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New dad tips for handling a newborn

Most of us enter fatherhood with very little knowledge on how to raise a baby let alone bring up a good human being. We’ve held our nephews and nieces in our arms but feeding, cleaning, soothing, burping, changing nappies, nurturing is something that we are thrown into…and I mean thrown.

We’re never shown what we need to do to be a successful new dad. We definitely get a feel on what is the right way to bring up a child from watching how we were raise and because our parents were never taught the right way too, many mad bad mistakes.

When I see other people speak so lovingly of their parents, I feel they must have done a good job.

There are millions of dads and grandads that have dedicated themselves to raising good kids and been successful at it, success often comes from being intentional and dedicating time to solely focus on bringing up your child.

Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter whether you’re at home with your partner, separated or divorce? you need to be good at this!

I have put together some greats tips on how to raise kids at different ages, check out this first series on handling new borns.

Tips on handling a new born baby

If you haven’t spent a lot of time around newborns, here are a few basics to remember:

  • Wash your hands before handling your baby. Newborns don’t have a strong immune system yet, so they’re at risk for infection. Make sure that everyone who handles your baby has clean hands.
  • Support your baby’s head and neck. Cradle the head when carrying your baby and support the head when carrying the baby upright or when you lay your baby down.
  • Never shake your newborn. Shaking can cause bleeding in the brain and even death. If you need to wake your infant, don’t do it by shaking — instead, tickle your baby’s feet or blow gently on a cheek.
  • Make sure your baby is securely fastened into the carrier, stroller, or car seat. Limit any activity that could be too rough or bouncy.
  • Remember that your newborn is not ready for rough play, such as being jiggled on the knee or thrown in the air.

Bonding and Soothing

Bonding, probably one of the most pleasurable parts of infant care, happens during the sensitive time in the first hours and days after birth when parents make a deep connection with their infant. Physical closeness can promote an emotional connection.

For infants, the attachment contributes to their emotional growth, which also affects their development in other areas, such as physical growth. Another way to think of bonding is “falling in love” with your baby. Children thrive from having a Dad or other adult in their life who loves them unconditionally.

Begin bonding by cradling your baby and gently stroking him or her in different patterns. Both you and your partner can also take the opportunity to be “skin-to-skin,” holding your newborn against your own skin while feeding or cradling.

Babies, especially premature babies and those with medical problems, may respond to infant massage. Certain types of massage may enhance bonding and help with infant growth and development. Many books and videos cover infant massage — ask your doctor for recommendations. Be careful, however — babies are not as strong as adults, so massage your baby gently.

Babies usually love vocal sounds, such as talking, babbling, singing, and cooing. Your baby will probably also love listening to music. Baby rattles and musical mobiles are other good ways to stimulate your infant’s hearing. If your little one is being fussy, try singing, reciting poetry and nursery rhymes, or reading aloud as you sway or rock your baby gently in a chair.

Some babies can be unusually sensitive to touch, light, or sound, and might startle and cry easily, sleep less than expected, or turn their faces away when someone speaks or sings to them. If that’s the case with your baby, keep noise and light levels low to moderate.

Swaddling, which works well for some babies during their first few weeks, is another soothing technique first-time parents should learn. Proper swaddling keeps a baby’s arms close to the body while allowing for some movement of the legs.
Not only does swaddling keep a baby warm, but it seems to give most newborns a sense of security and comfort. Swaddling also may help limit the startle reflex, which can wake a baby. Baby should not be swaddled after 2 months old.

Putting a nappy on

You’ll probably decide before you bring your baby home whether you’ll use cloth or disposable nappies. Whichever you use, your little one will dirty nappies about 10 times a day, or about 70 times a week.

Before putting a nappy on your baby, make sure you have all supplies within reach so you won’t have to leave your infant unattended on the changing table. You’ll need:

  • a clean nappy
  • fasteners (if cloth prefold nappy are used)
  • nappy ointment
  • nappy wipes (or a container of warm water and a clean washcloth or cotton balls)

After each bowel movement or if the nappy is wet, lay your baby on his or her back and remove the dirty nappy. Use the water, cotton balls, and washcloth or the wipes to gently wipe your baby’s genital area clean. When removing a boy’s nappy, do so carefully because exposure to the air may make him urinate. When wiping a girl, wipe her bottom from front to back to avoid a urinary tract infection. To prevent or heal a rash, apply ointment. Always remember to wash your hands thoroughly after changing a nappy.

Nappy rash is a common concern. Typically the rash is red and bumpy and will go away in a few days with warm baths, some nappy cream, and a little time out of the diaper. Most rashes happen because the baby’s skin is sensitive and becomes irritated by the wet or pooy diaper.

