While there are definitely plenty of parenting tips every new dad needs, finding them can be a challenge! The reason for this is there are hundreds and hundreds of articles out there giving parenting tips to new mums but don’t focus on the other half of the partnership.
So, to help you new or expecting dads out, we have collated some of the best parenting tips every new dad needs from mums and dads who have been where you are and gone through what you’re experiencing…
Parenting Tips Every New Dad Needs
Learn how to settle and put your baby to sleep
I am a big fan of Harvey Karp’s “Happiest Baby” method for getting a baby to relax and fall asleep. I followed the “5 S’s” for soothing babies and within minutes I could get Wolf to drift off. It’s all about recreating the environment of the womb. The 5 S’s are; swaddling, side or stomach position, shushing, swing and suck. Having that up my sleeve meant I could really support my wife between feeds. It was also an incredible bonding experience for Wolf and I.
From 2 months, set a sleep routine
You can start a baby on a sleep routine at about 2 months. You want your baby to have a set series of events before sleep. For example, here is the feed, here is the bath, here is the book and now it’s time for sleep. Babies thrive on routine. Humans are creatures of habit and if you give your baby sleep cues and sleep associations it will help lull your baby into sleep.
On sleep, know the safe sleep rules
Baby needs to sleep on their back. Keep the baby’s face and head uncovered. If you or your partner smoke, don’t smoke around the baby and never smoke where the baby sleeps. This includes vaping. Set a safe sleeping environment, night and day. The safest place for baby to sleep is in their own safe space, with a safe mattress, and safe bedding. It’s so tempting to fall asleep with your baby on your chest but this is incredibly dangerous. Baby should always be placed on their back to sleep, with their feet at the bottom of the bassinet or cot and a baby should sleep in their parent’s room.
Get Your Hands Dirty
Matt McKay, former Australian professional footballer and a co-founder and director at Freddy & Co.
When you finally see your child for the first time, it’s overwhelming in the best possible way, and you want to do everything you can to bond with them. I did a lot of skin on skin contact time with all three of my kids in the early days. It was a great way to enjoy some quality time with my kids, and it also helped me feel more confident as a father in those first few days.
Get your hands dirty
You can feel a little helpless in the beginning, so I learnt how to change nappies and bathe the kids right from the first day. I wanted to be able to help look after them and spend time with them, while also being as supportive as possible to my wife.
Learn new things
I went to mothers’ groups at the health clinic and to midwife appointments and checkups in the early days. I wanted to learn as much as I could so that I could help and understand what was going on and be a part of it all. Don’t just leave it to your partner to learn everything, get involved.
Connect with other parents
Other parents give a lot of great advice, and it’s also good to know you’re not alone. Talk to as many people as possible, not just other dads but mums too. I often have chats with parents at the park about the different stages of parenting.
Talk to your partner
Ask her what she needs and really listen. When you have a newborn, it’s important that you’re supporting your partner in any way possible. Let her know that you are here for her at all times. Bring her coffee in the morning, let her have some alone time whenever possible, and ensure she’s always got plenty of nutritious food around.
Take Time For Cuddles
Naomi Dorland, founder of Twinfo. Australia’s largest online community for parents of multiples.
If you are a new dad who has been blessed with twins or triplets, then there is a greater opportunity to get involved. Multiple babies mean multiple hands are needed. So it’s a case of all hands on deck! Remember though, you have been through a completely life-altering experience as well, and it is perfectly normal for you to feel emotional and overwhelmed as you try to adapt to a new family routine.
With multiple births, there are additional risks and possible complications. The birth may have occurred much earlier than planned, and it’s normal to feel anxiety around your babies needing to stay in NICU or SCN.
Thankfully with multiple babies, there is always a baby that needs a cuddle. Those first couple of months will pass in a blur of nappy changes and feeds, but take the time to hold them, cuddle them and enjoy them. Those little babies need their Dad as much as they need their Mum.
Bond With Baby
Rachel Preston Broughton, mother, blogger, and owner of Baby and Mumma Gifts
Dads play a very important role in the parenting of children of all ages, including newborns. Spending time with your newborn will help you bond with them. This is in addition to the very important role dads play in supporting new mothers in their recovery after birth and pregnancy and throughout the early parenting journey. Here are my top tips:
Before the baby is born:
1) Prepare for baby
There is a lot of preparation that needs to be done prior to the baby’s birth. Make lists of what needs to be prepared and purchased. Research the best prams, cots, breast pumps, and baby carriers, and go in-store and try them out. There is also a lot of shopping involved, with nappies, clothing, swaddles and blankets all needing to be purchased. It’s important for dads to be involved in researching, preparing and purchasing all of these items, as you will need to be familiar with using all of these things after the baby has arrived.
