To most parents, the idea that mom is typically the primary caregiver isn’t a big deal. After all, the baby probably just came out of mom’s body and will want to stay near her for at least a couple months. Besides, if mom is breastfeeding, she’s the default nutrition provider, too. But that doesn’t mean dads can’t be hands-on parents and bond with the baby just as much as mom. In fact, it’s disappointing to know that so many dads aren’t allowed the opportunity to bond with their babies just because they didn’t give birth.
While dad shouldn’t take away from new moms’ bonding time with newborns, he deserves his time, too.
And although society seems to think most new dads are incapable of putting a onesie on right, many dads take offense at the idea that fatherhood is about playing with the baby when he gets home from work and leaving mom to do the rest.
Although it’s less common, some dads are even sole caregivers while moms work, or if they’re single from the start. The truth is, most dads are just as capable as moms, and spending time alone with the baby is the only way they can prove themselves to doubters like society in general (and their mothers-in-law).
15 Daddy Duty 101
One dad reflected back on his experiences as a new dad when his son and daughter-in-law welcomed their first child. He wrote for Live About that at six weeks old, the new dad hadn’t spent any time alone with his daughter. Yet, grandma had already babysat for a few hours for the new parents.
Unfortunately, it’s common for new dads to not be left alone with their offspring for weeks if not months.
But, as this proud grandpa writes, eventually dad will be left alone with the tot. To that end, he recommends knowing where the diapers and wipes are, knowing how to feed the baby, setting a timer for feeding and diaper changes, and not planning on doing anything except being with the baby. Although taking care of a baby is a lot of work, this advice may be a little basic for dads already in the trenches.
14 One Night Dad Turned Full Time Father
Back when Ben’s son Mack was only a few months old, the then-working dad was on baby duty for a full 24 hours. Mom had a business trip out of town, so after grandma and grandpa babysat during the day, it was dad’s turn on his own. Fortunately for Ben, his easygoing tot wasn’t too much trouble. Diaper duty didn’t involve anything explosive, Mack didn’t seem to have a meltdown when he realized mom was gone, and no injuries were had by dad or son.
Although Ben wrote on Area Voices that he had a hard time getting Mack to bed at night, to that we say, good luck with that. Kids are notorious for not sleeping through the night, especially when they’re infants, but it probably didn’t get any better from there for Ben, mom, or baby. Still, Ben later become a stay-at-home dad, so things went well enough.
13 Confident Dad Nearly Taps Out
When his son was three weeks old, Cameron’s wife decided to go for lunch with her friends. That meant Cameron would be home alone with his son for the first time. But, he wrote for DAD, he wasn’t worried. He was confident in his daddy skills and had already dealt with pee, poop, vomit, and more. He even had bedtime rocking down pat.
But once mom left, dad didn’t realize the calm he was experiencing was only leading up to a big storm.
For at least the first 45 minutes, the baby slept. When he woke up, the pair watched TV together. Then the crying started. While dad didn’t specify how long mom had been gone, it turned out the baby was hungry, so the crying only escalated. Then mom arrived home seemingly just in the nick of time to nurse the baby.
12 New Dad Confessions
One mom writing about motherhood at A Cup of Jo turned to her husband for his reflections on fatherhood. Among dad Alex’s confessions were that he didn’t bond with baby right away. This is no surprise to moms who struggle with feeling unattached, but it’s likely more common with dads. He also explained that spending time alone with the baby was profound.
Alex noted that while he felt “so lost overall” with dealing with a newborn, he spent four hours alone with son Toby one night and got to choose the first song his son would ever listen to. He told his wife it was like he “had a hand in shaping” the baby’s destiny. If that isn’t a great sales pitch for letting dad have alone time with the tot we don’t know what is.
11 First-Time Parent Surprises
Although he thought he was prepared for fatherhood, dad Jeff wrote for Redbook that he was really surprised by a long list of things as he and his wife welcomed their daughter into the world. He had no clue how disgusting meconium is, for example, but was right there when it happened and had to deal with it alongside mom.
