Those first few days, weeks, months (ok years) of being a dad can feel like an amazing roller coaster ride. You've suddenly welcomed this tiny human into your life and now it's time to figure out how to actually take care of him or her!
In honor of Father's Day, we wanted to provide some important tips for all the new, and soon-to-be dads out there. So, take a deep breath, we're here to help.
1. Take time to bond with your baby - and don't worry if it doesn't feel instantaneous
For some dads, the minute they see their baby or hear that very first cry, they feel an immediate bond, for others that feeling comes later - like when baby comes home from the hospital, or gives that first little smile. There's no hard and fast rule for it.
Take time every day to spend with your baby, read books to them, sing songs or listen to music, snuggle, go for walks. Skin to skin time with your baby, and allowing them to smell you are also excellent ways to promote bonding. Studies have shown that these practices lower the heart rate and stress hormones in the baby, and create positive associations for you, dad!
All of those little moments really add up and allow you to deepen your connection.
2. Stock up on the essentials and forget the rest
With so many products on the market, it becomes overwhelming. What do you actually need?! Babies are not that complicated, so don't overdo it. Stock up on diapers (trust us, you will go through more diapers than you ever thought possible); butt paste (because, well, all the diapers!); a good swaddle (The Mookabee!) a baby stroller that fits your lifestyle (city vs suburbs, do you jog/ walk a lot or drive most places?); a comfortable baby carrier (see tip #4)
3. Don't be too hard on yourself and take a break when you need it
No one has it all figured out right away, or ever, so don't be too hard on yourself. There will be many moments when you'll feel like you can't get your baby to stop crying, or those little snaps on their onesie just seem impossible to close. Take a deep breath and remind yourself this too shall pass. The sleepless nights don't last forever, suddenly you're able to decode the cries, and those tiny clothes become easier to put on. But it's ok to ask for help. They say it takes a village to raise a child and it's the truth! So when your village offers to cook dinner, or come over and lend a hand, take them up on it. Everyone needs a break once in a while.
4. Learn how to baby wear
Trust us on this one. Wearing your baby is a game changer. It allows you to free up your hands for every day chores, while still spending time snuggling and comforting your baby. Baby wearing has many benefits beyond making your life easier. Studies show baby wearing can reduce crying and fussing, and may even help regulate baby’s heartbeat, temperature, and breathing patterns.
Baby wearing comes in different forms - wraps, slings and carriers. Be sure to follow the rules of safe baby wearing and discuss best practices with your pediatrician to determine which form is most suitable to you and your baby.
5. Check in with your partner
Transitioning to parenthood can be difficult for any relationship. It's easy to get swept up in your new baby - the chaos, the joy, and your different roles and responsibilities, so much so that you stop noticing the needs of your partner. The best thing you can do for your relationship during this time is to keep the lines of communication open. Talk about how you're feeling, listen to your partner's feelings and needs. Schedule time to focus on each other, even if that means 30 minutes at the end of the day to spend time together.
Becoming a dad is one of the most exciting times of your life, so embrace it and enjoy it - you got this!