Research shows that a dad’s involvement in childbirth and caring for the new baby benefits everyone—both the parents and baby

 Perhaps you’re thinking, “Great”, my partner is very involved in my pregnancy and plans to be there at the birth, so we’re good! However, we often expect dads to know what to do once baby is born and the reality is they may never have seen fathers caring for their babies.

See also: New Dads Can Have Postpartum Depression, Too

Culture shift for dads

The culture shift in the last 30-40 years has been from dads not being allowed in the labor room or expected to participate in newborn care, to expecting them to know everything and be good at it. Dads today may or may not have had dads who were involved in baby care. Dads often feel left out if baby is breastfeeding. Happily, today’s dads want to rise to the occasion. Sadly, they don’t always know how. Here are some suggestions to help make the paternal experience a happy and fulfilling one.

Create a special time that belongs to dad

Maybe it’s right before bed or bath time. This is a special bonding time for dad and baby, and honestly, moms may not want to admit it, but they need a break.

Share breastfeeding duties

If baby is breastfeeding, dad can be the one who gets baby to mom in the middle of the night and puts baby back to sleep. Dad will share the burden of interrupted sleep and feel part of the feeding process.

Trust your partner

The mothering instinct can be strong, which is usually great, but it can also be “judgey” and “protective”, even toward the baby’s dad. So, relax and let dad help and also allow for mistakes (moms make them too).

Take a newborn class before delivery

This is important for both parents because, even if you have experience with newborns, recommendations change frequently and this ensures mom and dad have the same up-to-date information on baby care.

 Encourage dad to be part of the record-keeping

Taking photos and writing down memories or milestones in a book can be fun, but it’s also a job. It’s more likely to get done with two subject matter experts on the job. 

Enjoy the newborn experience; it’s special!

See also:

Create and Maintain Healthy Relationships

Dad and Baby Time


Heather Watson, PhD, MSN, BSRN is a nurse scientist at Johns Hopkins Health System and expert advisor to Healthy Mom&Baby.

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