For decades fathers have been portrayed in the media as incompetent, foolish, and emotionally disconnected from their families and often in need of rescue by mom. Fortunately, these images have started to change and we’re starting to see more portrayals of dads as smart, nurturing, and emotionally healthy parents.
Nonetheless, as a new dad, you may still be left asking yourself, “Can I really do this?” Of course, you can! Here are five things you can do to become a more confident dad.
Remember your presence matters.
While we often view moms as the quarterback in this game called parenting, a father’s presence matters. Research has shown that a father’s involvement in his child’s life can increase the child’s chances of academic success and reduce the chances of delinquency and substance abuse.
Your kid needs you, Dad. And the more confident you are, the better. Researchers from Oxford University found that the more confident a father is in his parenting abilities the less likely his child is to have behavior problems later in life.
Learn the basics.
Commit to being an equal partner in caretaking. To do so, you need to learn the basics. Learn to bathe and burp your baby and how to properly swaddle your little one. Change the diapers, clean up the spit up, and help with those middle-of-the-night feedings.
Bond with your baby.
Many things about parenting are hard – really hard – but bonding with your baby doesn’t have to be. The CDC offers several simple ways you can feel close to your baby and help with his development at the same time.
- Talk and sing to your baby while looking into her eyes. She will find your voice calming and this can even help with your baby’s brain development and could foster an appreciation for music.
- When your baby coos or makes sounds, answer him by repeating the sounds and adding words. This will help your baby learn to use language.
- Read to your baby as this will also help her develop and understand language.
- Skin-to-skin cuddle time with your baby is important to help her feel safe and secure.
- Have playtime with your baby every day.
- Use a front carrier or sling to carry your baby close to you as you go for walks or do activities around the house.
- Praise your baby and shower her with loving attention.
Don’t forget to have fun.
Get creative and figure out how you can modify some of your favorite pastimes for dad and baby time. If you love to read, buy lots of books you can read to your child. If you miss going to concerts, turn on some music and dance with your baby.
Take a break.
This is easier said than done, but don’t forget to make time for yourself. Try to build personal time into your schedule at least once a week and help mom do the same. As new parents, you want to devote every single minute of every single day to your bundle of joy, but you both need time to recharge.
Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup.