First-time dad tips—how to be a hands-on dad (2023)

You’re a first-time dad, you rock! It’s a great feeling, but you might be wondering how dads can help with newborns.

You don’t have to just make endless cups of tea and feel like a spare part; there are plenty of ways you can bond with baby and support your partner at the same time. Follow these new-dad tips for advice on everything from how dads can help during labour to father-baby bonding, and get ready to shine in your new role as a hands-on dad!

1. Prepare yourself for the birth

There’s plenty of advice out there about what to expect as a new dad and parent so doing a spot of revision now before baby arrives will help you feel prepared. If you want to offer more practical help to your partner you could take pregnancy classes together—as well as all the practical advice, you’ll get a new-found appreciation of what your partner’s body is about to go through! The classes will also offer advice about how dads can help during labour which can really help with the all-important father-bonding with your baby during pregnancy. Taking classes with other parents-to-be is a great way to meet other dads-to-be and parents too. You’ll be grateful for those 2am WhatsApp chats to get you through the night, and you might even make friends for life!

2. Wondering how dads can help with newborns?

Welcome to your new world of nappy changes, baby bathing and trying to soothe your little one when they cry. You can play an active role right from the start and put your baby-care skills into action. Taking the night shift to give your partner a break can be such a big help, and if your partner is breastfeeding, you could burp (the baby that is!) and get them settled afterwards. And if your bottle-feeding then this is a great opportunity for to enjoy some twilight feeds together and encourage father-baby bonding. It’s those sorts of moments, bonding over the early morning feeds, that you’ll never forget.

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3. Learn your baby’s cues

Suddenly you’ve got a new little person living with you! It will take time to learn what your baby’s cries, gurgles and coos mean. You’ll soon spot the baby hunger cues and baby tired cues so you can jump in before the crying starts. Signs for a hungry baby can include sucking on hands, rooting and smacking lips, while jerky limb movements, and a glazed stare can all be baby tired cues. Your mission is to become a master at reading baby cues and be ready with the nappy when it’s needed!

4. Get lots of skin-to-skin contact between dad and baby

Did you know that holding your naked baby on your bare chest (inside your shirt if it’s cold) brings so many benefits? That closeness with you can regulate your baby’s heart rate and temperature, can relax them and help you to bond. Keeping a nappy on (your baby obviously) will help avoid any nasty surprises. An excellent time for a bit of dad skin-to-skin contact is after you’ve bathed your baby, first thing in the morning when you can scoop them into bed with you, or during bottle-feeds. It’s such a wonderful time, and you’ll enjoy the father-baby bonding just as much as your baby does.

5. Talking to your newborn

Every word your baby hears helps develop their language skills and strengthen your relationship. So as well as reading to your baby, give them a running commentary of what you’re doing, no matter how mundane the task might be—“I’m just looking for a cloth to wipe up this spit-up”, as well as whispering sweet nothings and telling them how much you love them of course! Even reading out the football scores or lines from your favourite films will keep the happy gurgles and coos coming.

First-time dad tips—how to be a hands-on dad (1)

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6. Offer breastfeeding support

Okay so you may not have breasts, but there are plenty examples of dads supporting breastfeeding that you can follow. Whether it’s making your partner comfortable with pillows and back rubs, bringing her a glass of water without her asking (mums can get very thirsty as their milk starts to flow), or simply listening if she’s struggling, you can be there for her throughout. Breastfeeding can be challenging, particularly in the early days, so you could find out about breastfeeding support services if your partner needs help. Just be there for your partner and reassure them they are doing great.

7. Take care of your relationship after baby has come along

As we expect you’ve already discovered having a baby is a life-changing experience! Sometimes all those plans you and your partner made before baby came along might not pan out the way you thought. You’re also going to be absolutely exhausted. Whatever you do keep talking and being honest with each other, it’s the best way to stop the pressure of being new parents affect your relationship. Yes, there’s a new VIP in town, but make sure you tell your partner what you’re thinking, ie you’re in awe of them and what they’re doing! Lots of pampering, massages and giving them breaks all help to alleviate new parents’ relationship problems. Everyone’s different; you may feel you need more time adjusting to life as the three of you, so don’t be shy about saying no to uninvited guests. Read our checklist on how to handle visitors after giving birth for more tips.

