Everyone loves a good funny video of a dad changing a little one's diaper. Why more moms don't videotape their expressions and gags is a mystery, because dads find the perfect way to make it a hilarious experience!
As mothers, we spend all of our available time while we are pregnant researching EVERYTHING for the days, weeks, and months ahead. Dad's job is to help count kicks and be ready for D-Day when it arrives. But what happens after D-Day? The newborn stage can be pretty darn confusing for dads, particularly when it comes to helping mom. There are a lot of sleepless nights, incessant crying fits, and adorable moments followed by poop-splosion diapers.
But there are a few easy ways mom can help dad out until he gets comfortable enough to handle things with the baby. It's important to keep in mind that with the large learning curve that parenting offers, there's a lot to be learned for both mom and dad. But he can certainly use all the help he can get because babies are pretty messy and confusing!
Here are ten things dads will be confused about after the baby comes, and 5 easy ways moms can help them...
14 Burping The Baby Is A Daunting Task
Burping your sweet babe might come easily to you because the nurses have shown you how, or you're lucky enough to have a supportive mom to show you the ropes. For your partner/husband, however, that probably isn't the case. Dads get really confused (and even scared!) when it comes time to burp after a feeding. It is perfectly normal for dads (and for some moms as well) to feel really nervous when burping the baby.
When I gave birth to our first, my husband was a little lost on how much was enough. If he burped our son too much, he spit up. And then if he didn't burp him enough, he also spit up. He seemed to spit up no matter how much he was burped! My poor husband thought it was his fault (sometimes, like in our case, it's something more serious like reflux!). Newborns are so fragile, and holding their neck and effectively burping them is really intimidating to some guys, too.
13 Messy Diapers Are New Territory
Oh, buddy. Moms get pretty confused on effectively changing messy diapers, too. But there's something hilarious about watching a grown man get grossed out and freak out when having to change that dreaded stinky diaper. The faces, moans of despair, and curse words under their breath don't stop either, and last for as long as they have to change your little guy's butt. When my husband changes one, he pulls the wipes from the container like a magician pulls the never-ending scarf from his hat.
We get it, babies are really smelly and it's really unpleasant to have to change them. But thankfully everything is mostly disposable these days, and we can just toss the stinky diaper in the trash and go back to snuggling that sweet newborn. Dads don't realize just how much this helps us moms, so kudos to all the messy diaper-changing daddies out there!
12 Why Is There A Baby In The Bed?
Co-sleeping is when the baby shares the bed with mom and dad. This method of sleeping for young babies gets quite a bit of bad press, but is a really common sleep practice nowadays. Co-sleeping can be really confusing to dad, though, because there's this new and vulnerable little human being in bed with you two that he has to watch out for now. Many guys complain that they can't effectively sleep or adjust to co-sleeping because they are so worried about rolling over or accidentally smothering their infant. That certainly can be scary, especially when you are a new sleep-deprived dad!
If your guy is worried about the downsides of co-sleeping, consider moving your sweet baby out of the bed and into a crib within the same room as the two of you. That will make the transition to their crib in their own room much easier later on, and ensure that you and your partner get some actual sleep.
11 Slippery When Wet
Bathing a fragile little newborn can be pretty scary for new dads! It probably has to do with handling your sweet baby while they are slippery (which totally makes sense!). There's typically a lot of crying involved as well, which can make the experience much more nerve-wracking for him. My own husband had issues getting comfortable with bathing our little guy, but practice makes perfect and eventually, he had it down!
The really great part about bathing a new baby is that you need to wait until their umbilical cord stump has completely fallen off before giving them an actual bath. Up until that day (which is around 1-2 weeks after birth), sponge baths are recommended since that umbilical cord needs to stay dry! That extra time will give your husband a chance to bond and hold your baby, which might make the experience of bathing them a little easier on everyone. If your man seems nervous or straight up refuses to try giving your little one a bath because he's confused about the right way to do it, try to help him by letting him watch you.
10 How Can He Feed The Baby Without The Right Equipment?
Isn't it hilarious when your baby starts rooting while other people hold them? Rooting is a newborn reflex that occurs when your baby turns towards whoever is holding them and tries to suckle. This is really funny when it happens, but can make things a little confusing and weird for dad. It might just be that he has no clue on how he can help you with this mom-dominated task.
While dad can't help breastfeed your little guy or gal, he can certainly help with burping or bottle storage and cleaning (if you're breastfeeding), and bottle feeding and formula-mixing (if you are formula feeding). This will really help with those dreaded night feedings when you are exhausted and need some rest! Let daddy take over with a bottle of some pumped breastmilk or formula.
9 Babies Can't Talk, So How Can Dad Bond?
Guys want to bond with their children as much as women do, however they often aren't sure on just how to do that. Babies can't really talk, and they cry to communicate their needs. This can make things really confusing for dads, because they feel as if everything they're doing is wrong (due to the crying). They hand the baby back over to you and throw their hands up in the air because they feel like they don't know what they're doing. And then they joke about bonding when the little one can actually talk, or starts school. But bonding with your baby is just as important for dads as it is for moms and can help them speak earlier and feel more confident later in life.
Encourage him to bond with a little skin-to-skin (take off his shirt and lay your diapered newborn on his chest).
