Coming home from the hospital and the first few months of baby’s life can be some of the most memorable—and stressful—moments of the parents’ lives. Fathers often get lost and forgotten in this shuffle and rightfully so; after all, the focus should be on the health of the newborn and the mother’s recovery.
Regardless, it can be an uncertain time for new dads, especially when the new baby is a couple’s first and the newness of every moment brings its own challenges. New fathers struggling with these moments of anxiety and overwhelm should focus on the following four ‘new dad tips’ to provide the most support and comfort to the mother as the family transitions back home.
Silence is Golden
The first helpful hint for new fathers is that silence is golden. Bringing a baby home comes with innumerable new stressors, and the collective nerves of mommy, daddy, and the new baby are all frayed and fragile. Sleep deprivation is inevitable in the first several weeks and months, so it is imperative for fathers to maintain their composure as best as possible. It is common for new parents to experience a few rough patches in their relationship as they work a crying, needy, drooling new addition into their routines; a father can do well to bite his tongue as needed and try not to contribute any additional stress during the transition. There will be plenty of tense moments and the best thing a father can do is to provide steady and unwavering support.
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The next thing a father can do to support his new family is to be helpful. While this sounds absolutely obvious, new fathers need to be as proactive as possible in assisting the mothers. What tasks did mom have around the house that the new dad can now adopt in the short-term? Perhaps mom was responsible for paying certain bills that the new father can watch over for a few months?
New fathers need to be on the lookout for miscellaneous items around the house where they can pitch in, including the more regular housework like laundry, dishes, and cleaning. New mothers often feel subconscious pressure to not only take care of a new child, but also to maintain the household and any previous responsibilities; whether it’s work or chores, new moms often feel the need to do it all. New fathers jumping in without prompted can help alleviate some of the strain the mothers may be feeling.
Give Mom Time Off
Different families and different parents require varying needs during the first few months following a child’s birth. However, nearly all mothers will benefit from a few scheduled rests from motherhood. It might only take an hour or an afternoon, but allowing a new mom a block of time to shower, sleep, or relax without the baby can be immensely beneficial. It is not always enough to simply ‘be around’ to help; these breaks work best when the time is scheduled as an appointment (i.e. from 2:00 – 4:00). This technique functions even better when the father can take the child out of the house so mom will not be hearing any errant cries.
Scheduling some alone time for mom is an excellent idea but it might also be worth considering scheduling some time as a couple within the first few months of parenthood. If dad can wrangle a grandma or aunt into babysitting for a quick spell, those few hours when mom and dad are alone together can prove invaluable in maintaining both connection and sanity for new parents.
Never Forget Your Own Role in Parenthood
One final suggestion for new dads: while supporting mom and baby is vitally important in the first few months, never forget your own role in parenthood! Often lost in the deferment to new moms (and again, rightfully so), new fathers need to focus on their own connections to the new family addition. Healthy new babies also require developing a nurtured relationship with fathers. New dads can achieve this by setting aside one-on-one time, making time for skin-to-skin contact, and consistently holding the new child while making eye contact. While dads often get lost in the shuffle of a new baby, it is imperative to recognize the development benefits of fostering a proper father-baby connection.
Newborns offer a whirlwind of excitement and challenge for any family. The first few months of a new baby’s life passes in a blur and it’s difficult for new fathers to find their footing in such an environment. If new dads want to be successful in the transition, they need to focus on making mom’s life as easy as possible while also taking some time to connect with their new child (sometimes it helps to have a little extra motivation). Having a plan to meet these goals will ensure new dads handle the evolution of their family with ease.
Got any other tips or tricks to make life with a newborn easier as a new dad? Leave a comment below!