These days, on playgrounds, at playdates and in pediatricians’ offices, you’re just as likely to see dads there as moms, as more and more dads are actively involved in their baby’s birth, feeding, burping, bathing, diaper changing and everything else that comes with having a newborn. At Westchester Health, we firmly support this fatherly involvement! But what if you’re a new dad and you haven’t a clue as to how to take care of a baby? Fear not. One of our Westchester Health Pediatrics pediatricians, Rodd Stein, MD, offers 5 tips for new dads to help make those sleepless days and nights easier.
Those first few weeks with a newborn are overwhelming, no matter what gender you are.
Here are 5 important tips that can help you cope with this very different world you’ve now found yourself in — fatherhood!
Pick up the slack
Even though you’ve just witnessed a major event (labor and birth), remember that your partner has been through even more (actually giving birth). Even though you can’t breastfeed you can help with all the household chores: laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, running errands, paying bills and more. The more you can do, the smoother the transition will be.
Take time outs
Due to your baby’s round-the-clock needs, your sleep deprivation and your partner’s hormonal changes, the first three months with a newborn can drive anyone over the edge. When things are escalating and one (or both) of you are at your wit’s end, take a time out. Run an errand, walk the dog, go out for coffee. After taking a breather, life often seems a lot more manageable.
Help with baby care
If your partner is breastfeeding, you may feel left out of the process but good news! There’s still lots you can do. Changing diapers, feeding your baby a bottle of pumped breast milk, burping, bathing, soothing when crying, putting your baby to sleep…all of these allow you to join in the new-baby experience. Your partner will welcome the support and you’ll get to spend precious quality time with your baby.
Dads can get the baby blues too
Although postpartum depression in new moms is well known, it’s much less acknowledged that fathers can also become depressed after their baby’s birth. Research shows that paternal postpartum depression (PPND) has a negative and long-term impact on the psychological, social and behavioral development of his kids, especially boys. If you feel you could be experiencing PPND, it’s very important to get help from a mental health professional. Your baby, your partner and especially you will benefit.
Value your different parenting style
When it comes to raising kids, men’s parenting styles are typically different from women’s but just as effective (sometimes more so). For example, when a toddler falls down, moms often swoop in to pick him/her up and soothe. Dads do the opposite: they let their child get back on his/her feet and try again. By letting them work through problems themselves, dads are teaching their children resilience and “stick-to-it-tiveness” — important qualities in life. Plus, dads are usually less overprotective than moms, allowing their kids to take risks because they recognize these as vital keys to learning.
If you’re a new dad, we’re here for you. Please come in and see us.
For new dads, as well as experienced ones, please call (914) 232-1919 to make an appointment with one of our Westchester Health pediatricians. He/she has expert advice and guidance to help you raise happy, healthy kids. Whenever, wherever you need us, we’re here for you.
To read Dr. Stein’s blog in full, click here.