When preparing dads and partners for welcoming their baby, one of the most common concerns I hear is that they don’t know how they will be involved in the first few weeks of their babies’ lives, and are anticipating feeling left out. They are also worried about their wives and partners being stretched thin and exhausted while breastfeeding or pumping all hours of the day and night. I love that fathers and partners more than ever want to be a part of the caregiving process. Here are some of my most suggested options:
Practice skin-to-skin with your baby. Babies’ most strong sense is their smell. Their sight is very blurry at birth: they can only see eight inches in front of their face! So, in addition to snuggling your baby, you can place them right on your bare chest. This isn’t just for moms. Your baby will also benefit from being regulated by your body temperature, heartbeat, and respiration, and they will quickly learn and be comforted by your smell.
Learn how to soothe your baby. When you are a new parent, hearing your baby fuss and cry can be really stressful. First, take a deep breath, and calmly assess the situation. Knowing the difference between hunger cues, discomfort, and tiredness is really handy. It can be really easy to assume that the baby is just hungry, or simply place them at the breast knowing that they will calm down quickly. They will eat a lot in the beginning, every 1.5 to 3 hours, however, whenever the nursing parent can have a break, it’s good to take advantage of it. Learn how to swaddle your baby. There are many variations and some might work better for your baby’s tendencies. Learn how to position your baby to help them get calm and comfortable, and learn how to help them relieve tummy troubles.
Wear your baby while doing day to day activities. In the first few weeks of life, babies are comforted by lots of movement because they were constantly rocked and bounced in the womb. There are all kinds of baby carriers, slings, and wraps out there to explore. Our clients also really enjoy the Nuroo.
Read to your baby. It might sound silly to read to a newborn, but it has proven benefits. Studies show that the more words babies hear between birth and 3 years of age, the higher their IQ and the better they do in school. Reading anything aloud, not just children’s books, is a great way to expose your baby to language in addition to narrating your life as you move about the house with your child, which many of us instinctively fall into.
Parenthood is a whirlwind, but this first part is particularly intense. Go easy on yourself and your co-parent. If you are the reading type, there are all kinds of great books out there for new fathers and partners. You can also take a Newborn Care Class, which we offer the 1st of the month at Magnolia Goods in Nashville. Many partners also benefit from hiring a postpartum doula to help them tackle life with a newborn in real time. Congratulations, and the warmest welcome to parenthood!
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