8 When The Baby Won't Stop Crying
If you are unlucky enough to experience colic, grab yourself a bottle of wine and weep silently into your pillow. Plenty of moms have been there, done that, and it isn't pleasant AT ALL! Dads especially don't know how to help in this common scenario. Colicky babies cry for hours on end, and no amount of car rides, swinging, rocking, bottle feeding, singing, or diaper changes will help.
In this case, the best thing moms can do is to let your man know that you need help! Colicky babies steal a lot of patience and cause plenty of exhaustion, and communication between the two of you will really help navigate this trying time in parenthood together. Just remember that 50% of colic in babies ends by 3 months, so dad will have an easier time bonding with your sweet baby after those first 90 days.
7 Why Are There So Many Snaps?!
Dressing a baby is like an art to some moms. There's pants, onesies, sweaters, socks, booties, mittens, hats, shorts, swaddles, etc. The cutest outfits on a newborn usually have three pieces, and almost always include snaps. Dressing (and undressing) a baby for dads...can be a nightmare! It certainly is entertaining when we try to watch our guys dress the baby. It isn't rocket science, after all, but it confuses the bejesus out of our guys - especially after they are all flustered from changing one of those poop-splosion diapers (you know, where the mess runs up and out and everywhere?).
Having your man watch you for the first couple outfit changes, or allowing him to dress the baby in easier 1-2 piece outfits is probably best to start! Simpler outfits will probably be easier for your tired mom brain, as well.
6 How-To: Car Seat Installation
The hospitals these days won't let you even leave with your baby unless you carry them out in a car seat, and have it properly installed in your vehicle. This is incredibly safe and necessary - but confusing as all heck. Which is understandable, because car seats can be kind of a pain, even with a detailed picture-drawn manual. They make it look so easy to install in all of the pictures and directions, but actually harnessing the car seat correctly in your vehicle takes a couple tries.
To reduce the amount of stress involved with installing the car seat, try to encourage him to install it when you are about 6 months along. This way, if you happen to go into labor earlier than expected, your car seat is ready to go. The NHTSA is an amazing resource for car seat selection, positioning, and installation if you need any help.
There will be some huge learning curves for both of you, so here are some ways mom can help dad fit into his new role a little better...
5 Be Patient And Understanding
This whole mom and dad thing is new to both of you! And just like he couldn't read your mind before your baby's birth (although, kudos to him for handling those pregnancy hormones like a champ!), your guy can't read your mind now. So all of those worries and the pressures of being a mom to this demanding little person are lost on him until you actually tell him how you're feeling. Just remember to be extra patient with him as he navigates through fatherhood because the newborn stage is a crazy one! It will benefit both of you to talk through your day and delegate certain duties between the two of you to ease the strain and exhaustion a newborn can cause. You'll probably end up laughing about the amount of sleep you both got, and invest in a couple bottles of your favorite wine for the first few years of parenthood.
4 Include Dad At First Pediatric Appointment
The very first appointment at your baby's pediatric office takes place a few days after birth and is a great introduction to you and your baby's doctor. At this appointment, you can ask questions, voice concerns, and get to know the person you'll be calling late at night with that weird question about a weird rash on your child's skin at 3 a.m. Bringing daddy to this appointment can help him get familiar with your doctor on a personal level as well, and allow him to ask questions he might have now that the baby is home and settled in.
This also makes him feel more important and involved in baby's life. Who knows, he might even enjoy taking your little one to the doctor during those tougher appointments when they require vaccinations or blood work ;).
3 Read Books Together While You're Pregnant
There's nothing like living with a newborn - it's no walk in the park, that's for sure! And there's only so much prep you can do to truly prepare yourself for this new chapter in life. Reading up on your pregnancy, your developing baby, and newborn care together can really help the both of you understand what's to come. These books can help dad understand the basics of bathing, feeding, and even swaddling. Swaddling will be your BEST friend, so if he can figure that out, he deserves a big ol' hug!
The key is to make him feel involved as much as possible, as well as valued. Just be careful not to hit up Barnes and Noble and bring him six books worth of reading to figure out overnight (that can be super overwhelming!).
2 Be Open About Your Own Needs
Try not to expect the world of him right off the bat without giving him the benefit of the doubt. Do yourself (and your man) a favor, and just communicate your needs! You need just as much attention as your baby does, and letting him know what that is will help everyone out in the end. Need a shower? Just let him know! Need a nap? Tell him! He can't help unless he knows what you need from him, and men typically need us ladies to spell things out for them, anyway. This newborn stage is NO exception. They literally have no idea what's going on and can use all the help in the world to get adjusted to how the birth has changed your life in many ways as well.
1 Keep Him Updated As Baby's Schedule Changes
As far as feeding, changing, napping, and playing, a baby's schedule will change multiple times over the course of their first couple years of life. To keep you both on track (especially if you are requesting one of those much-needed mommy naps you'll be needing!), make sure dad knows the baby's schedule. Whether you need to write it down for him or involve him in a certain part each day, it will help him tremendously so he can best help you and your little one. Allow some wiggle room in this schedule if you are going out with a friend and leaving him alone because things don't always go as planned when daddy's left in charge. There will probably be more play time when the baby is supposed to be napping, but your baby will do good to let him know they're hungry so no bottles are missed ;).
Sources: NHTSA, Parenting