To prevent or heal nappy rash, try these tips:

  • Change your baby’s diaper often, and as soon as possible after bowel movements.
  • Gently clean the area with mild soap and water (wipes sometimes can be irritating), then apply a very thick layer of nappy rash or “barrier” cream. Creams with zinc oxide are preferred because they form a barrier against moisture.
  • If you use a cloth nappy, wash them in fragrance-free detergents.
  • Let the baby go un-nappied for part of the day. This gives the skin a chance to air out.

If the nappy rash continues for more than 3 days or seems to be getting worse, call your doctor — it may be caused by a fungal infection that requires specialist treatment.

Bathing Basics

You should give your baby a sponge bath until:

  • the umbilical cord falls off and the navel heals completely (1–4 weeks)
  • the circumcision heals (1–2 weeks)

A bath two or three times a week in the first year is fine. More frequent bathing may be drying to the skin.

Have these items ready before bathing your baby:

  • a soft, clean washcloth
  • mild, unscented baby soap and shampoo
  • towels or blankets
  • a clean diaper
  • clean clothes

Sponge baths. For a sponge bath, select a safe, flat surface (such as a changing table, floor, or counter) in a warm room. Fill a sink, if nearby, or bowl with warm (not hot!) water. Undress your baby and wrap him or her in a towel.

Wipe your infant’s eyes with a washcloth (or a clean cotton ball) dampened with water only, starting with one eye and wiping from the inner corner to the outer corner. Use a clean corner of the washcloth or another cotton ball to wash the other eye.

Clean your baby’s nose and ears with the damp washcloth. Then wet the cloth again and, using a little soap, wash his or her face gently and pat it dry.

Next, using baby shampoo, create a lather and gently wash your baby’s head and rinse. Using a wet cloth and soap, gently wash the rest of the baby, paying special attention to creases under the arms, behind the ears, around the neck, and in the genital area. Once you have washed those areas, make sure they are dry and then diaper and dress your baby.

Tub baths. When your baby is ready for tub baths, the first baths should be gentle and brief. If he or she becomes upset, go back to sponge baths for a week or two, then try the bath again.

In addition to the supplies listed above, add:

  • an infant tub with 2 to 3 inches of warm — not hot! — water (to test the water temperature, feel the water with the inside of your elbow or wrist). An infant tub is a plastic tub that can fit in the bathtub; it’s a better size for babies and makes bathing easier to manage.

Never leave the baby alone. If you need to leave the bathroom, wrap the baby in a towel and take him or her with you.

Circumcision and Umbilical Cord Care

Immediately after circumcision, the tip of the penis is usually covered with gauze coated with petroleum jelly to keep the wound from sticking to the diaper. Gently wipe the tip clean with warm water after a nappy change, then apply petroleum jelly to the tip so it doesn’t stick to the diaper.

Redness or irritation of the penis should heal within a few days, but if the redness or swelling increases or if pus-filled blisters form, infection may be present and you should call your baby’s doctor immediately.

Umbilical cord care in newborns is also important. Some doctors suggest swabbing the area with rubbing alcohol until the cord stump dries up and falls off, usually in 10 days to 3 weeks, but others recommend leaving the area alone. Talk to your child’s doctor to see what he or she prefers.

An infant’s navel area shouldn’t be submerged in water until the cord stump falls off and the area is healed. Until it falls off, the cord stump will change color from yellow to brown or black — this is normal. Call your doctor if the navel area looks red or if a foul odor or discharge develops.

Feeding and Burping Your Baby

Whether feeding your newborn by breast or a bottle, you may be stumped as to how often to do so. Generally, it’s recommended that babies be fed on demand — whenever they seem hungry. Your baby may cue you by crying, putting fingers in his or her mouth, or making sucking noises.

A newborn baby needs to be fed every 2 to 3 hours. If your partner is breastfeeding, give your baby the chance to nurse about 10–15 minutes at each breast. If you’re formula-feeding, your baby will most likely take about 2–3 ounces (60–90 milliliters) at each feeding.

Some newborns may need to be awakened every few hours to make sure they get enough to eat. Call your baby’s doctor if you need to wake your newborn often or if your baby doesn’t seem interested in eating or sucking.

If you’re formula-feeding, you can easily monitor if your baby is getting enough to eat, but if your partners breastfeeding, it can be a little trickier. If your baby seems satisfied, produces about six wet nappies and several poo’s a day, sleeps well, and is gaining weight regularly, then he or she is probably eating enough.

Another good way to tell if your baby is getting milk is to ask your partners if their breasts feel full before feeding your baby and less full after feeding. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about your child’s growth or feeding schedule.

Babies often swallow air during feedings, which can make them fussy. To help prevent this, burp your baby often. Try burping your baby every 2–3 ounces (60–90 milliliters) if you bottle-feed, and each time your partner switches breasts if breastfeeding.

