Often times new dads wonder what their role is those first couple of months at home with a newborn. Even if mom is exclusively nursing, there are plenty of ways that dad can bond with baby, help mom with her recovery, and play a key role in the adjustment phase during those first six weeks at home with a newborn.
Each couple will find a rhythm and process that works best for them, but here are some easy tips to get you started.
New Dad Tips for the First Six Weeks at Home with a Newborn
*Special Note: This list was made with dads in mind. However, many of these of ideas can work for anyone who is there to help mom during those first weeks at home like a grandmother, aunt, sister, or friend.
Even if mom is exclusively breastfeeding in those first few weeks, dad can still provide support to mom and participate in baby’s care.
1. Change baby’s diaper before and/or after feeds. While mom is getting ready to feed or finishing up a feed, dad can check baby’s diaper and change it if necessary.
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2. Pick up baby when it is time to feed and give her to mom. Sharing lifting responsibilities from the bassinet or crib to the rocker and back to the crib can help to prevent back pain and also help with mom’s recovery from childbirth.
3. Provide blankets for mom and baby as needed. Feeds can last a while, so making sure both mom and baby are comfortable and have everything they need can be so helpful.
4. Provide mom a glass of water during feeds. Moms need to drink water and stay hydrated in order to produce milk.
5. Burp baby during and after feeds. During the middle of a long feed or once a feeding is done, dad can burp baby.
6. Clean pumping supplies. If mom begins pumping, it is important to clean the pump parts between each use. Dad can help out by cleaning the supplies after mom finishes each session.
7. Label and refrigerate milk. Once mom is done pumping, dad can take the milk, label it with the day’s date, and place it in the refrigerator.
8. Give baby a bottle. If breastfeeding is going well and mom is pumping, dad can give baby a bottle during a feeding to give mom a break.
9. File baby’s fingernails. One of the best times to file baby’s nails is while she is asleep. This is an easy and helpful way to participate in baby’s care.
10. Be in charge of the car seat. Moms should not lift the heavy car seats during recovery, so dads can help by carrying the car seat and securing it in the car and taking it out.
11. Pick up more supplies. During those first couple of weeks at home, it becomes clear what products you use the most. Dad can purchase more diapers, wipes, clothing, etc… Amazon Prime is an extremely helpful way for parents to shop, especially with a newborn at home. You can try Amazon Prime by clicking here for a 30-Day Free Trial.
12. Skin-to-skin bonding time. Skin-to-skin contact is known to be an effective way for moms to bond with their babies immediately after birth. It is also a great way for dads to bond with their babies in the postpartum room and at home.
13. Tag team bath time. Work together to ensure you have everything you need for the bath like an infant tub, towel, diaper, clean clothes, wash cloths, and baby soap. Having two people there the first few times is helpful.
14. Act as a gatekeeper when necessary. More than likely, family and friends will want to visit your hospital room or home to meet your new baby. While it is an exciting time and visitors are often appreciated by new parents, it is also important to remember that mom is recovering, and your first priority is bonding with your little family. Dad can help schedule visits so mom and baby have adequate time to feed and rest.
15. Encourage mom to drink water and eat. With a new little life to take care of and feed around the clock, mom may forget to eat and drink. Dad can help keep mom’s water bottle full and pick up mom’s favorite takeout.
16. Pamper mom. A little foot rub or shoulder and neck massage can go a long way for a mom whose body is recovering from childbirth.
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17. Compliment mom. Many new moms wonder if they’re doing everything right. Take a second to let her know she’s doing an amazing job.
18. Take pictures of mom and baby. There will be no shortage of pictures of baby, but make sure mom’s getting in some pictures, too.
Bringing a baby home is a crazy time in life. Life doesn’t just stop when baby comes home. Bills still need to be paid, work has to get done, the house still needs cleaning, and so on. Teamwork between mom and dad is imperative.
Moms, here are 5 ways you can provide support to a new dad.
1. Show appreciation. Saying thank you for the little things goes a long way.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff. So maybe the outfit dad dressed baby in wasn’t the one you had in mind. If it’s not going to hurt anything, it might be best to leave well enough alone.
3. Let him sleep. A great way for dad to get in some bonding time with baby is snuggling on the couch and watching TV. Many times dad and baby will doze off. Mom, stay awake and close by to ensure baby’s safety, but let the two of them enjoy some much needed bonding time and rest.
4. Buy him a “dad” gift. This is going to be different for every dad because every guy’s personality is different. Maybe it’s a hat he has been wanting, a coffee mug, or a gift card to Starbucks. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive. It’s just a little way of doing something sweet for him as he steps into his new role.
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5. Compliment him. Dads need to hear they are doing a good job, too. If he’s doing an amazing job, tell him he’s the best dad. If you can’t imagine taking care of your little one without him, let him know.
When the dust settles and you are both a little more settled into your new normal, take time away with each other to stay connected. Your relationship is the foundation of your family, and your kids will be better for it. Being in charge of a new little one can be a little overwhelming for new moms and dads. Remember this quote by author Gretchen Rubin, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Savor the sweet moments, and always remember to laugh.
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