There is joy when a new child comes into your life. There is also a lot of pain and adjusting. First time fathers, or new dads, are now required to adjust their lifestyle around a smelly, loud, lump of meat that clearly doesn’t know what it wants. In time, this lump of meat will develop a definite consciousness – but until then you will need to maintain your cool and do everything possible ensure your child gets there. One thing you can start on right away is baby proofing your windows.
Practical Parents in Training has provided 7 key tips to help new dads get through those first few tough months.
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Table of Contents
Tip 1: Change Their Diaper When You’re Home
This tip is good not just for the baby, but for you. The mother of the child will be in loads of pain and recovering from the birthing process (C-section, vaginal birth, they all suck). In addition to this – breastfeeding (while certainly looks like no effort is put forward) is very stressful and makes recovery more difficult. It is important as a father to help out as much as possible.
Women have reported that one of the most helpful things a father can do is help with diapers. Studies have shown that there are long term benefits for relationships between the father/child and the father/mother.
Think of it as your first major task as a father – to learn how to efficiently and effectively change soiled diapers while handling the smell and the hand work needed for a quick change. I almost gamified it by seeing just how fast I could change my child while maintaining cleanliness.
Also, if you haven’t already – get yourself a diaper pail. Unless, you’re in the mood to have a stinky household or want to jump outside every few hours to drop off the soiled diaper. Trust me when I say that the diaper pail was a purchase I didn’t regret.
When conversing or playing with your infant, be sure to make eye contact. There are studies that suggest children pay most attention to the human face – and enjoy eye contact. Keep in mind that the vision of newborns is pretty bad (some say they mostly see in shades of grey and shadows). So, be sure to be nice and close, around 12 inches, in order to be seen by your child. This will be especially useful for the authoritarian style of parenting.
Tip 3: Talk Out Loud Your Actions
Children are quick to pick up auditory cues. Not only is it good for children to recognize the voice of their caretakers, but it is good to know that certain sounds are associated with specific simulations. Their brains are still developing, but it doesn’t take long for them to begin associate certain sounds together.
Often, we new dads will zone out as we’re doing things with the baby such as placing them into the car seat, giving them a bottle, carrying them, or changing them (as indicated in tip #1). Be sure to verbalize what you’re doing as you perform tasks so that way your child creates associations.
Tip 4: Establish A Bedtime Routine
Teaching your child to sleep is one of the most difficult things to do. It may seem that children sleep at random hours and their behavior is unpredictable, but actually you can teach your children to sleep through the night.
We discovered Baby Sleep Miracle and got put on the right path to get our children to sleep through the night. You can find that link here: Baby Sleep Miracle.
For the tip however, the first step to teaching your child to sleep is to establish a bedtime routine. This means setting up specific things that are done at specific times at night in order to help create associations with sleeping. For example, you can play a tickle game, then you can wash your child, then read stories for 15 minutes while dimming the lights, and then you put them to bed. This same tip is offered as advice when homeschooling kids while working from home.
Being consistent about this every night helps create the proper foundation for good sleep.
Tip 5: Learn to Swaddle Your Baby
It is important to learn to swaddle well since it helps prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) but it also helps simulate the constraints of the womb. Many children instantly will feel comfortable after a good swaddle has been placed.
See this photo below for how to swaddle your child.
Tip 6: Follow a Process of Elimination Method For Crying
I initially thought that I would grow frustrated at my children for her constant crying. It turns out, I sort of did. But then, I learned to instead treat it as a problem that just needed troubleshooting.
Children cry for a reason, and so it becomes a process of elimination to determine what exactly is making them cry. For example, if after 4-5 minutes of my child crying in my arms, I might try to look at the diaper. If it isn’t the diaper, maybe I’ll then see if my child wants to eat. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll look to a good swaddle. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll try walking her up and down the stairs. If that doesn’t work, then I might try changing their clothes. And so on, and so forth.
The idea here is that you should consider a list of things your child COULD be crying about, and work on a process of elimination to help calm them down. With enough time, you’ll actually be able to tell, from the type of crying, exactly why they’re unhappy.
Tip 7: Take Your Time to Get Intimate Again
Some partners recover from the birthing process faster than others, but you’ll need to face that you’ll be on a dry spell for a bit before being able to be intimate with your partner again. Take your time here, and don’t demand anything of your partner if they’re not ready.
Instead, consider just being romantic with your partner, let them know that you care for their well-being and that you’ll be there for the tough times. Reassure them, and in time, you’ll be back to being intimate again.
Bonus Tip #1: You Won’t be the Favorite Parent for a While
The fact is, babies and mothers are biologically linked in a way that fathers are not. This means that by default, the mother will be the main “go-to” for the child for a long while. It isn’t until much later in life will that child warm up fully the father (and that’s assuming that you follow the above tips and maintain as much paternal closeness as possible). So, dig in for the long haul and know that what you’re doing now won’t be appreciated for many years – but the journey of parenthood is ultimately worth it (we believe).
Bonus Tip #2: Consider Picking up Gifts To Suit Her Needs
Not all mothers are under the exact same stresses as another mother. So take a little time to identify some of the unique pain points your partner is going through and consider picking up purchases that might help solve those things.
Bonus Tip #3: Begin childproofing and babyproofing your house
Children are curious creatures and it won’t be long before your son/daughter begins exploring their surrounding by touching everything. It’s important to have all your bases covered in regards to childproofing. Practical Parents in Training have found that some of the most commonly missed areas in terms of safety are babyproofing your windows and childproofing your cabinets/drawers.
Hopefully these tips will help you get on your way to becoming the best dad you can be. If you enjoy these tips – consider reading our 7 tips for modern parents article which details some additional things you can do to ensure you’re as best a parent you can be.
Hello! We are the Newtons. James and Kelly Newton to be in fact. We set out to help modern parents learn the most up-to-date methods for helping to raise their kids in a tough new world. We hope our words might shed a little light on this enigma called "how to be a modern parent."