Dads offer unique perspective to parenting and their own set of skills and nurturing, but many dads I speak with aren’t sure their place in responding to the needs of a newborn, or what specially they can do as a father. Most men I speak with can easily relate to being with their children in the toddler or school age years, but aren’t sure what to do with a baby.
To all the dads out there: Know that you make a difference, that you’re not alone in feeling this way, and consider these 3 tips:
Take the time to do something for YOU
Play a sport, hang out with buddies, just be a guy. I know some of you might be rolling your eyes, when I taught classes I saw them. But truly, this is something I stress for both women and men.
If you don’t make your emotional and mental health a priority life with a newborn, especially the first baby, can become overwhelming. Every parent can give more to their children when they have some time out – even if it’s just an hour a week. Something is better than nothing and you might be surprised by how rejuvenating it can be.
Spend time with the newborn – get involved
Infants need their momma, especially if being breasted, and infants know their momma better. But that doesn’t mean they don’t need their dad. If you’re having trouble connecting, or want to increase your time with the baby, try these simple things:
- Skin to skin contact
- Within the first few weeks of newborn life, men’s hormones start to slightly shift. Testosterone drops a little, and oxytocin increases. In women it is important for childbirth, bonding and breastfeeding. In men it helps develop fatherly nurturing behaviour. Oxytocin is the ‘love and nurturing hormone’ and it plays huge role in social bonding. The good news is your body has everything it needs inside! Hormones are amazing and purposeful. You can expand your confidence as a dad, by being with your baby. The more you hang out with your baby the more oxytocin will be produced and the more like ‘dad’ you will feel.
- Ask your partner how you can get involved! Ask them for guidance in tasks.
Move your body
Make sure to engage in activities that help you feel strong, relaxed and whole. New parents tend to be sedentary – they’re tired and spent – but your body needs to move! You don’t need a gym membership, a trainer or even any weights. You can use your own body as weight and try HIIT training in your home. It’s quick and effective and you can find workouts everywhere! Just do a quick search for an app or on YouTube.
There are so many benefits of exercise that can help combat the challenges of new dad life, lowering your stress, building up your immune system, and improved overall health.