2) Read some parenting books, apps and blogs, as well as attend birth and parenting classes.
Parenting involves a whole new set of skills. It’s important to read up about how to take care of babies. You’ll need to learn about feeding the baby, milestones, safety, medical care, sleeping and education. A book, site or app like the famous “what to expect when you’re expecting” is a great place to start. The more you know about the practical tasks of parenting, the more you are able to do when the baby arrives.
3) Learn about and help out with breastfeeding and/or bottle-feeding
Research suggests that mothers who are supported by their partners in their breastfeeding journey are more likely to experience breastfeeding success. It’ll help you to read about things like latch and attachment, common issues with breastfeeding, cluster feeding, and breast care. If your partner experiences any of these issues, you’ll know what to do and where to go for help. You can also support your partner with practical things like getting food and water for the breastfeeding mother.
The Australian Breastfeeding Association has a great article about supporting a breastfeeding mother. If the baby is bottle feeding, learn how to sterilise the bottles, prepare the formula or expressed milk, and heat the bottle. This is something practical you can do and will help with bonding with the baby.
4) Talk about parenting styles and philosophies with your partner
Before your baby arrives, it’s helpful to decide with your partner what parenting style aligns best with your philosophies on parenting. Think about the way your parents raised you, and the way you see others around you raising their children. What would you like to do the same? What will you do differently? Do some research and reading before deciding about any parenting styles. This will be an ongoing discussion and you will need to make decisions as your baby reaches new milestones and you face new parenting challenges.
After baby arrives:
5) Skin to skin contact
Skin to skin contact between baby and dad is very important in bonding with baby and provides other benefits to both dad and baby. When you hold your baby skin to skin, you both receive a dose of oxytocin, also known as the hormone of love. This helps bonding from the very beginning. Skin to skin contact also assists with temperature regulation and reducing crying in the baby. This is absolutely a win-win for baby and dad.
6) Take baby outside for walks in the baby carrier or pram
Babies need a lot of sensory stimulation. They are learning about the world and every experience is new to them. Babies also enjoy the movement of walking, and it is one of the best ways to put a baby to sleep, especially if they are fussy or crying. Using a baby carrier is great as the closeness further promotes bonding between dad and baby and helps reduce crying in the baby.
7) Baby bath and massage
It can feel as though there isn’t a lot for dads to do in terms of practical baby care, especially if mum is breastfeeding. Bathing baby and doing baby massage is a great practical task for dads to do. Most babies love baths. It is also a great way to calm the baby down, and it also can become part of the baby’s nightly bedtime routine. Baby massage is also a great way to calm the baby. Baby massage provides a great opportunity for skin-to-skin contact, and it assists with baby sleep and reduces crying.
8) Read to baby
It may seem strange to read to a newborn baby, but it is very important from the beginning. Reading to babies from an early age is helpful with language development and is linked to increased literacy skills later in life. Babies quickly learn to love reading a book. You can also sing to the baby and tell stories to get many of the same benefits.
9) Split the load
Another big change in the early parenting years is the amount of extra housework that is involved. There is extra laundry, washing up, and tidying to do from the very beginning, and this only increases as the child gets older and creates more mess. It is important to share this load and ensure every family member contributes.
This includes the “mental load” involved in all the planning and preparation for all parenting and house-related tasks. Even if you are a working parent, it is important to contribute to the chores at the times when you are home, and not to expect your partner to have completed all the chores while you are at work. Parenting is a full-time job, and chores and housework should be completed together.
10) Attend appointments as much as possible
Both before and after the birth, there are regular appointments to check the baby and mother. Attending appointments will allow you to understand the milestones your baby is reaching, ways you can support your baby and your partner, as well as allow you the opportunity to ask questions about your baby and parenting.
11) Look for signs of postnatal depression and mood disorders and encourage your partner to get help. Also, look out for signs in yourself.
Up to a quarter of new mothers experience postnatal depression or other mood disorders. It is important for dads to help lookout for the signs and encourage the new mother to get help. Some symptoms include being withdrawn, experiencing panic and helplessness, anger, losing the ability to find joy in things that would usually make the person happy, and suicidal thoughts.
Postnatal depression can also occur in fathers. If you or your partner experience any symptoms of postnatal depression or mood disorders, see your GP, nurse or PANDA (https://www.panda.org.au/)
12) Split the sleep
One of the most challenging parts of early parenthood is sleep deprivation. Babies wake often during the night to feed, and sleep can be very interrupted and unpredictable, especially in the early months. Even older babies can still cause sleepless nights, and many parents know the difficulties associated with “sleep regressions”. It is important to ensure everyone in the family has the opportunity to sleep.
