I’ve had the conversation more than thrice. Chances are you have too.
It’s a conversation with a new father, and he describes how dramatically the mother’s life has changed… and how little his has.
“You know, I’m not really a baby guy,” he says.
He’ll dial back in when the kid starts to interact and walk, he says. Till now, goodness, there’s just not that much he can do. Biology just isn’t in his favor at this stage.
Now, to be fair to the new dad, what he says is partially true. Mothers possess an innate physiological connection with their new baby, evidenced by the miraculous and instant connections babies have with their moms and their ability to grow and sustain them with their very own bodies.
But dads need not be relegated to the roles of cheerleader or breadwinner during these early seasons—though both are important roles. You should take every chance you can to step up and serve as a partner and an ally with your heroic lady and new baby. If you have the capacity to make a baby, you have the capacity to father your baby. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Diaper Dominator: If you have two (or, ideally, three) hands, you’re ready to become the Master Diaperer in your home. Everyone is awkward the first time around. But, good news: there will be no shortage baby waste created and in no time, you’ll be bonafide special forces with the duty. Don’t be afraid to have a little swagger about your newfound expertise. Own this role. Celebrate it. Mom will be thrilled. [Tip for Moms: Dad might seem hand-tied out of the gates. Give him time, space and cheers as he sharpens his diapercraft.]
- Chief Comforter: I’ve witnessed more than one dadcraftsman who taught me the ways to a baby’s heart. They’ve soothed and rocked their babies from tears to zzz’s like jedi masters. A good place to start is the 5S framework developed by UCLA pediatrician, Dr. Harvey Karp: Swaddling, Swinging, Shushing, Sucking and Sides. Grab a copy of Happiest Baby on the Block to see each of these explained. You’re capable of all of them. And if you’re going to comfort, why not comfort like a pro?
- Elite Encourager: The new baby haze during the first few months is real. It’s a sleep-deprived, stress-elevated season for mom, dad, baby and any siblings in the picture. It’s hard. But it’s in these moments of craziness where you have an opportunity to set the emotional tone of the home. Celebrate your wife’s way with the baby. Thank her for each time she wakes up to feed the baby. Tell her how proud of her you are.
In all these moments, you are faced with two options: The sidelines or the game. You can stand aside and act as if mom is the only capable parent. Or you can find every opportunity to join mom intentionally and practically in these wonderfully chaotic first days.
Postscript: Don’t miss our dad’s guide to the delivery room and other fathering tips from Ben Hamilton, former Broncos’ offensive lineman. Photo courtesy of our fellow dadcraftsman, Mat.
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