He also notes that as a first-time dad, everyone gave him unsolicited advice on parenting, which obviously he didn’t need because he already had the new-parent panic routine down pat.
There’s nothing worse than thinking you’re a bad parent, and new fatherhood, of course, makes every man doubt his abilities. Thankfully, this dad who can’t wear a wedding band because it irritates him can hold his napping infant daughter for hours with no ill effects. That’s right, dads- cuddles make all the puke worth it.
10 Post Propels This Dad To Internet Fame
Now-veteran dad Chris told Today that when his wife left him alone with the baby for the first time, she gave him a long list of instructions to follow. The smart-aleck dad made his own notes with comments like “feed baby” and “don’t feed the baby to the cat.” Although most first-time moms are understandably nervous to leave their babies for the first time, most dads likely don’t need reminders to actually feed the child.
As it turns out, Chris did his job well enough that he later became a stay-at-home dad to the couple’s two kids. He told Today that he still catches criticism from strangers because people seem to think dads’ parenting skills are only good on weekends. Joke’s on them because this dad even made a blog about parenting and caught social media’s attention with his reflection-filled Post-It notes.
9 Serious Parenting Mishap Takes Big Risk
One mom in Pennsylvania had two young sons already when she gave birth to a daughter at home. Unfortunately, mom required immediate medical attention, so the father called an ambulance. Once she arrived at the hospital for surgery, she told the medical staff that the baby was at home.
When police arrived at the home, the father was gone. A 22-month-old boy and a 1-year-old boy were both in the house with their newborn sister.
The older toddler was closed in a wooden crate, which the father admitted he used often to keep the little boy from “crawling all over the place,” the LA Times reported. While the children were otherwise in good condition, the father was arrested and charged with child endangerment. Thankfully, this was a rare case of dad opting to leave his children home alone rather than stay home alone with them.
8 Crying Jag Makes For Mad Dad
New dad Dan wrote for Family Life that in his first 8 months as a father, he learned many lessons. The first, he explained, was that survival was the main thing. The second was the fact that anger may seep into your days as you deal with incessant crying. Dan explained that the first time he stayed home alone all day with his son Isaac, the baby cried the entire time.
Isaac cried as his mom left and stopped about five minutes before she got home, Dan wrote, and mom was gone a full eight hours. At the same time, Dan noted, he learned to appreciate the little moments that went right. He wanted to be there “hand in hand” with his wife, he said, so he focused on staying in each moment and spending time with his son- even if the little guy didn’t appreciate it at the time.
7 Baby Bonding Begins Early
When John’s son Riley was a newborn, he tried to help his wife out as much as possible. But inevitably, the moment the baby began crying, John’s wife would come running. While it annoyed him at the time, he wrote for Today’s Parent,
he soon realized that mom’s behavior was about her, not dad’s parenting abilities. Moms are under so much strain to “get it right,” John explained, that she was acting out of self-preservation.
As a more experienced dad of three, John highlighted the importance of time spent caring for babies and getting to know them. Dads that don’t feed their babies, interact with them, and comfort them often don’t feel as connected to the tots as moms do. To that end, he suggests even as little as 20 to 30 minutes alone with a recently-fed baby to jump-start dad’s parenting skills.
6 Early Mornings Equal Better Bonds
Writing for Esquire, new dad Adam gave a rundown of his first child’s first 90 days. It started with interrupted sleep and early mornings with the new bundle, but Adam got his alone time in with the baby on day two. Later came eating meals in shifts and dealing with nonstop crying that made both parents lose their tempers in frustration.
But then came finding songs that would help settle the baby, learning to deal with the attention that a cute baby attracts in public and stress between partners that they take out on each other since it’s not fair to blame the baby. But in the end, Adam wrote, having a child is still the top experience he’s had in life, and it seems his bonding with baby helped him get past the tough spots.
