooses to breastfeed, make sure you are there for support and any kind of assistance they need. Bring the baby to her so she can lie in.
- Learn baby basics: Knowing how to change a diaper or bathe your baby is important. It should never just be mama’s responsibility. If there are older children in the house, whether yours or from a previous marriage, tend to their needs so your partner does not feel overwhelmed.
- Spend time with your baby: Cuddles are extremely important for your baby’s development. While mama definitely gives the best cuddles ever, you should also contribute. Again, it is a great bonding experience and takes a lot off your partner’s plate, giving them time to care for themselves.
How First Time Dads Can Help Around The House
With most of your partner’s time dedicated to looking after the baby, it is normal that they won’t have just as much time to take care of the rest of the house. This is where you come in.
- Do the laundry: Trust us when we say, doing the laundry is just about the most annoying task on any mama’s checklist of chores. There will be so many baby clothes to wash and at times it might feel like the pile of laundry just never ends. Do the laundry. If you can afford to and if you have a busy schedule as well, hire some house help. Believe me, a new mama needs all the help she can get.
- Take care of visitors: There will be times when mama can absolutely not entertain guests. It is your job to step in and make sure uninvited or unwanted guests are taken care of. Whether it is entertaining them or rescheduling their visits, make sure you communicate with your partner about what both of you want. You will also need to make sure guests do not overstay their welcome.
- Tidy up: Let’s face it, your house will be a mess. Caring for a tiny human takes a lot of time and attention. The mess always starts small and then grows at a rapid pace. When you can, be sure to pick up toys, put baby accessories back in their place, and clean up after yourself and your partner. Again, you can always hire house help if it seems too much for you to handle. But, do not expect your partner to dedicate time to the baby as well as the house, especially during the first few months.
Best Tips & Advice For First Time Dads
- Being a first-time is a learning curve. Don’t be too hard on yourself and more importantly, do not be too hard on your partner. There will be ups and downs in this journey and that’s okay.
- Make sure that your partner has time for herself. A new mom has far too much to deal with and rarely ever has time to notice or care for herself. Roll up your sleeves and take on responsibility for the house, the baby and anything else that will reduce her list of chores.
- Take time out to listen to her. No, really listen. Make her feel heard. Sometimes you might feel like you want to “fix” her or things. It’s important to understand that just listening is enough. You do not need to give any advice or tell her how to do things. Just. Listen.
- You should acknowledge that things are not the same. It is unfair to you, your partner and your relationship to expect anything to stay the same. You and your partner have started a new phase in your life. Things will definitely be different from here on out. Embrace the change because only then will you be able to move forward.
- This one really goes without saying but sometimes we have to state the obvious! Don’t treat your partner like she’s one of the guys. She most definitely is not and doing so is not a way of appreciating her.
There is definitely a lot to figure out as a first time dad. And we’ll be honest, every baby brings along a new set of responsibilities. The moment you think you have it figured out, BAM NO YOU DON’T! But, this list should be more than enough to help you figure things out as a first time dad. Because let’s face it, first time parenting is the most challenging.
What are some tips and advice you would like to add? Let’s hear it from the dads!