There is a strong link between the amount of a father’s involvement and children who:
- are better problem solvers.
- have more initiative and communicate more effectively.
- are more likely to have success in school and career.
- get along better with siblings and peers.
- are less likely to become involved in harmful behaviours such as substance abuse or criminal activity.
Like some new mothers, some new fathers do not feel an instant love for the new baby. If you feel that way, you’re not alone. Most new fathers go through a period of adjustment.
The following are suggestions to help you learn your own style of fathering.
Take care of your health
Taking care of your partner and your baby takes strength and energy. Eat well and stay active.
Support and respect your partner
This is a time of change for you and your partner. Your baby will not sleep through the night for several months. As well, a new baby nearly doubles the amount of housework to be done. At this time of change you’ll need to talk to each other about sharing responsibilities and about how you feel.
Talk about your feelings
Being a father takes time. If you’re feeling tired, lonely or worried or left out, tell your partner how you feel. Pick a time when the baby is sleeping. Don’t be surprised to find that she feels the same way. Talk about what’s bothering you. Listen to what’s bothering her. Once you your feelings are out in the open, you can begin working things out together.
Here are some ways to be involved right from the start:
- Snuggle skin-to-skin with your baby.
- Burp your baby and change his/her diapers.
- Give your baby a bath.
- Play with your baby – smile, sing and read.
- Take her for a walk.
Accept that nobody’s perfect.
You’ll make mistakes—lots of them; so will your partner. Everybody does. Don’t worry—trial and error is how you learn to be a parent. Never be afraid to ask for help.
Face the fact that life will be different from now on.
Getting used to so many changes can be difficult and exhausting. Right now, it’s easy to get bogged down in the inconveniences of a new baby. Your new life as a father will also hold joy, satisfaction, and a deep sense of purpose and pride. So relax and grow into your new life. It’s true that life will be different. But so will you.
Learn about how your baby will grow and develop so you will know what to expect.
All parents need to learn about how a child grows and develops in order to be a responsive parent. You may be surprised at how much you already know about your baby.
Newborn babies may sometimes seem to prefer being with their moms. This is a natural first stage of attachment. During this stage, a dad’s regular involvement in baby care is still important and will help foster a warm loving relationship.
Sometimes dads feel like they don’t know what to do, especially around new babies. All new parents need time to get to know their baby. A mother’s support for dad’s involvement is important and she can encourage dad to participate.
Services related to this information:
Public Health Nursing offices, Eastern Health
811 HealthLine (Newfoundland & Labrador) – Call 811 or 1-888-709-2929 / TTY 1-888-709-3555