Don’t let anyone tell you that having a baby makes you less of a man.
Although the modern-day feminist movement has made it easier for new dads to be more involved with their children, there are still plenty of guys out there who believe men only belong in certain roles.
If you’re expecting, don’t feel intimidated by society’s expectations — being a new dad and caring for babies is one of the most rewarding experiences in life.
Having a new baby does present you with your fair share of challenges, though, especially if you’re adjusting to this role for the first time.
This guide will help with a few tips to ease the transition into parenthood so that you can celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime moment with your newborn child.
Chapter 1: Understand Your Role
Being a new dad means taking care of your children and acting as their main caregiver until they can do it themselves. When you become a parent, many new responsibilities come with this title — some are good, while some are not.
You’ll have to spend more quality time with your kids, monitor what they watch on TV, communicate daily about their progress and provide them with food, clothing, and shelter.
You’ll also have to deal with all of the waiting around that comes along with parenthood: doctor’s appointments, school meetings, and playdates, just to name a few.
Although we can’t ease every one of your responsibilities, this guide will help you better understand what you’re getting yourself into so that you can prepare yourself for these changes.
We’ll cover topics like how much time off work paternity leave is, ways to spend quality time with your child, and why caring for an infant is more than meets the eye.
Chapter 2: Prepare Your Home
Your role as a new dad may involve adjusting your home life or even moving locations altogether. Whether it’s your main residence or something temporary, while the happy baby is a newborn, you’ll need to make sure your home is ready for life with a little one crawling around.
Here are some ways to prepare your house that will accommodate a baby’s needs:
Make sure there’s plenty of open storage space.
From the nursery and the kitchen pantry to your entryway closet–babies require plenty of space for all of their worldly possessions. Most new parents complain about having too many things rather than not having enough space!
Let go of clutter.
You may have been able to maintain an organized home before you had kids, but this is no longer possible once they’re part of the equation. It’s important for children’s safety that everything has its designated place.
Don’t get rid of your furniture.
While babies may not require a lot of space, they will need plenty of support for their fragile bodies. Replacing everything in your home with plastic play mats and bean bags isn’t necessary and can be expensive — just make sure that all of your upholstered items are baby-proofed!
Update the lighting.
Babies love to be surrounded by light; however, most parents choose to dim the lights down when putting them down for bedtime.
It’s important to have lamps or overhead lights right next to your child’s crib so you can see what you’re doing when changing diapers or feeding during nighttime feedings.
Add some sound.
Children’s nursery items may be devoid of sound, but when your baby cries, you will enjoy having soothing music playing as they sleep.
Update the paint.
If you’re expecting a boy or girl soon, then now’s the time to take down those old flowery wallpaper borders and dusty rose paint. This task is also important for parents who do not know their child’s gender.
There are many other ways to prepare your home for new baby care, including preparing all necessary changes in advance and coming up with a plan before things go sour.
Chapter 3: Take Care of Yourself
Although we don’t recommend it, we understand that some men neglect themselves once they bring someone else into this world. This is not only bad for you but can also be dangerous for your newborn.
Taking care of yourself should never take a backseat to take care of your happy baby. Not only are you giving them the gift of life, but you’re also providing them with love and guidance that will help shape their futures.
So how should you go about taking care of yourself? Here are some ways to show yourself some love:
New parenthood comes with plenty of sleep deprivation, so it’s easy to reach for unhealthy foods at all hours of the day. Avoid these urges by having nutritious snacks on hand!
Having protein bars in your pantry or nuts in your car are great options because they’ll keep you feeling full until the next meal.
Take a shower.
You may think that you can skip taking a shower every once in a while, but your baby will need your attention–so take care of yourself first!
Although this isn’t always possible with newborns, take care of personal hygiene as soon as you are able. Even if it’s just rinsing off, having clean hair or teeth will go a long way towards making both you and your baby feel great.
Get some rest.
It should be mentioned again that new parenthood comes with plenty of sleep deprivation, which means there’s no time for laziness.
