Dad duties in the first 6 months
Becoming a dad can change your life overnight, suddenly you have so many additional responsibilities and a whole another human to take care of! Of course, you’ll feel overwhelmed. The key here is to have a basic understanding of what the role of a ‘father’ will require of you. Most men will look up to the most father-like figure in their lives. Reach out to them and have a chat about being a father. Additionally, here is what you should expect out of your first year of being a father and some tips to help you juggle parent duties with your partner and assist them too!
What to expect during your First-year of fatherhood?
Taking care of newborns is difficult (bonus points if your bundle of joy is a preemie!) and you have to adapt to their constantly changing needs and wants. It is extremely common to find yourself constantly feeling exhausted, tired and not having much of a ‘schedule’.
Bonding with your little one may not be an instant and it may take a few days and that’s normal. As long as you make an effort to hold your baby and help out with duties like changing nappies, cleaning up spit ups, feeding and burping them after a meal, you are rest assured playing your part well!
One more thing to remember is that taking care of a newborn will be far from a fairytale. It’s going to be hard and challenging at times, it’ll require you to be sensitive to those around you and go out of your comfort zone.
So what exactly are dad duties and what’s the best way to fulfil them?
Dad duties and responsibilities for the first 6 months
- First month:
Most people say that the first month is the most important one for new fathers, as you have to cater to the needs of your partner and your baby. Be intuitive to your partner’s needs and realise that they may need breaks more often if they have given birth and are breastfeeding. Ensure that they are hydrated at all times. You cannot plan elaborate meals or date nights but try to cook meals that they enjoy eating, even if they like something easy to make like grilled cheese.
- Communicate! :
Communication is super important, even if both of you are tired and feel overwhelmed, communicate to avoid misunderstandings. This helps you figure out a routine for both of you. Questions like: who’s on the night shift require a prior discussion. Ask and divide duties like dad diaper duty of changing diapers, washing and sterilizing of pump parts, bottles, nipples and pacifiers.
- Ask for help when needed:
As a new parent, most of the learning happens on the job so you’re bound to make mistakes and feel overwhelmed. Remember mistakes are laughable and make for good pictures to reminisce upon in the future. If you and your partner need to relax, don’t be afraid to ask for help from trusted family members or hire a babysitter and take the night off.
- Offer to take the night shift:
Share in sleepless nights during the early weeks. Even if you don’t give additional bottles, you can do a lot: Pick up your baby, change their diapers, deliver the baby to mom for breastfeeding and return the baby when feeding is complete to the bed or the bassinet or optionally have some dad and newborn time. This allows you to not only bond with your baby as a dad but also gives your partner a much-needed break.
- Master the art of swaddling and diapering:
Not only is this skill useful but it also helps out so much. Watch a few tutorials on youtube and regularly practice swaddling and diapering your little one till you master this essential skill. A bonus to this is it impresses your partner to no end. Want to take your baby for a stroll through the park but need a last-minute diaper change? Your mastery of this skill puts them out of the bind and helps you score brownie points with them.
- Help out your partner when you can:
It might seem simple, but here’s some sound new-dad advice: Never ask an exhausted new mom, “What for dinner?”. Try, “Hey, what can I make us for dinner?”. For the first six months, parenthood is more than a full-time job, which ensures that the proportion of mom’s work is increased. So take your slack, be it food, washroom or routine cleaning, whenever you can, help out in any way that can. Another thing to do while helping new moms is to ask them if they need something when they are in the middle of nursing the baby or putting them to sleep. Lastly, feel free to banish unwanted visitors as hosting people is not a priority while taking care of your little one.
According to research, fathers who respond to their baby’s cries, hold and hug them often, and engage in their basic care have a positive impact on their children’s self-confidence and behaviour. Another study found that while fathers are more active in childhood, their children are less likely to exhibit signs of mental health issues at the age of nine. Fathers and male role models are more likely to be a baby’s playmate than mothers. Fathers’ play with children is more active and vigorous than mothers’ play. This will encourage children to explore and be self-sufficient. Now that you know what is expected of you, take a deep breath and bask in the glory of fatherhood!