Becoming a dad for the first time is exciting and intimidating all at the same time. How do I hold the baby? Am I changing this diaper right? How best do I support my partner? These are just some of the many questions that you will ask yourself as a new father, and it can feel overwhelming. The good news is that armed with the best advice and the best in equipment, you will soon start to get the hang of being a first-time parent.
When you become a father for the first time, one of the immediate challenges is lack of sleep. Babies wake during the night because they want a feed, or they need comforting, or they need to have their diaper changed. At the same time, parents need to get their rest, and you are not going to be able to meet day-to-day challenges head on if you do not get your sleep, never mind all of the demands that come from being a dad. The key is to put in place a better routine around bedtime than you might have done in the past. Staying up late to watch a movie or game on the television or browsing social media before you go to sleep are out. Try to get to bed earlier than you did before your baby was born. An extra ten minutes can make a huge difference.
It is essential to get the balance between your new responsibilities as a parent and everything else in your life right. Unless you are going to be a stay-at-home dad – and a growing number of men are choosing that option – you are still going to have to go to work. Employers recognize the challenges of being a new parent, but you have responsibilities toward your workplace. Do not neglect friends and family either. Finding the time to meet up can be difficult, but those closest to you apart from your partner and child can be a great source of support and advice.
Look after your health. Try to get some exercise, and eat properly. You want to be as supportive to your partner and child as you can be, and sometimes you have to drop everything to be there for them. However, a partner who neglects their own wellbeing is not doing themselves or their family any favors.
Communication with your partner is another challenge for new dads. Relationships typically suffer when a baby arrives, but couples should not let problems endure so that the relationship suffers long term and the couple start to resent each other. Talk things out, and decide together that you are going to handle the stresses and strains together. Remember that you are a team.
The right stuff
Baby equipment essentials can be divided into two categories: the obvious and the not-so-obvious. The obvious essentials include crib/cot, authorized baby seat for the car, bottle sterilizer, diaper bag, changing table or pad. The not-so-obvious are those items that are going to help you adjust successfully to fatherhood but which may not spring immediately to mind. These can include:
A baby carrier: Before you became a dad, you might have scoffed at the idea of a baby carrier because you have two arms and you know how to use them. In reality, a baby carrier is one of the most useful items to have. It frees up your arms to do those everyday tasks that you might otherwise struggle to do while holding baby, such as carrying bags of shopping from the car into your home or carrying a bag of dirty diapers outside to the trash can before the house starts to reek of baby poo. A baby carrier is also useful when you want to get out of the house for a walk and you want to bring baby with you, giving your partner some free time. A carrier should be sturdy and provide sufficient support for you and your baby.
Bath-time helpers: Bath time is a great opportunity for new dads to bond with their babies. You also get the opportunity to introduce your child to playtime, so get your hands on some bath toys. An item as simple as a pour bucket is perfect for little hands and helps aid motor skills.
When it comes to essential baby products, new dads will find all that they need online. In the news and a favorite among those in the know is baby products website Skip Hop.
With the right advice and the right pieces of equipment, you can and will move from being a rookie dad to an expert dad in no time.
Photo credit: sara* on Flickr. CC-BY-ND-2.0