Hey Dad! Welcome to your first year of parenthood. There are a few things we know for sure: it’s going to be a LOT. It’s going to be amazing. You won’t get enough sleep. You WILL get a whole world of wonderful memories.
1. Your instincts are good, and you can trust them. Did you know that male bodies change when their children are born? We talk a lot about the changes that mothers’ bodies go through, but studies have shown that fathers also experience both hormonal and brain changes. The areas of your brain that link to attachment, nurture, empathy, and responsiveness to your baby are ACTIVELY growing. You are biologically equipped to care for your newborn well. You’ve got this, Dad.
2. Your baby is trying to tell you something! Each newborn is a unique human who is actively communicating their needs. As you spend time with your little one, you’ll learn to read their cues and understand what each different cry means. Just like it takes time to get to know another adult, it takes time to get to know your baby! Don’t stress if there’s a little extra fussing while you’re getting to know each other – just keep trying until the patterns start to make sense.
3. Daily caregiving will help you feel at home in your new role. Sometimes, traditional gender roles stand between new dads and the daily tasks of changing, feeding, bathing, and soothing a newborn. Make it a priority to learn how to navigate all these new skills. If your partner is nursing, learn how to set up the pump for her, which pumped milk is ready to go next, and know how to handle the clean up and sanitizing. Change diapers. Learn everything, even if you don’t have to – you’ll feel better, and more connected with your baby, if you feel confident in your ability to care for them well.
4. When you can, wear your baby. Holding baby close to your chest stimulates oxytocin, which helps both of you bond, and baby carriers are an excellent way to keep your hands free while you’re bond-building and baby-caring.
5. Don’t be afraid to go it alone. Sometimes, dads have to work a little harder to get solo one-on-one time with a newborn, but it’s incredibly helpful to get away from everyone else while you work out your own personal parenting style. Take your little one on a walk right after a feeding, or get up early to squeeze in an independent hour while your partner gets some much-needed sleep. Your relationship with your baby is YOURS – it’s beautiful, and essential, and good.
6. Mistakes will be made. You’ll have superhero parent days, and days when you’re pretty sure you’ve done everything all wrong. You’ll mess up, make messes, have a lot of laughs, and learn as you go – this is normal. This is good. Take notes, try again, and don’t forget to go easy on yourself. You’re doing some of the hardest work you’ll ever do, and most of us weren’t given perfect tools to do it with. You are exactly the parent your baby needs. All you really have to do is love them as much as you can.
We’ll be celebrating every #dadadamoment along with you, and we’ve got your back every step of the way. So happy to be on this journey with you. It’s going to be a wonderful one.