Happy belated Fathers’ Day to all dads and fathers-to-be! What an
exciting time of life, and often terrifying. As the father of four young
boys and physician to many young families, new dads often ask me about
how adding a baby changes things. Every situation is unique, but new dads
create the environment for their children to flourish. Although it may
seem that your newborn only has eyes for mamma, children of all ages benefit
from an actively involved dads.
Get Informed | My first advice is to educate yourself about pregnancy,
childbirth, feeding and caring for babies, discipline, safety, etc. CVMC’s
Maternal Child Education,
The POD, is a great resource, but there are also various books available and you
should consider getting advice from other dads (and grand-dads!). Ask
questions during pre-natal visits, talk to the lactation consultant, etc.
Budget | Yes, having a baby can be expensive. Be sure to plan for the necessities
– diapers, wipes, a place for baby to sleep, onesies, infant car
seat and feeding supplies. The baby product industry is huge, and different
babies have different needs. It’s okay to wait and see if you want
to spend the money on optional equipment, like a swing, backpack, sling,
bouncer, etc. If possible, borrow from a friend to test run baby equipment
before you invest your money.
Dad’s Role | Often “daddy” play is different than “mommy”
play. Even with newborns, “daddy” play can be more challenging
and exciting. Play with dads encourages children to understand reasonable
risk, overcome frustration and encourages self-confidence, concentration
and resilience. Don’t worry if you and your partner interact differently
with your baby. Your child is smart enough to tell the difference and
his awareness of the world improves with different interactions.
Discipline | On the other hand, consistency between parents and “presenting
a united front” are very important when correcting an older child.
But, YOU CAN’T SPOIL A BABY! Babies are only just figuring out that
they are a separate person from their mother. A baby’s cry is the
only way to communicate his needs. Responding quickly will help you learn
different ways to soothe your baby. Feeding, changing, burping, swaddling,
white noise, rocking, going outside and walking are all activities that
may soothe an unhappy baby. If you are concerned your child may have colic,
contact your physician. And if your frustration with a crying baby seems
to be too much, put the baby in a safe place and walk away. All parents
get frustrated, but a shower, exercise, good meal or a good night’s
sleep may be all you need to be a more patient dad. The same applies for
moms so make sure your partner is taking care of herself also.
Expectations | In many ways, the birth of your baby is the finish line
of a marathon, an accomplishment fulfilled. However, for your baby and
your partner’s body, the transition to “after pregnancy”
is slower. Newborns do 5 things: eat, sleep, pee, poop and cry. After
the first couple of months, they smile and wake up to the world, and we
get to see their personality. Sometimes the transition from pregnancy
to parenthood can be emotionally and physically exhausting. Be on the
watch for depression in you or your partner that is severe or lasts for
more than two weeks. Talk to your physician if you think your partner
may have post-partum depression.
Becoming a father is an exciting life change. With preparation, support
and information, new dads can be great dads from the first day. To make
an appointment with Dr. Kihneman at
Catawba Valley Family Medicine – West Mountain View located at 1940 Briarwood Drive Suite A, call 828.294.1116. For more information
about resources offered at Catawba Valley Medical Center for new parents
or parents-to-be visit
The POD online or call 828.326.3062.