Mindful Arts Therapy
What can Dad do when Baby Arrives?
Welcoming a new baby into the family is a joyous occasion, but it can also be a time of adjustment, especially for new fathers. It’s important for fathers to feel involved in the care and upbringing of their newborns, as this not only strengthens the bond between father and child, but also provides invaluable support for the mother.
Understanding the Importance of Father Involvement
Before we delve into the practical tips, it’s crucial to understand why father involvement is so important. Research has shown that children with involved fathers have better social, emotional, and cognitive development. They are more likely to do well in school, have healthy self-esteem, and exhibit empathy and pro-social behavior.
For the fathers themselves, being involved in their child’s life from the start can bring immense satisfaction and deepen their emotional connection with their child. It can also foster a stronger relationship with their partner, as parenting responsibilities are shared and mutual support is strengthened.
The Role of Fathers in the Early Days
In the early days after the baby’s arrival, fathers can play a crucial role in providing support to the mother, who may be recovering from childbirth and adjusting to the demands of breastfeeding. This can include practical tasks like changing diapers, bathing the baby, and preparing meals, as well as emotional support and companionship.
It’s also a time for fathers to start bonding with their baby. This can be done through skin-to-skin contact, talking to the baby, and participating in feeding (if the baby is bottle-fed or when the mother starts pumping).
Practical Tips for Father Involvement
Now that we’ve established the importance of father involvement and the role fathers can play in the early days, let’s move on to some practical tips that can help fathers become more involved when their baby arrives.
Attend Prenatal Classes
One of the best ways for fathers to prepare for their new role is to attend prenatal classes. These classes not only provide valuable information about childbirth and baby care, but also give fathers an opportunity to ask questions and address any concerns they may have.
Attending these classes together with their partner can also strengthen the couple’s relationship, as they learn together and prepare for the arrival of their baby.
Participate in Baby Care
Once the baby arrives, fathers can take an active role in baby care. This includes changing diapers, bathing the baby, dressing the baby, and putting the baby to sleep. These tasks not only provide practical help to the mother, but also give fathers an opportunity to bond with their baby.
Even if the mother is breastfeeding, fathers can still be involved in feeding by bringing the baby to the mother for feedings, burping the baby after feedings, and eventually helping with bottle feedings if the mother chooses to pump.
Be a Part of Bedtime Routine
Establishing a bedtime routine is important for babies, and fathers can play a key role in this. They can participate in activities like reading bedtime stories, singing lullabies, and rocking the baby to sleep. This not only helps the baby establish good sleep habits, but also provides a special bonding time for father and baby.
Being a part of the bedtime routine also gives the mother a chance to rest and have some time for herself, which is important for her well-being.
Emotional Support and Bonding
Aside from the practical aspects of baby care, fathers can also provide emotional support and develop a strong bond with their baby.
Provide Emotional Support to the Mother
The arrival of a new baby can be an emotional time for the mother, with hormonal changes and the demands of baby care often leading to feelings of exhaustion and overwhelm. Fathers can provide emotional support by listening to the mother’s concerns, providing reassurance, and offering a helping hand whenever needed.
It’s also important for fathers to take care of their own emotional well-being, as this can affect their ability to provide support to their partner and baby.
Bond with the Baby
Bonding with the baby is one of the most rewarding aspects of fatherhood. This can be done through skin-to-skin contact, talking to the baby, playing with the baby, and simply spending time together.
Research has shown that babies recognize their father’s voice from birth, so talking to the baby can be a powerful bonding tool. Fathers can also bond with their baby through play, which not only strengthens their relationship but also supports the baby’s development.
Use Art and Mindfulness
And dads if you are feeling overwhelmed, sit down and ‘art’ it out! Grab a pen or some markers and draw out your feelings. Create an image of yourself in relation to your new baby and your partner. Take your time, take some deep breaths and remember that your baby will be quickly grown, so it is important to value every moment – even those wakeful nights.
Being an involved father is one of the most rewarding roles a man can have. It not only strengthens the bond with their child and supports the mother, but also contributes to the overall well-being and development of the child. By following the tips outlined in this guide, fathers can ensure they are fully involved in their baby’s life from the moment they arrive.