You may be pregnant with your first baby, filled with anticipation of seeing and meeting your new bundle of joy. What will he/ she look like? Will the birth go according to plan? How will I get the hang of breastfeeding? What kind of mum will I be? These are all valid questions but one of the most important questions to ask yourself is… will my “Baby Daddy” (father of the baby) cope!
Feel free to disagree, but I feel that in most mothers there is an inbuilt mothering instinct. We carry our precious offspring around for 9 months and after we give birth that bond just seems to be established much more definitely than for the daddy.
I have a fantastic husband, and he is a great father to our kids so I thought I would share some ideas to get that baby daddy in your life primed and ready to go with the huge life change that is about to happen in both of your lives.1) Encourage Baby Daddy to attend as many appointments during the pregnancy as possible. We were really blessed in our first pregnancy that we both worked shift work. So I would try and pick times for our appointments when we were both free so we could both hear that precious heartbeat together. If he can’t attend them all I would recommend the minimum to be the ultrasound. There is something special about seeing the intricate details of your baby’s anatomy together that makes it so real and exciting.
2) Make your birth partner your Baby Daddy. Give him and only him this task. Some mums do themselves a disservice by picking their mums or best friends over their own baby daddy to be their birth partner. Why? You are pretty much saying from the outset that you don’t trust them to be there for you at the biggest event of your lives. It sets a precedent for the rest of the time devaluing his input as a dad. He should be in awe of what you go through during labour, because it is amazing and amazingly painful! This alone will always be great leverage for a multitude of future squabbles.
3) Give Baby Daddy dibs on the first bath. The sooner he gets used to handling your new baby, the sooner he gains that valuable confidence. Many dads are afraid they are going to break them or drop them somehow, so encouraging him to “get in there” really helps. I would recommend getting him to do it regularly. Make sure baby is well fed and in a happy mood. Set the bath up and clothes to change into and let baby and baby daddy bond in a nice relaxed way.
4) Don’t criticize the way he does stuff. There is nothing a baby daddy hates more than hearing… "you are doing it all wrong!”, pretty soon he will give up, thinking well I can’t do it right so I won’t do it at all. Not good for his self esteem and not good for you because you’ll have to do it all yourself. Try encouraging him instead. Even if he puts the size 2 jump suit on your 6 month old baby; and backwards to boot. When he uses 20 baby wipes to clean up smelly number two’s, praise him for a clean, clean baby. Eventually we all become more adept at these all too familiar tasks and pretty soon he’ll be showing you how he can clean the worst baby explosion with a single wipe! Men are competitive…and thrive on encouragement and challenges.
5) Let your Baby Daddy feed the baby at times, either expressed milk in a bottle or formula if that’s what you do – they secretly enjoy snuggling up with a content child. It sure beats being constantly being handed a screaming baby to try and soothe when you’ve reached the end of your tether.
6) Make sure Baby Daddy has a little time out of his own. He will soon become resentful of the fact that his day is working and then coming home to family to do more “ work”. Encourage him to have some time out doing some exercise or pursuing a hobby or familiar interest. He will be happier for it.
7) Throw Baby Daddy in the deep end from time to time. Sometimes you just have to leave him to it, give him all the things he needs for a couple of hours and head out for a little a time out of your own. He may surprise you and himself. Let him know that you need some time out too.
8) Make sure Baby Daddy still feels loved and appreciated. In those first months you may feel like you have nothing left to give when you are giving it all to the little one. He can feel a little left out when your focus is not on him, so a little hand squeeze or a thank you lets baby daddy know that you still love and appreciate him.
9) Baby Daddy loves to show off his precious offspring in public. Let him do the honours of pushing the pram or carrying them to see friends and work mates to ooh and ahh over. He’ll love it. If you need to rescue your child from an obviously struggling baby daddy, do so discreetly and with a ‘thanks for giving it a go’ attitude. Never Ever undermine his parenting in public. Baby daddy’s confidence will disintegrate before your eyes.
10) Let your Baby Daddy be the dad. Our job is to nurture, organize routines, and make sure they are eating healthy… etc… all the boring mushy stuff. Dads just want to get in there with a bit of throwing in the air, rough and tumble play, and kick a ball around. Just let him get in there and do it. Of course he might need reminding that the 3 monther might not appreciate his first fishing trip yet… and that he might like to wait a little longer to take him paint balling, but when the times right, just let him do what he know best, which is to be the dad.
There you have it, my top 10 tips on how to train your baby daddy. Don't forget parenting is a learning process for both you.
Thanks to my Baby Daddy, my consultant on these tips. All the best on your parenting journey ahead.