Helping dads feel confident and empowered is just as important as it is for mums.
Try not to underestimate what they might be feeling.
Dads can feel anxious , uncertain and overwhelmed and sometimes even go through bouts of depression. Fatherhood can bring many challenges but we often underestimate how this change is affecting them.
Here are some ways you can to support them and help them feel more confident
1- Feelings versus Instincts
Many of us hear of the maternal instinct.
Dads may not have natural instinct but their instincts are just as powerful.
Don’t underestimate their feelings and advice. Acknowledging that they may have a different view that may not be influenced by hormones can be good to hear.
2- Give us a chance
An unsettled and crying baby can be challenging at the best of times.
Dads need to gain confidence to be able to settle and nurture their unsettled baby. They may have their own techniques for settling, winding or cuddles, so it’s best to leave them to it. Try not to intervene and grab your baby thinking that they need a mum rather than dad. Dads arms can be just as comforting as mums arms- give them a chance.
3- Trust them
It is very important to trust that your partner can manage your baby just like you can. Remember this is just as much of a learning curve for them as it is for you. He won’t be able to spend as much time with your baby as you do, so the more time he can spend with them and learn, the easier it becomes for the both of you.
So how can he help?
Whether it is formula or breastmilk via the bottle, this is a great opportunity to get them involved. Dream feeds, night feeds or the occasional day feed so mum can take an opportunity to rest. It may take time but with patience, dads will love that they can help with feeding. Of course when your bottle feeding, give them every opportunity to be involved.
Best option if you have difficulty winding is hand them over to dad.
For some reason, dads hands hold babies more upright and firmer to help babies bring up wind. Dads love hearing babies bring up the old mighty belch and they feel very proud.
Dads bonding with their babies is just as important as it is for mums.
The more opportunity you give dads the more confident they will feel.
Ways to bond are bathing, showering, lots of cuddles, story time, bottle feeding, winding, going for walks, singing to them are just a few.
Helping your baby to go to sleep can be challenging. Often during the day mums are the only people that settle babies and this may continue throughout the evening and at night because it becomes a pattern.
However, it is very important that you give dad the opportunity to settle your baby when they can. Communicate together how your baby best responds to settling and help each other out when support is needed
Night time wake ups – share the load even if you are breastfeeding. It’s important that baby knows both mum and dad are on the same page.
Mat time is a great way to interact. Get down on the floor with them, chat to them, sing to them, introduce books especially black and white in the early weeks.
Lap time can be used the same way. Don’t be afraid to sound goofy, be repetitive and make funny faces, your baby will love it.
Perfect time to take a baby for a walk or a run if you have a good buggy.
This gives dads time with their babies and mums time for themselves to rest, have a shower or however they wish to spend their time alone.
I can’t emphasize enough to allow dads to be dads.
Mums – if you struggle and you are finding that you might intervene its best to be mindful of their feelings and maybe even walk away and let them deal with any challenges.
Give them a chance to learn, engage and feel empowered.
Dads are parents too