Part 3 of the Helpful Dads series is perhaps the most fun, yet also the most tiring! A new baby in the house means everyone is giving up some sleep and it is an adjustment. Give your family and household a month to get into the “new normal” life with a baby. Life has definitely become an adventure! Here are some tips to help you be a helpful, happy Dad and also help you bond with your new baby. They will also help Mom to be healthy and happy too!
10 Ways To Help With A Newborn
- HELP WITH HOUSEWORK: Better yet, do the housework for the first few weeks, at least, so that Mom can heal and focus on taking care of the baby and herself. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just do your best to keep things tidied up, run the vacuum, keep the dishes clean and the kitchen picked up, and do a quick bathroom spot clean every few days. Doing a load of laundry every other day will prevent it from piling up. You may not be someone who has regularly done housework, but perfection is not required. Remember the mantra “housework done incorrectly still blesses your family” Mom will be grateful!
- HELP WITH FEEDING BABY: If the baby is formula feeding, this is easy. Definitely take a turn during the night, if possible. However, if Mom is breastfeeding, you can help her get the baby latched, if necessary. Sometimes three hands are needed! If Mom pumps breast milk for the baby, you can also take a turn feeding.
- HELP MOM REST: Provide her with the time for an extra nap. This is important soon after she delivers so she can recuperate. Let her take that long, uninterrupted shower or just some time to herself.
- HELP MOM TO EAT HEALTHY: The best way to do this is to help out with the cooking. You don’t have to be a chef. Simple, healthy meals are the best right now. Fruits and veggies, lean meats, and healthy grains. Mom needs plenty of fluids also, especially if she is breastfeeding. Keep it simple and as easy as possible.
- DO THE SHOPPING: Quick trips out for groceries and supplies is so helpful. Mom can make a list to help you stay organized and minimize extra running. If grocery shopping isn’t something you usually do, keep it simple. Perhaps fewer items and more trips will work better if you are close to a store.
- HELP WITH BABY CARE: Help with every part of baby’s care, bathing, diapering, and feeding. Just as important is helping soothe a fussy baby by holding, rocking, and talking to them. Sometimes they just need to feel secure and held. Dad’s arms are great for this!
- PLAY WITH BABY: Spending time with your baby is so important for both of you. Use a baby sling or stroller to take him/her outside for walks, weather permitting. They will experience new sights and fresh air makes a sleepy baby. This allows Mom to nap also! Maybe you need a nap too! Play with your baby by singing and talking to them. Give baby “tummy time” on a blanket on the floor. This helps them strengthen their neck muscles.
- READ TO YOUR BABY: Start now! It is never too early to start raising a lifetime reader. There are numerous benefits to reading to children, such as improving cognitive development, boosting memory, increasing vocabulary, and enhancing their focus. This is a great bonding time also.
- SKIN TO SKIN WITH BABY: Dads can do skin to skin time with baby too! This is also known as kangaroo care. This helps build your bond with your baby, while comforting and quieting him/her. They feel so warm and protected. This helps them to build trust in their environment and be quieter babies.
- TAKE CARE OF YOU: The best way to be available and helpful to your family is to take care of yourself also! Do this by getting enough rest, eating a healthy diet, and getting some daily exercise. You don’t need to spend hours at the gym. A daily walk with baby or Mom will do. Exercise is also a great stress reliever. This is a stressful time for you as well, with a new role and new responsibilities. Be aware there is a condition called Paternal Postnatal Depression that some fathers experience. It is a real thing. Symptoms are feeling down, irritable, exhausted, or overwhelmed. Taking care of yourself helps prevent this. You may find yourself feeling neglected or unimportant. These feelings are natural, but just know that you and your role are very important. You are the glue right now that will hold your family together!
Enjoy this exciting time of your life and experience all the new feelings that go along with being a Dad. Before you know it, life will settle into what you think of as “life before baby” and “life after baby”, but, regardless, life will never be the same, and you wouldn’t have it any other way!
Other posts in this series:
Take advantage of these additional resources available to you:
Strong Families Program
Courageous Dads Program
Lisa Zartman RN, RNC-MNN
Call 717-394-1561 to schedule an appointment today.
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