Even though it should be obvious, don’t forget to get enough sleep for yourself. If needed, make a schedule to get up early for a shower, breakfast, and exercise before the baby wakes up.
Do something to relax.
It’s easy to forget about yourself when you’re overwhelmed with your new responsibilities — do something that makes you feel good once in a while!
Spend some time by yourself, meet up with friends, and take an art class: whatever it is that rejuvenates, you should be done regularly.
Chapter 4: Care for Your Baby
No matter how many books or websites you read, nothing will prepare you for actually holding your newborn baby in your arms.
This can be among one of the most rewarding feelings; however, it can also overwhelm even the most prepared parent. Here are some tips to make sure you care for your baby properly:
Keep them topped up.
It’s never good to let a baby go hungry, so make sure you’re always feeding or comforting your little one. Although it may take some time to establish your child’s feeding schedule, this will be essential as they get older.
Even if they’re crying because you think they need food, comfort them before placing them back in their crib just to see what happens!
Have everything within reach.
When caring for an infant, having everything within arm’s reach is very important. When changing diapers, rocking the baby back and forth, or even holding the baby upright, make sure that every item needed is accessible without stretching or straining yourself.
By keeping things close by, you can ensure that your baby is safe and comfortable.
Use your judgment.
As a father, it’s important to use your judgment when taking care of your child. Although books are helpful, they may not know what works best for you. Spend time with your baby and find out what makes them happy!
Sometimes changing habits isn’t easy because we feel like we know better; however, spending time with the baby will help make both of you happier in the long run.
Chapter 5: Bonding With Your Baby
A newborn can bring about feelings unlike anything else in life; unfortunately, some new dads never get past this feeling despite their best efforts.
This doesn’t mean that new dads dislike their children; however, it can be hard to bond with someone completely helpless. Here are some things that can help you quickly bond with your new crying baby!
Spend time alone with your child.
Just like mommies need “me” time after giving birth, daddies do too.
Although babies love the company of their parents, they don’t expect to be entertained–so make sure to set aside some alone time for yourself!
This will allow you both to recharge before diving back into life together as a new dad and son or daughter.
A great way to relax is by enjoying a good book–now’s the perfect time for this because your little one won’t have anything better to do!
Reading to your child is a great way to pass the time while you bond with them; not only will they enjoy the bedtime story, but it will also help you remember some of the books you loved as a kid.
Enjoy their smile.
Everyone loves to smile and laugh–and infants love it even more than most grownups! Instead of spending all day taking care of the baby’s needs, drop everything once in a while and just play with them.
Whether you’re trying to get them giggling or goo-gooing, enjoying your child’s smile will make both yours and theirs better in no time!
Chapter 6: Feeding Your Baby
For parents who bottle-feed their baby, this can be one of the most rewarding parts of parenthood.
Although it’s important to prepare yourself for the sleepless nights and never-ending diaper changes, taking care of a baby can be incredibly rewarding! Here are some tips that will help you bottle-feed your child:
Have everything ready.
Just like changing diapers, there’s nothing worse than needing something while changing a dirty diaper–having bottles prepared while feeding your baby is key.
Everything from nipple cream to burp rags should be at arms reach when feeding your little one. This way, you won’t have any unfortunate mishaps involving a hungry baby crying and no supplies on hand.
Don’t overfeed them.
Even though it may take time for your baby to learn how much they need, it’s important not to overfeed them.
When bottle-feeding your child, be sure that you’re filling the bottle up enough–for some babies, this may be only a few ounces while others eat more; however, it’s important to take note of what they’re eating and not overdo it.
Get help if needed.
Remember that taking care of an infant isn’t easy–no matter who you are! If you’re having trouble feeding your baby or need some time alone, ask for help from friends or family members.
Infants can be difficult when they get hungry–but asking for assistance when needed will allow both parents to keep their sanity.
