Becoming ‘dad’ can be an exciting and humbling experience. Just as mothers and babies spend those early days learning to communicate with each other, dad's need time to bond too. Several companies now offer paternity leave, and the results are happier families all around. In fact, some of India's most established companies and startup's alike are reworking their outdated leave policies to take into account both partners. That's fantastic news!
But, current paternity leave policies still usually range anywhere between 5 days to 5 weeks. If you're going to be a first-time dad, do you know how to make the most of whatever time you have?
Here are some great ideas on things you can do with your new family:
1. While mom and baby have a whole number of activities already charted out for them to do together, dad’s role is largely unstructured. This means more freedom for you and baby to try different things and find your groove. Try your hand at practical tasks like bathing, changing and burping your baby. If you're up for something unconventional - try dancing, singing or even reading to baby whenever you can. They don't need to understand it; they simply need to hear your voice and spend some time with you.
2. Lack of sleep for new parents is perhaps one of the most daunting things. It takes a lot of self-discipline but supporting mom by taking turns at night feeds is one of the most selfless things you can do for both your partner and your baby. Plus this way your baby knows they have two loving parents who they can rely on always.
3. Just like night clubs have bouncers at the entrance to avoid uncontrollable crowds inside, managing what will seem like a never-ending stream of visitors is a 'new-dad' responsibility that's more important than most people can anticipate. Since your baby's immune system is still developing, remind people to wash their hands before handling the baby and keep all sick relatives out until they are okay.
4. Continually attending to baby's needs and not getting enough sleep can leave both partners exhausted. Divide and conquer household chores, organise date night in with a simple meal and some flowers or even give mom a few hours of 'me time'. This way you and baby have some fun time alone, too!
Photo by Aditya Romansa on Unsplash
5. Go to all doctors visits and participate by doing some research beforehand. Speak up if you have any questions or doubts regarding your baby's eating, sleeping or general health. If you haven't already, this is also a great time to discuss what vaccinations schedule is right for your baby and how you can prepare for it. Some of the vaccines you should talk to your Paediatrician about include Chickenpox. (varicella; Var), Diphtheria, tetanus, and whooping cough. (pertussis; DTaP), Hepatitis A. (HepA), Hepatitis B. (HepB), Influenza. (Flu), Measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), Meningococcal(MenACWY [MCV4], MenB), Pneumococcal (Prevnar [con-jugate vaccine, PCV], Pneumovax [polysaccharide vaccine, PPSV]), Polio (IPV) and Rotavirus (RV).
Finally, whether your workplace gives you the privilege of paid paternity leave or not, planning ahead, setting aside some savings for baby's needs and learning how to disconnect from work, social media and just be present whenever you can, makes a world of difference to your relationship with both your partner and your child.