Most couples choose to have Mom stay off work for a year after giving birth. But even with Mom as the primary caregiver, Dads are far more involved in raising their children than was the case a generation ago. Parenting is increasingly a partnership rather than a division into rigid, gender-based roles.
There are benefits all around. Research has found that a father's involvement has a positive effect on co-parenting and partner relationships, personal development, and the social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of children.
Here are some of the common ways men dive into parenting.
Take your baby for an entire day every week.
Continuous time with your baby is a great way to develop a deep bond. For activities, be creative—take baby to a play group one week, a park the next, then a swimming pool, and so on. Of course, some days you may choose to just hang out together, letting baby choose the activities and set the rhythm of the day.
Give Mom a break by feeding baby with expressed breast milk or formula (if Mom is not breastfeeding).
By the time your baby is 1 month old, he will likely have settled into breastfeeding and Mom’s milk supply should be well established. An occasional bottle shouldn't disrupt your baby’s routine. Taking care of some of those 2 o’clock in the morning feedings can help Mom dial back her sleep deprivation. And feeding is the ultimate in intimacy with your baby.
Change diapers—lots of them.
Pretty much no one enjoys changing diapers, but if done in the right spirit, it can be fun for you and baby. It’s part of nurturing and often finds your baby relaxed and playful. So tickle that belly, pull on those little toes.
Play’s the thing.
For your baby, play is serious business. It’s how she discovers the world and develops skills such as reaching, rolling, and, little by little, crawling, walking, and talking. Dads tend to play differently than Moms—they’re more physical and keep up a faster pace, and your baby likes the different voice, rhythm, and activities. Play peek-a-boo, tickle, read stories, laugh—you’ll have as much fun as baby.
Bring baby along when you’re doing chores.
Whether perched in a backpack or a snuggly, your baby will be thoroughly entertained by visits to the supermarket, hardware store, drugstore, library and so on. And you’ll have delightful company.
Bath time is bonding time.
Bring him into the tub with you. He’ll enjoy the warm water and the comfort of being with Dad.
A Father's First Few Weeks After Birth
The Amazing Milestones video series has covered many topics but up to now, it’s all been “Mommy Mommy Mommy” and “Baby Baby Baby”. It's time to change our tune to “Daddy Daddy Daddy”. This episode is for Dads and Dads-to-be!