5 things every first time dad should know
Sometimes it’s hard for dads to know what is expected of them, but you are just as important to the growth and development of your baby as the mother. Find some practical advice on what you can expect when you bring your baby home.
- Your Sleeping Pattern May Change
When your newborn baby comes home from the hospital for the first time, there is a period of adjustment for both parents. Newborns generally sleep more but in shorter intervals, they may sleep for a total of 16-18 hours a day, 8-9 hours during the day and about 7-9 hours at night, however not continuously they wake up every few hours to feed, because newborn babies have small tummies and require feeding frequently. They tend to fall asleep shortly after nursing. As your baby grows older, you will begin to notice that their sleeping pattern is gradually changing, they will begin to sleep for longer intervals at a time until eventually they are able to sleep through the whole night.
Experts advise parents to sleep any time their baby is sleeping, especially in the first few weeks, though often this is easier said than done. Not to worry though with time your body will adjust to this new sleep pattern and you will be just fine.
You can help your baby sleep by noticing signs that your baby is ready to sleep. These signs include; rubbing ears and eyes, yawning, looking away and fussing. Once you get to know your baby, you will start to see a pattern of when they are ready to sleep, you can then start a bedtime routine.
A lot of books and studies have been done around babies and sleep as it is one of the biggest challenges new parents face, it helps to read so that you can understand how to help your baby sleep better. Keep in mind that every baby is different so read and research widely to figure out what will work best for your little one.
We recommend the following resources:
Video (This is a brilliant technique on calming a fussy baby):
- Changing your baby’s diapers
First how NOT to change a dirty diaper
Changing your baby’s diaper for the first time can be overwhelming and you may feel like you do not know what you are doing. Generally, your baby should have at least one dirty diaper by the end of their first day of life. By the end of your baby’s first week, the number of dirty diapers should increase to five or six.
Baby girls need to have their private parts wiped from front to back, so that you do not get any faecal material in their genital area.
Baby boys like to pee just when you’ve removed their diaper because they enjoy the free feeling, so be prepared for that. You may have to keep a hand towel close to you just in case it happens.
- Warming up your baby’s bottle and feeding them
Regardless of whether the baby is exclusively breastfed, on formula or a combination of the two, it is important to learn how to bottle feed to and take over some feeding sessions. Feeding is one of the best ways to bond with a baby but often this bonding is only experienced by mothers, thanks to breast pumps, Dad’s can also experience this beautiful bonding experience. Plus you get to help Mum out when things overwhelming and that goes a long way in being a great dad.
When heating your baby’s bottle, you should make sure you don’t make it too hot, pour a drop of milk on the back of your hand to make sure it is not too cold or hot.
You can use bottle warming devices, bottle warmers help make sure your baby's milk is at the right temperature.
- Cleaning and Sterilising your baby’s bottles
Bottles, teats and other feeding equipment should always be thoroughly cleaned after each use with warm soapy water and then sterilised. Sterilising is the process of killing any harmful germs that may be clinging to surfaces of your baby’s bottles and other feeding equipment. It is important to sterilise your baby’s bottles before each use, for at least the first 6-12 months of your baby’s life.
Sterilising can be done by boiling, steaming using microwave or electric sterilisers, sterilising liquids or sterilising tablets. When using sterilisers make sure you read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If you choose not to use a steriliser you can always boil the baby’s bottles and teats in a sufuria / saucepan, it would be best to get one dedicated to the baby’s items so that there is no chance of them getting contaminated with something unsuitable for baby during cooking.
- Packing a diaper bag
As a first-time dad, you may be confused on what you need to put in your baby’s diaper bag.Here is a list of essentials you need to remember to pack
-Baby’s diapers (preferably one or two for every hour you plan to be out)
- Baby wipes and a changing pad.
- Hand sanitiser for cleaning your hands after diaper changes when there's no time or place to wash them.
- A change of clothes for your baby
- A blanket
- A pacifier (if your baby uses one)
- Bottle(s) and expressed breast milk or formula if you are bottle-feeding your baby.
As a new dad, you will learn a lot as you go on this beautiful adventure of parenthood, it may take a few weeks but before you know it all this will come naturally.
Congratulations and enjoy the journey!