8. Self-care for dads

Being a new parent is tough on you as a dad too, and self-care for dads is a real thing! It’s vitally important that you take good care of yourself so you can take the best care of your family. Getting out and about and doing some exercise (it’s incredible what a good workout pushing a buggy up a steep hill can be), sleeping when you can and keeping in touch with friends and family will keep your dad energy topped up. Talking to other dads can help, and they might have their own first-time dad tips to offer too. If you and your partner can enjoy a bit of self-care time together, then that’s even better.

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9. Sharing household duties

It’s amazing what a bit of hoovering and housework can achieve! In the first few weeks after your baby’s birth, you may well be taking on the bulk of the household chores. It doesn’t take much to help and support your partner; you could surprise them by cooking their favourite meal or getting a takeaway in so you can all take a break. Do the chores around the house, after all your partner will be exhausted from weeks of feeding and nurturing. Here’s our top advice for new dads… just do what you do best, putting your other half’s needs first and being a great husband or partner! As you get into the rhythm of things, have a chat about how you’re splitting parenting responsibilities and sharing household duties so you’re clear and happy about who’s doing what.

10. Take lots of photos!

Babies change so much so quickly. The first weeks and months of parenthood will fly by in a blur, but keep your phoned charged as there will be lots of photo opps. Whether it’s pics of just your baby, or your partner and your little one, keep snapping away throughout the day. You can never have too many pics of your beautiful new arrival. Selfies with you and your gorgeous son or daughter are a must too. And no, this doesn’t have to be to styled and posed to post on social media, but just so you and your partner can look back in years to come and remember that time when you became parents.

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How do you become a hands on father? ›

How to be a hands-on dad
  1. Memorable meal-times. Many parents may tell you that mealtimes are memorable, although not always for the right reasons. ...
  2. Bathing and nappies. ...
  3. Bedtime stories. ...
  4. Be present. ...
  5. Be supportive. ...
  6. Be a good partner.

What are the 3 roles of a father? ›

Through almost every studied culture, fathers have assumed three primary roles: the protector, the provider, and the disciplinarian. Before we discuss each of these roles, it is important to note that in many two-parent families today, mothers are fulfilling these three roles as much as fathers.

What is the best age to be dad? ›

Both genders are most likely to approve of women becoming mothers between the ages of 26 and 30 (89% of men/92% of women) and for men to become fathers at 31 to 35 (89%/93%).

How do I succeed as a dad? ›

5 Tips for How to Be a Successful Dad
  1. Keep your hobbies. ...
  2. Maintain important relationships with your friends. ...
  3. Love your spouse and show it (yes, in front of your kids) ...
  4. Show respect for your kids. ...
  5. Appropriately Discipline your children.

What makes a strong father? ›

It's about being consistently available for our kids through good times and bad. Being personally engaged in our kids' lives, interests, hopes and dreams on a daily basis. Being curious and attentive requires us to put our distractions to one side. Showing compassion, hope and belief when our child needs it most.

What are the skills of a father? ›

Dad Skills
  • Make Family Time a Priority. ...
  • Trade Harsh Discipline for Guidance. ...
  • Read with Your Child. ...
  • Model a Healthy, Respectful Relationship with the Other Parent. ...
  • Listen to Their Concerns and Take Them Seriously. ...
  • Share Traditional “Mom” Duties. ...
  • Make Your Own Emotional Health a Priority.
13 May 2020

What new dads must know? ›

10 Things Every New Dad Needs To Know
  • Use Your Instincts. ...
  • Yours Is Not the World's First Baby. ...
  • It Takes A Lot to Make a Life. ...
  • Your Child Is You. ...
  • Babies Are Weird Looking and Uninteresting. ...
  • Having Kids Is a Job That Does Not End. ...
  • Lead With Responsibility. ...
  • Daughters Are Like Sons, and Sons Can Be Like Daughters.
11 Jan 2021

