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Being An Involved Father/Partner

Need help?

Check out the 24 hour crib-side assistance manual (external link) to help you figure out your newborn.

Taking care of a small baby may seem awkward at first but over time you will become more comfortable. As your baby grows you will develop a special relationship. Spend lots of time with your newborn to get to know your baby.

Even though it may seem like your partner is in charge, here are some ways you can be an involved father/ partner:

  • Love, feed, play with and protect your baby to promote healthy brain development.
  • Do everyday activities with your baby, like bathing or bedtime. It helps to strengthen the attachment between the two of you.
  • Learn to read the signals that tell you when your baby needs you. You may not always know what is wrong, but your job is to try to comfort your baby.
  • Make eye contact and talk to your baby. A gentle voice may comfort your baby.

There are many great resources on Dad Central (external link)

Exhaustion is likely with a new baby

Your baby will not sleep through the night for several months. This can be hard on new parents. Newborn babies wake up to feed every few hours. Eventually, they will start sleeping longer. In the meantime, try to take turns at sleeping-in, go to bed earlier (and not necessarily at the same time), and nap. If one partner is rested, the other partner can function better.

When will we ever have sex again?

It is important to remember that after having a baby, your partner needs time to recover. Good communication and not pressuring or rushing your partner helps. Don’t forget to use birth control. Condoms and foam are a good choice if you are both ready for sex before seeing your health care provider at around six weeks. Your partner may be hesitant at first. However, with time (and some sleep), this shall pass.

Your relationship

For a happy family, it is important to talk to each other and maintain your relationship as a couple. Talk about something (anything) other than the baby.

Remember, your partner may be at home with your baby all day and might appreciate an “adult” connection with you. You may be worried about balancing work and home. This may be a time to look at your options and talk to your partner about them. Plan to spend time together. Go on a date.

Dads/partners can suffer from postpartum mood disorders

New research is emerging regarding postpartum depression in dads/partners. Studies indicate that approximately 10.4% of co-parents will experience depression in the first year postpartum. However, if the mother/birthing parent also has postpartum mood disorders, the incidence of depression in the co-parent increases to 25% to 50%.

Typically the onset of postpartum depression in partners occurs later in the postpartum period, unlike the mother/birthing parent, who usually exhibit symptoms in the early postpartum period.

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  • is best for baby
  • is free
  • is portable and requires no mixing or heating
  • makes for a smoother running baby (breast milk is easy to digest)
  • boosts the immune system which guards against illness (just like rust proofing)
  • makes for a quieter operation (less likely to be colicky)
  • lets baby eat as much as he/she needs
  • reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), infections and obesity later in life.

For more information on breastfeeding, including where to get help check out the Halton Baby Friendly Initiative (external link) website.

Father’s/ partner’s support is very important for successful breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding protects and contributes to your baby’s optimal health and well-being.

To make enough breast milk, your partner needs:

  • Rest
  • Sleep
  • Food
Your help is vital. To help keep the breast milk flowing make sure to take care of:
  • Cooking (which also includes getting take-out from your partner's favourite restaurant)
  • Cleaning (yes, the vacuum)
  • Answering the phone
  • Entertaining guests (or telling them to come back another time)
  • Shopping
  • Doing the laundry and dishes
  • all the things you did before

Dads/partners can help with breastfeeding by:

  • Supporting your partner and tell them they’re doing a great job
  • Learning about breastfeeding together and getting help early
  • Running interference with public, family, meddling neighbours, or whoever challenges the decision to breastfeed
  • Trying to help your partner relax and get extra sleep
  • Doing whatever your partner asks (could be anything at any time of the day or night)
  • Feeding your partner
  • Bringing baby to your partner
  • Helping with positioning of baby at breast
  • Checking baby’s latch (baby’s attachment to your partner’s breast)
  • Burping baby (though keep in mind, breastfed babies don’t typically swallow a lot of air, so don’t need a lot of burping)
  • Changing baby when asked or whenever needed
  • Holding baby after feedings to help settle him/her to sleep
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Most babies cry often. Crying is an important way that he/she communicates to you before they can speak. Figuring out why can be hard – it is a matter of trial and error. What works today may not work tomorrow or the next day, but your need to show your baby they can trust you by picking him/her up and comforting them every time he/she cries.

How to calm a crying baby:

  • Cuddle or wrap baby up in a blanket
  • While holding baby, gently bounce or walk with the baby while speaking softly
  • Whisper in your baby’s ear
  • Go for a walk or car ride
  • Be silly – sing or make funny faces
  • Holding baby skin to skin

More information about babies and crying

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Now that your baby has arrived you will want to make sure to keep him/her safe. Here are some things that you need to consider:

Adapted with permission from The Region of Peel (external link)

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