Dads are a very important part of parenting. They are often neglected in discussions on parenting.
When I do parenting workshops, they are often filled with moms who come because dads are pretty much “hands off” when it comes to raising kids, not to mention raising babies.
It is very natural that moms who breastfeed their babies spend most of the time with them. Society is very accommodating towards moms. Sadly, not that much is invested in supporting dads. It is so bad that when Gal and I lost our baby, most people came to me to offer condolences and nothing to Gal. For them, I lost the baby because I carried the baby but Gal didn’t.
A dad’s role in raising a baby is very important and crucial in the success of the parenting experience. There are many things dads can do that do not require having boobs and breastfeeding.
In those first few months, when the baby comes home, the family goes through a time of bonding. This happens mainly through caring. Taking care of a baby is the way to make this bond stronger. The main caregivers become the most important people in the baby’s life.
For a person to become a main caregiver, he/she does not have to be a mom or a dad but a person who cares for the baby consistently. This is where dads have an important role.
How dads can (and should) help care for their babies from the start
- Babies’ diapers need to be changed about 6-8 times a day and dads can do it whenever they are home.
- Babies drink water from a bottle from time to time and this is something dads can do easily.
- Some babies eat from a bottle and that makes it very easy for dads to take part in the feeding.
- Babies shower every day and this is a great opportunity to bond that dads can enjoy every night, even if they have to be at work during the day.
Dads are important even as support for mom so she can keep caring for the baby. I remember the first night I came home with Tsoof. He was born in a cesarean operation and I asked to leave the hospital early because the smell of the hospital reminded me of the loss of our two babies before Tsoof was born. I wanted to stay away from that place and start fresh, so I asked to go home about 48 hours after he was born.
I was still sore and promised to go to bed straight away. I got up that night to breastfeed Tsoof (getting up after a cesarean is not an easy task). An hour later, he woke up again. This happened 3 times. Finally, at 3am, I felt so exhausted that I woke Gal up and said, “I am going to sleep. You do whatever you can with him to allow me 2 hours of sleep”.
Gal was amazing and made this happen. He gave Tsoof water, hugged him and kissed him and walked around the house with him while I slept for 2 hours. I thank him so much for this because honestly, if I had to breastfeed every hour (for 20 minutes each time), I would have given up breastfeeding that same day.
Make sure to schedule time for dads to spend time with your (and their) baby. I know many dads who freak out at the thought of spending time alone with their baby. This gets to be a habit that is hard to break and does not change once the kids get older.
I have had girlfriends who could never leave their kids with their husbands and come on outings with our circle of women, ever! Even when their kids were 10 or 12, the excuse was always, “He’s not willing to be with the kids on his own. He says he’s afraid”.
I would suggest to start early and start slowly. Once your baby is able to eat from a bottle or have soft food and is not dependent on mom’s breastfeeding anymore, leave the baby with Daddy for a short time and make sure he gets very involved in caring for the baby in any way possible right from the start.
Be happy raising your baby!