As a new father, you may feel overwhelmed and you may even feel like you are just not doing enough. Don’t sweat it, helping with a few small things can go a long way.
Newborn babies and their mothers share an unquestionable bond in those first weeks after birth, but what about new fathers? What is Dad’s role in the first few weeks after Baby is born?
After the baby is born, Mommy’s role is obvious, with feedings round the clock, lullabies, and lots and lots of cuddles. New daddies, however, might feel a bit lost, not knowing exactly what to do. If Dad had a job description for the first few weeks of Baby’s life, what would that look like?
According to Jeanne-Marie Paynell, Montessori teacher and early child development expert, a father’s job description in the first 8 weeks after Baby’s birth is pretty robust and extremely important.
Dad Becomes “Protector”
Paynell says that after the baby is born, a father should become the “Protector” of the bond between mother and child. In the first 8 weeks, Mother and Baby have a symbiotic relationship: The baby relies on Mom for food and comfort, and the baby helps ground Mom in her new role in life. New fathers serve as a protective buffer between them and the rest of the world while they nurture this bond.
Ways Dad Can Protect the Mother-Child Bond
- Answer the door when visitors come to call.
- Gracefully turn away visitors when it isn’t a good time for Mom or for Baby.
- Take pictures and video of Baby and share through internet, mail, or in person, so friends and relatives can still enjoy the new baby without disturbing Mom.
- Help Mom with physical care, like feeding, bathing and changing.
Dads, this doesn’t mean newborns and their mothers have to stay completely isolated in these first few weeks, but if you take your cues from Mom and Baby, you’ll know when they’re ready to entertain visitors and when they just need quiet time.
Dad Needs to Build His Own Bond with Baby
Dads aren’t relegated to only protecting the mother-baby bond. Fathers also need to establish and nurture their own bonds with their children. Paynell says this starts by accepting the pregnancy, and then by accepting the baby.
Fathers can continue to strengthen their bond with baby in those first few weeks by doing the following:
- Establish routines of care with feeding, bathing, changing, putting to sleep, etc.
- Speak to the baby often to help with language development