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First time dad laying down and hugs newborn across his chest and giving kisses

Tips on being a first time dad

Find out what to expect as a new dad.

    3-minutes read


    You’re a first time dad - it’s a great feeling, but you might be wondering how to be more hands on.

    There are plenty of ways you can bond with baby and support your partner at the same time. Follow these new dad tips for advice on everything from how dads can help during labour to father-baby bonding and everything in between.

    1. Prepare yourself for the birth

    Becoming a dad for the first time can be daunting to say the least, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of advice out there about what to expect as a new dad so doing a spot of preparation now before baby arrives will help you feel prepared. If you want to offer more practical help to your partner you could take pregnancy classes for couples together—as well as all the practical advice, you’ll get a new-found appreciation of what your partner’s body is about to go through! The classes will also offer advice about how you can support during labour and can really help with the all-important father bonding with your baby during pregnancy. Taking classes with other parents to be is a great way to meet other dads to be and parents too. So, start researching classes in your area and get you both booked in.

    2. Take care of your relationship after baby has come along

    As we expect you’ve already discovered having a baby is a life-changing experience! Sometimes all those plans you and your partner made before baby came along might not pan out the way you thought. You’re also going to be absolutely exhausted. Whatever you do keep talking and being honest with each other, it’s the best way to stop the pressure of being new parents affect your relationship. Yes, there’s a new VIP in town, but make sure you tell your partner what you’re thinking, ie you’re in awe of them and what they’re doing. Everyone’s different; you may feel you need more time adjusting to life as the three of you, so don’t be shy about saying no to uninvited guests. Read our checklist on how to handle visitors after giving birth for more tips.

    3. Looking after newborns

    Welcome to your new world of nappy changes, baby bathing and trying to soothe your little one when they cry. Taking the night shift to give your partner a break can be such a big help, and if your partner is breastfeeding, you could burp the baby and get them settled afterwards. And if you’re bottle-feeding then this is a great opportunity for you to enjoy some twilight feeds together and encourage father bonding with baby. It’s those sorts of moments, bonding over the early morning feeds, that you’ll never forget as a new dad.

    4. Learn your baby’s cues

    You’re a new dad and suddenly you’ve got a new little person living with you! It will take time to learn what your baby’s cries, gurgles and coos mean. You’ll soon spot the baby hunger cues and baby tired cues so you can jump in before the crying starts. Watch our videos for signs of a hungry baby which can include sucking on hands, rooting and smacking lips, while jerky limb movements, and a glazed stare can all be baby tired cues. Our videos should help you become an expert at understanding your baby’s body language.

    5. Make sure baby gets lots of skin to skin contact with dad

    Did you know that holding your naked baby on your bare chest (inside your top if it’s cold) brings so many benefits? That closeness with you can regulate your baby’s heart rate and temperature, can relax them and help you to bond. Keeping a nappy on will help avoid any nasty surprises. An excellent time for a bit of skin to skin contact with dad is after you’ve bathed your baby, first thing in the morning when you can scoop them into bed with you, or during bottle-feeds. It’s such a wonderful time, and you’ll enjoy the father-baby bonding just as much as your baby does.

    6. Talking to your newborn

    Every word your baby hears helps develop their language skills and strengthen your relationship. So as well as reading to your baby, give them a running commentary of what you’re doing, no matter how mundane the task might be—“I’m just looking for a cloth to wipe this spit-up”, as well as telling them how much you love them.

    first time dad carrying his newborn baby

    7. Offer breastfeeding support

    Okay so you may not have breasts, but there are plenty examples of dads supporting breastfeeding that you can follow. Whether it’s making your partner comfortable with pillows and back rubs, bringing her a glass of water without her asking (mums can get very thirsty as their milk starts to flow), or simply listening if she’s struggling, you can be there for her throughout. Breastfeeding can be challenging, particularly in the early days, so you could find out about breastfeeding support services if your partner needs help. Just be there for your partner and provide reassurance.

    8. Self care for dads

    Being a new parent is tough and self care for dads is a real thing! It’s vitally important that you take good care of yourself so you can take the best care of your family. Getting out and about and doing some exercise (it’s incredible what a good workout pushing a buggy up a steep hill can be), sleeping when you can and keeping in touch with friends and family will keep your dad energy topped up. Talking to other dads can help, and they might have their own first time dad tips to offer too. If you and your partner can enjoy a bit of self-care time together, then that’s even better.

    9. Sharing household duties

    In the first few weeks after your baby’s birth, you may well be doing a lot more household chores than you did before, especially if your partner has had a c-section. It doesn’t take much to help and support your partner; you could support your partner by cooking their favourite meal or getting a takeaway in so you can all take a break. As you get into the rhythm of things, have a chat about how you’re splitting parenting responsibilities and sharing household duties so you’re clear and happy about who’s doing what.

    10. Take lots of photos!

    Babies change so much so quickly. The first weeks and months of parenthood will fly by in a blur, but keep your phone charged as there will be lots of photo opps. Whether it’s pics of just your baby, or your partner and your little one, keep snapping away throughout the day. You can never have too many pics of your beautiful new arrival. Selfies with you and your gorgeous son or daughter are a must too. And no, this doesn’t have to be to styled and posed to post on social media, but just so you and your partner can look back in years to come and remember that time when you became parents.

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