If your partner is up all night with the baby, care for the baby while they nap. Take turns settling the baby overnight or take turns having a nap during the day.
Be Open To Learning
Elizabeth – I’m a single mum, early childhood teacher, child care director and blogger at Teaching Brave
Show understanding for the huge physical ordeal your partner has had to go through – pre and post labour. Yes, you are a new dad now, just as she is a new mum but her body has just experienced something huge and sometimes very physically traumatic – her body will need to heal and she will also have to learn how to breastfeed – breasts can become sore and even infected. Show some compassion and care – ask what she needs, take care of other household chores and let her sleep sometimes!
There will be sleep deprivation
For both parents! You will need to take certain tasks in shifts, or take turns. Your partner will need to do night feeding and the baby will wake up frequently so be prepared for both of you to get up to bub – you might be able to start giving the baby some bottles of breast milk, or formula, depending on what he/she has been having. Just remember that waking up and feeding bub is not all on the mum.
Be open to learning!
There is so much to learn – from the correct way to change a nappy (especially hygiene wise for girls – wiping front to back to avoid any infections) to sterilising bottles, how to start baby on pureed solid foods and about sleep cycles. Be open to learning many new things, as well as learning from your partner as you go along. You’re in this parenting thing together!
They don’t stay this little very long so enjoy the journey! Take photos, share the joy with family and friends, be present, laugh together, kiss that newborn skin and get as many cuddles as you possibly can!
Never Sacrifice Time With Your Children For Work
Logan Young – All The Differences
Never sacrifice time with your children for work. I’ve learned this the hard way when my eldest son started distancing himself from me when he entered the 4th grade.
I would always tell him that I’m too busy or too tired from work to play or go with him somewhere. I’ve let my son down multiple times and prioritised my work more than him.
This has been one of my greatest regrets because now that he’s all grown up, the tables have turned.
Ask For Help If You Need It
Ken – author of iFlyDad where I share general parenting tips and blog about my journey through fatherhood.
Every child is different and every family is different. You may have other family members and friends around you having babies at a similar time – try not to compare milestones or physical qualities – enjoy your baby and this journey as a unique one.
Chores can wait
Chores will always be there and there will be some that are completely necessary such as making sure you have clean dishes to eat from and food in the fridge, but be kind to yourself and your new family – if you have to order takeaway, do it! Your baby’s needs now need to take priority, so the unnecessary chores can wait.
Ask for help if you need it
Parenting is an amazing journey but it can also be incredibly difficult. Don’t let pride get in the way – ask family or friends for real help if you think you need it – that might look like a homemade meal, someone to grab supplies from the store or someone to be there so you and your partner can get some sleep!
Take time for bonding
This one is probably the most important – bond with your new baby – hold them, look into their eyes, sing to them (no, you don’t have to know the words to nursery rhymes – sing AC/DC in soft tones if you want to!), touch their skin, get involved in the routine stuff and cuddle them lots – your baby actually needs you to.
Get Involved As Much As Possible
Robert Puharich, Founder of Teen Learner
My top tip for dads would be to get involved with their baby’s day-to-day activities as much as possible. Whether it’s changing diapers, getting a night feed, or laying skin to skin, it will build your bond with your child. The bond created in the newborn stage will only get stronger as they get older, it’s priceless. Enjoy every minute.
Early Morning Walks
Take your new baby at least 100 metres away from its Mum around dawn each morning.
Little babies struggle to settle if they can smell their mother’s breast milk, and new mums struggle to sleep if they can hear a grizzling baby.
So, after the baby’s early feed, grab the nappy bag and a play mat and walk to get a takeaway coffee in the park (or something) for a couple of hours before you leave for work.
The extra sleep your partner will get before you leave in the morning will do wonders for her emotional wellbeing, and the time you spend alone will also be good for you and your baby.
Parenting Tips Every New Dad Needs – The Conclusion
Taking time for cuddles, bonding with your baby and being open to both learning and asking for support are just some of the top parenting tips every new dad needs.
As you have read in the tips above, time is the topic that came up again and again.
Take the time to really connect with your baby, showering them in kisses and cuddles, as well as time for your partner to heal, and time for you to be your own person too.
Above all, enjoy the process. The time goes so quickly, and the lost sleep or pooped on clothes will all quickly become happy memories!
For more daddy tips, check this article!