Chapter 7: Bathing Your Baby
Bathing a baby can be an incredibly enjoyable experience for both you and your child. Not only will they enjoy the warm water against their skin, but you’ll also enjoy seeing them bathing with their favorite baby toys or rubber ducky!
Here are some techniques to ensure that your little one enjoys bath time:
Get all of their necessities ready.
Bathing a baby is similar to feeding them. Nothing’s worse than needing something while changing a diaper–having supplies on hand is crucial during bath time.
Everything from shampoo to all-natural lotion should be near the bathtub so that you don’t have any unfortunate accidents involving wet, slippery children and running out of supplies.
Newborns don’t know how to use the bathtub as well as you do, and may not like it to begin with!
It takes time for them to figure out how to enjoy themselves in the water, but you’re only adding stress if they’re uncomfortable. Try to be patient and wait for your child’s cues before getting into the tub.
Keep their skincare regimen simple.
Newborns don’t need a lot of products on their delicate skin–using everybody wash, face wash, or lotion available can cause more harm than good!
All children need is a gentle soap designed especially for newborns–which contains no dyes, harsh chemicals, or fragrances. Keeping your baby’s regimen simple ensures that they have healthy, glowing skin!
Chapter 8: Storing Diapers
Storing diapers can be difficult, but not with these helpful tips!
Not only is it important to keep your baby’s diaper area clean, but you also want to make sure that they’re comfortable whenever possible. Here are some things you can do before storing away any diapering supplies:
Keep the diaper pail in an easily-accessible place.
Many parents will store their dirty laundry in the basement or another part of their homes, don’t let this happen! While most children aren’t potty-trained by age 3, grabbing a diaper quickly is key.
Keeping your bin near where you change your child will help them sleep more soundly at night–because you won’t risk waking them up when searching for a diaper in the dark!
Keep soiled diapers out of your baby’s reach.
It may be tempting to store dirty clothes in their room, but this can cause other problems. Although it’s important to keep their changing area clean, storing soiled clothing too close to them can result in an infection or rash if they rub against something while playing.
Make sure that any clothing that has been used is either sealed tightly in a plastic bag or thrown away–and never stored near where they sleep!
Chapter 9: Caring for Babies’ Teeth and Gums
To avoid baby teeth problems such as cavities and gingivitis, you must care for your baby’s teeth and gums. Not only can this help them grow up with healthy, clean mouths–but it’s also a great bonding experience! To ensure that your child has a pleasant tooth brushing experience:
Just as you introduce infants to the taste of food items, introducing them to toothbrushes is just as important! Even if their teeth haven’t grown in yet, try dipping a soft-bristled brush into some water and letting them play with it.
This will not only get them used to the feeling of having something in their mouth, but they’ll associate it with positive sensations instead of negative ones too!
Use different textures.
Exploring different textures is an important part of your child’s development, not just the ones on their hands. If you brush their teeth at night, try using a different toothbrush than you do during the day–make it soft or hard, big or small.
While they won’t tell you which one feels better, exploring different textures will help them know what to expect when they start getting more teeth!
Chapter 10: Just Relax, It's Okay To Let Them Be Kids
It can be difficult to know when your child is too young for certain responsibilities, and there are a few things that definitely shouldn’t wait.
However, if you’re looking to keep your baby relaxed and happy – there may not be any need for allocating extra time into their schedule! Here are some of the main reasons why it’s completely fine just to let your baby do whatever they want:
They aren’t ready.
Being able to tell the difference between tired and hungry is an important skill–even if they don’t seem like it at all. Although babies tend to sleep through the night by three months old, it takes much longer than that (up until 12 months) for them to fully understand what it means.
If your baby is tired, they may not have the energy to do much else–so even putting them in front of a single toy can be difficult for them!
They want their parents’ attention.
Although you want to teach your child how to play independently, you also want to let them know they’re loved. It’s okay if they still need constant support–and if you’re busy doing chores or taking care of another child, allowing them some downtime can provide them with both physical and mental benefits.
Whether you sing songs together or just sit down next to each other, spending time with your baby is always important!