What new dads should expect? ›

Making Time for Mom and Baby
  • Pitch in with baby care. New babies seem so tiny and fragile that you may feel more comfortable hanging back and letting your partner handle things. ...
  • Connect with your partner. Take every chance you get to reconnect. ...
  • Remember that your work is important. ...
  • Limit hours at work, if possible.
17 Sept 2014

Why is it hard to be a new dad? ›

Becoming a dad is a life-changing event, but it's also a challenging one too. As you scramble to adjust to your new life, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. Newborns require round-the-clock attention, sleep deprivation can hit you hard, while the financial strain of endless baby supplies can mount up fast.

What are the 10 responsibilities of a father? ›

  • Father is Always a Protector. Children feel safe and secured when they have their father around. ...
  • Opens Up the World for the Kids. ...
  • Unconditional Love. ...
  • Show Love and Respect for the Partner. ...
  • Spending Quality Time. ...
  • Teaching Discipline. ...
  • Teaching Accountability. ...
  • Involve In the Studies.

What is the rule of the father? ›

Etymology and usage. Patriarchy literally means "the rule of the father" and comes from the Greek πατριάρχης (patriarkhēs), "father or chief of a race", which is a compound of πατριά (patria), "lineage, descent, family, fatherland" (from πατήρ patēr, "father") and ἀρχή (arkhē), "domination, authority, sovereignty".

What is the role of a true father? ›

Children look to their fathers to lay down the rules and enforce them. They also look to their fathers to provide a feeling of security, both physical and emotional. Children want to make their fathers proud, and an involved father promotes inner growth and strength.

How old can men have kids? ›

Although most men are able to have children well into their 50s and beyond, it becomes gradually more difficult after the age of 40 . There are many reasons for this, including: Sperm quality tends to decrease with age.

What age should men have kids? ›

The moral: Just like women, it's time to start thinking about kids when you turn 30. Fisch typically recommends trying even earlier in your late 20s, but having a healthy baby at age 40 is absolutely possible.

What is the oldest dad to have a baby? ›

In a random international sample of 11,548 men confirmed to be biological fathers by DNA paternity testing, the oldest father was found to be 66 years old at the birth of his child; the ratio of DNA-confirmed versus DNA-rejected paternity tests around that age is in agreement with the notion of general male infertility ...

What is a perfect father? ›

They're the ones who go above and beyond for their families and are considerate of how other people feel or what they might need. They take initiative, and don't give up even if something doesn't work out on the first try. Good dads are involved in family life and regularly show their gratitude.

How can I be a better father than mine? ›

  1. 1) Respect Your Children's Mother. One of the best things you, as a dad, can do for your children is to respect their mother. ...
  2. 2) Spend Time With Your Children. ...
  3. 3) Listen First, Talk Second. ...
  4. 4) Discipline With Love. ...
  5. 5) Be A Role Model. ...
  6. 6) Be A Teacher. ...
  7. 7) Eat Together As A Family. ...
  8. 8) Read To Your Children.
2 Jul 2014

What does a good dad look like? ›

A good father teaches his children how to respect their mother, and this he does by respecting his partner. He honors her views and does not argue with her in front of the kids. This sends the right message to the children that their parents work together, and they need to respect them both equally.

What do new dads struggle with? ›

In the postpartum period, it is easy to focus on mothers but, fathers may also need support, they also have a lot to come to terms with and deal with. The support they might need can be in relation to sleep deprivation, financial worries, a change in responsibilities or changes in relationship dynamics.

How much sleep do new dads get? ›

The survey found that the majority of new parents are getting between 5 and 6 hours of sleep each night. Sadly, no surprises there. On average, each new parent loses a staggering 109 minutes of sleep every night for the first year after having a baby.

How old is the average new father? ›

The study, published 30 August in Human Reproduction , used a federal repository of nearly 170 million birth records to find that the average dad is now 30.9 years old at their child's birth—and that 9% of newborns' fathers are at least 40 years old.