5 Party All Night Parenting
Although moms often receive the advice to keep babies’ midnight waking periods quiet and calm, dad Geoff didn’t get that memo. In fact, he spent his alone time with his first daughter essentially encouraging her to party it up half the night- every night. He wrote for Parenting that at first,
he took over nighttime parenting duties because his wife had nearly become a zombie on four hours of sleep or less. But then he found that it was actually fun.
Geoff would stay up for two or more hours with his infant daughter, watching TV and eating snacks while she played blocks. Though it’s not most moms’ idea of a baby-friendly activity, this mom was too busy sleeping to notice. And although he eventually realized he was setting up his baby for nighttime fiestas, Geoff maintains that he truly bonded with his daughter during these rendezvous.
4 Not All Dads Are Dunces
While dad Dale wrote for The Baby Corner that men are perfectly capable of caring for their offspring, he expresses doubts over their ability to care for little ones long-term. In fact, his advice for new dads includes getting together supplies like diapers, toys, baby wipes, and emergency contact information for mom- either the baby’s or your own.
While it’s nice that Dale is trying to help other dads be prepared, it sounds like the worst thing that happened when he was home alone with a baby was getting peed on, twice. He also suggests not making plans for doing anything else while you’re watching the baby, which isn’t exactly realistic, especially in comparison to many dads’ expectations about what stay-at-home moms should be doing all day. We’ll forgive him though- at least he realizes that his input is necessary for raising healthy and happy kids.
3 Equal Rights For Dads
Dad Joey has strong opinions about dads’ responsibilities with child-rearing, as he wrote for a blog post on Baby Center. He explained that when his dad was left alone with the baby for the first time (no word on whether it was Joey or another sibling) if dad couldn’t find the diapers, he’d make do with a towel or even a blow dryer. But Joey’s point is that dads can make do and handle things too.
As he wrote, if there isn’t a direct safety issue with leaving the kids with dad, why not let him parent, too?
“Isolating and monitoring” a dad’s interaction with his kid just makes it harder on moms, he notes.
Obviously, Joey knows more about parenting than the dads who are scared to be alone with their tots, but he shared instructional YouTube videos to be sure readers get the basics of feeding and changing.
2 Wishing For More Time
New dad Mike wasn’t so sure about his son when the baby was first born. He told Parenting that he almost thought the baby was a mistake, but that the feeling passed relatively quickly. While most moms won’t be surprised by this, since PPD is unfortunately so common, it’s not so often that it happens to dads.
Still, Mike explained, taking special time during the nighttime feedings with his son helped him make the connection to his child. Further, he also took a whole month off from work for paternity leave once his wife went back to her job full-time. Apparently, it was Mike’s first time one-on-one with his little guy, and he was left wanting more afterward. Although many moms are hesitant to give dads so much responsibility, these dads’ stories show that they’re more than capable.
1 Mom In The Way
Mom Lyz’s husband gave her an eye roll the first time she left him alone with their 5-week-old daughter. Lyz wrote for Babble that she made a careful list of how to handle the newborn’s crying and how to prepare breastmilk. But half of her list included things that her husband had discovered calmed the baby, and he was nonplussed when she cried for hours, Lyz explained.
Although she eventually realized how silly it was to ‘instruct’ her husband on how to care for their daughter, Lyz understood that it was partly society’s expectations of her that caused her to feel her husband couldn’t hang.
Even after acknowledging her own insecurities, Lyz wrote that she still hung over her husband’s shoulder as he changed diapers and dressed the baby, proving that some dads just can’t win even if they do an amazing job parenting.
References: LiveAbout.com, BenHanson.Areavoices.com, Directadvicefordads.com, Cupofjo.com, Redbookmag.com, Today.com, LATimes.com, FamilyLife.com, Todaysparent.com, Esquire.com, Parenting.com, TheBabyCorner.com, BabyCenter.com, Parenting, Babble.com