If your baby tends to be gassy, has gastro reflux, or seems fussy during feeding, try burping your little one after every ounce during bottle-feeding or every 5 minutes during breastfeeding.

Try these burping tips:

  • Hold your baby upright with his or her head on your shoulder. Support your baby’s head and back while gently patting the back with your other hand.
  • Sit your baby on your lap. Support your baby’s chest and head with one hand by cradling your baby’s chin in the palm of your hand and resting the heel of your hand on your baby’s chest (be careful to grip your baby’s chin — not throat). Use the other hand to gently pat your baby’s back.
  • Lay your baby face-down on your lap. Support your baby’s head, making sure it’s higher than his or her chest, and gently pat or rub his or her back.

If your baby doesn’t burp after a few minutes, change the baby’s position and try burping for another few minutes before feeding again. Always burp your baby when feeding time is over, then keep him or her in an upright position for at least 10–15 minutes to avoid spitting up.

Sleeping Basics

As a new dad, you may be surprised to learn that your newborn, who seems to need you every minute of the day, actually sleeps about 16 hours or more!

Newborns typically sleep for periods of 2–4 hours. Don’t expect yours to sleep through the night — the digestive system of babies is so small that they need nourishment every few hours and should be awakened if they haven’t been fed for 4 hours (or more often if your doctor is concerned about weight gain).

When can you expect your baby to sleep through the night? Many babies sleep through the night (between 6–8 hours) at 3 months of age, but if yours doesn’t, it’s not a cause for concern. Like adults, babies must develop their own sleep patterns and cycles, so if your newborn is gaining weight and appears healthy, don’t despair if he or she hasn’t slept through the night at 3 months.

It’s important to always place babies on their backs to sleep to reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). Other safe sleeping practices include: not using blankets, quilts, sheepskins, stuffed animals, and pillows in the crib or bassinet (these can suffocate a baby); and sharing a bedroom (but not a bed) with the parents for the first 6 months to 1 year. Also be sure to alternate the position of your baby’s head from night to night (first right, then left, and so on) to prevent the development of a flat spot on one side of the head.

Many newborns have their days and nights “mixed up.” They tend to be more awake and alert at night, and more sleepy during the day. One way to help them is to keep stimulation at night to a minimum. Keep the lights low, such as by using a nightlight. Reserve talking and playing with your baby for the daytime. When your baby wakes up during the day, try to keep him or her awake a little longer by talking and playing.

Even though you may feel anxious about handling a newborn, in a few short weeks you’ll develop a routine and be parenting like a pro! If you have questions or concerns, ask your doctor to recommend resources that can help you and your baby grow together.

Dad’s I hope this has been informative, share it with a new dad you know and we’d be very interested to read how you are going, put your comments in the box below and share your story with us and other dads.

Thank you to Kids Health for this valuable information for new Dads.

Becoming a new parent or DAD again

Being a parent for the first time is exciting but it comes with responsibilities and part of that responsibility is making sure your child grows up in a safe yet still stimulating environment so they can develop to their maximum potential. One of the best ways to ensure safety is to take time every few weeks, to view our home from your child’s perspective. To that end, you might like to get down on their level, literally! Start crawling around your home to see where potential dangers might be – it’s amazing what you come across on the floor, including dropped medication, sharp corners and unplugged electrical sockets- accidents waiting to happen! Below is a step by step guide on how to childproof your home depending on child’s age, development and needs.

The New Born Stage

When you bring your newborn home from hospital, it is a “getting to know each another phase” for you all. The baby’s room, or nursery is the first room to organise and have ready, when your baby arrives! First up, never, ever leave a baby alone without parental supervision. It’s as simple as that. Make sure your child is within earshot when they are sleeping. Another piece of invaluable advice is to not over fold baby blankets when they are sleeping and resting – they can overheat quickly that way.

The Baby Stage

blind-cord-wind-upsSeek out danger and take preventative measures to ensure your young children are safe at home, every day. An investment in blind cord wind-ups or wraps (pictured) from the beginning is very worthwhile, and are easily installed (a perfect “dad” job). On a serious note, they keep blind cords out of the reach of babies in their cots and from older siblings in general. Over-long cords can lead to strangulation. And remember to move cots and beds away from windows and window fittings whenever possible.


Night time

For night time action, a night light is good to have on, one that is not too bright, so you can keep an eye on your sleeping baby, it is also very handy for all those middle of the night feeds, changes and daddy cuddles too!

