10 ways to help Dad become an expert baby handler

June 16, 2016 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Moms

You found out you’re going to have a baby. As you experience all the newness of pregnancy, your partner may naturally feel left out. You and your baby have already started bonding in a way he can’t. Once baby is born, some new dads take longer to bond, only furthering this disconnect.

It is so important to be partners in parenting from the start. Babies are demanding, and you’ll need to work together now more than ever to get through it. If you aren’t convinced, just read 8 honest truths about life with a newborn.

Keeping your partner engaged early on will also be incredibly important for your marriage. It’s time to ditch those traditional parenting roles. They no longer apply — especially today with both parents often working.

So how do you help Dad become an expert baby handler?

During pregnancy

  • Involve him in the pre-planning – Make your partner a part of the announcement to friends and family. Include him in the baby shower — or better yet, suggest an “expectant dad” outing with his guy friends.
  • Add OB appointments to his calendar – Bring your partner to your OB appointments – if not all of them, then at least the big ones like the first and 20-week ultrasound. Hearing the heartbeat and seeing baby on the screen will make it more real for him.
  • Register and decorate the nursery together – Let your partner have some control over the baby registry and nursery design. You may have strong opinions, but try to compromise. Pick options that work for you and ask him which he likes best so he’s part of the decision-making.
After baby is born
  • Share duties from the start – Encourage your partner to dive right in. If you’re breastfeeding, let him do the bathing and diaper changes, or consider pumping your breast milk so he can give nighttime bottles. The more he does, the more confident he’ll feel in his daddy duties.
  • Don’t hover – When your partner is tending to the baby, leave the room so he’ll be forced to figure things out for himself. He’ll never get comfortable caring for baby if you’re always nearby.
  • Make a nighttime plan – The biggest adjustment to having a baby is sleep deprivation. Split up nighttime duties: you take the 10 p.m. – 2 a.m. shift and he takes the 2 a.m. – 6 a.m. shift, or tradeoff for a night at a time. Divide and conquer so you both don’t go crazy from lack of sleep.
  • Don’t judge – Lose the idea that you’re the only one who knows how to properly take care of baby. He may not do things exactly as you would, but as long as baby is safe, keep quiet. Let him figure out his own system now so you aren’t stuck doing all the work later.
  • Give him alone time with baby – Go away for a few hours or for a whole night so your partner can spend time alone with baby. You’ll get a break, and you’ll give him a chance to figure things out for himself. When you return, offer him some free time to recharge too.
  • Don’t keep score – Don’t argue back and forth over who has it tougher or who is working harder. If you want him to change more diapers, tell him. Offer to cook while he does the dishes, and vice versa. Communicate openly with each other to prevent resentment down the road.
  • Set date nights – Set aside time to be together without baby. It’s tough to find time (and energy) to do this, but it’s a necessity for your relationship! Line up a sitter and block your calendar regularly to go out to dinner, go for a walk, take a cooking class together, etc.

Having a baby can naturally cause a strain on a marriage. Learn to be partners in parenting and you’ll get through it together. Just think, by the time the kids are school age, your relationship will be that much stronger.

How do you and your partner work together to care for baby? Share with us in the below comments.

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