Can a baby feel his father? ›

Baby may start to know when their father is touching mom's belly. Babies can sense touch from anyone, but they can also sense when touch (and voice) is familiar.

Is it normal for New Dads cry? ›

But one of the biggest reasons men cry more after becoming dads has to do with biology: You're losing testosterone and gaining more prolactin, vasopressin, and oxytocin . Those are neuro-transmitter hormones that help moms create milk for breastfeeding, and promote bonding with baby. (Don't worry.

Does having a baby change a man? ›

Dads experience hormonal changes, too

Pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding all cause hormonal changes in mothers. However, researchers have found that men also undergo hormonal changes when they become fathers. Contact with the mother and children seem to induce the hormonal changes in dads, the researchers said.

How do new dads stay calm? ›

5 Tips to Ease New Dad Fears
  1. Be prepared! Heed the old boy scout adage. ...
  2. Take some time. Gone are the days when only mom took a little time off work after the baby was born. ...
  3. Talk it out. Men have a reputation for keeping their feelings bottled up. ...
  4. Hang with mom. ...
  5. Help where you can.

What is the hardest age to parent a baby? ›

But many first-time parents find that after the first month of parenthood, it can actually get more difficult. This surprising truth is one reason many experts refer to a baby's first three months of life as the “fourth trimester.” If months two, three, and beyond are tougher than you expected, you're not alone.

How do new dads cope with stress? ›

In addition, the Mayo Clinic offers these tips to help men cope with “new dad” stress:
  1. Expand your support network. Seek out friends and family who can offer you encouragement and support, especially during those first few years.
  2. Talk to your partner. ...
  3. Play with your child. ...
  4. Consult a financial planner.

What are 3 responsibilities of a parent? ›

Parental responsibilities include:
  • Providing a safe living environment.
  • Protecting the childen from abuse and other dangers.
  • Paying child support as ordered.
  • Fulfilling the children's basic needs (food, water, shelter)
  • Disciplining the children.
  • Investing in the children's education.
  • Knowing the children's interests.

What are the rules of a father in the family? ›

The father must mean to protect and not just to pay the bills. It is his duty to get interested and know when a family member needs medical attention. In securing a home, he should ensure the home is safe for habitation.

How much time should a father spent with his child? ›

You cannot shape and form your children in seven minutes a day. A father should spend at least an hour each day with his children, not only talking but just being there. Many mothers do not understand their role either. Children learn about love, caring and trust from their mothers.

What does the F stand for in father? ›

As we have already mentioned above, the most common complete form of FATHER is 'Follower Adviser Teacher Honorable Educated Reminder'.

What God says about fathers? ›

Bible Verses About Fathers

Ephesians 6:4: "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." Proverbs 1:8: "Hear, my son, your father's instruction, and forsake not your mother's teaching."

How can I be a good father to my daughter? ›

  1. Listen without making judgements. ...
  2. Acknowledge her emotions. ...
  3. Don't draw attention to her appearance or tease her. ...
  4. Spend time enjoying father daughter activities. ...
  5. Write a letter to your daughter. ...
  6. Show the real you and get to know you better. ...
  7. Point out your similarities. ...
  8. Be present and open with your partner or wife.
11 Jan 2016

What it means to be a father? ›

Fathers need to share the responsibility for protecting and teaching them. We protect our children by providing safe homes, supervising them carefully, ensuring they get proper medical care and making sure they are well cared for when we aren't with them. Parents are also a child's first and most important teachers.

What are the qualities of a good father? ›

10 qualities of a good dad
  • Men are playing a more active role in parenting. They don't just take the role of provider, protector, and disciplinarian in the family. ...
  • Dependability. Being there through thick and thin. ...
  • Involvement. ...
  • Compassion. ...
  • Valuing of mother. ...
  • Empathy. ...
  • Being verbally expressive. ...
  • Being human.

What are dad skills? ›

As sports captain of the house, dads are relied upon to teach the children how to swim, play football and should have a mighty throw when playing ball-games. Taking good family photos, opening jars, setting up the paddling pool and building sandcastles are also key 'dad skills'.


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