The Waddler and Toddler Stage

powerpoint-coversAs your baby grows and becomes more mobile (and curious), safety around the home is impetrative! Key rooms to keep safe are the kitchen and living areas. A good job for all new dads is to ensure your house is ready for your baby when he/she becomes mobile. Young babies and children are very inquisitive and learn through repeated observation. Invest in a few child safety locks. By using a variety of different locks and latches that work in different ways, it becomes harder for young children to work out how to open them. Also, make sure you have the right lock or latch for each cupboard depending on the type of handle. Dreambaby® have a huge range of locks and latches to suit your home and needs. Remember to cover all power points around you home too!

Bathroom Safety

In the bathroom ensure your bath tub is non-slippery, and there is a suitable baby bath to assist with bathing of your baby. Always keep medicines out of the way of babies by keeping them up high in secured cupboards. Other necessities to have on hand are medicine droppers, a rapid response digital thermometer and last but not least, make sure baby’s nails are kept short. Use baby scissors or clippers (don’t tear nails or bite them off even if they are very soft). Babies often put their hands up to their faces and can scratch their corneas and cut their faces if their nails are overly long.

Equipment and Baby Investments

Make sure all your baby equipment, furniture including your cot and pram, meet government and industry standards. Try not to buy second hand if you can, as it is never easy to gage the wear and tear on items. Also check to see if screws are tightly secured, both when you set up equipment, and afterwards as things loosen along the way. For instance, safety gates need adjusting on a regular basis.

There is so much information available for new parents, it can be a very fast learning curve!

Enjoy these early years as a new dad, as everting will tell you, they grow up fast and it will all too soon, be a distant memory!

For further advise and tips, a visit to your Early Childhood Centre is a good start. Your GP and Paediatrician are also invaluable when it comes to questions about baby’s safety, healthy wellbeing. Also check out the Kidsafe website for general safety information and of course visit the Dreambaby® website for safety product suggestions and solutions or call (02) 9386 4000. And be part of the safety conversation: Dreambaby Safety Facebook page. For useful safety tips & advice from Dreambaby®, check out DreambabyTV

How to secure your relationship during the parenting years

How to secure your relationship during the parenting yearsHave you thought about your transition from Partner to Parent? Everybody will win if you get it right – YOU, your partner and the children. Lets not forget it costs way less to live together as a family than to live separately.

It’s so important to secure your relationship during the parenting years and be aware that relationships can decline once the children arrive. Its not only the parents that suffer but the children can be effected emotionally and academically too. Don’t worry, it’s not inevitable for all couples but you must enter parenthood with your eyes open, understand and accept that your life will never again be how you knew it.

There has been studies conducted on this topic to find out what couples are doing right and what couples are they doing wrong?

Couples were monitored from prepregnacy to when the children were in preschool, the findings were very interesting…

92% of the couples in the study described a gradual increase in conflict after having their baby. By the time their babies were 18 months old, almost one in four couples indicated that their marriage was in distress. This does not include the 13% who already had announced separations and divorces.

One stage is not harder on relationships than another. There is a cumulative erosion of satisfaction over time. Parents of school-age children experience less depression and personal stress than they did when their kids were babies, marital satisfaction continues its steady decline for most couples.

So how does a couple remain happy?

The key to marital satisfaction lies in how couples manage the decision-making process. It’s not whether the couples have problems, because every couple does. When babies come along, there are a lot more issues and differences of opinion to negotiate, and a couple’s ability to do so with cooperation and respect can make or break the marriage.

It’s also important for partners to hear each others outbursts without immediately firing back or engaging in blame. The person who said or did something thoughtless needs to make amends later. Saying, “I made that comment out of anger. I really didn’t mean it,” goes a long way toward repairing a relationship.

They also put some expectant couples in groups with trained leaders and found years later that their satisfaction did not decline.

Many people take prenatal classes, learning how to breathe during childbirth, but few give much thought to what the next 20 years are going to be like. Couples in our study joined the groups when the wives were seven months pregnant and met weekly until the babies were 3 months old.

The group helped them start thinking concretely about what life with the baby would be like and enabled them to talk about their ideas, worries, and confusion before and after the birth. Six years later, the couples who remained married and had been in these groups were far more satisfied with their relationships.

So what do couples fight about?

New parents say it’s the division of labor, the who-does-what in the family.

When children become school-age, the issues of money and spending time together then become the things they fight about.

And what about sex?

Sex is a good temperature check of how the rest of the relationship is going. If you feel hurt or misunderstood, or you and your wife are struggling over but not resolving issues, that affects how attracted, nurturing, and ready to have sex you’ll be.

The frequency of lovemaking declines during the early months of parenthood when mothers especially are exhausted, but we find that most couples’ sex lives rebound within two years. During that time, though, some partners may not initiate even snuggling or touching for fear that it will give the message that they’re ready to have sex when they aren’t. We advise couples to be perfectly clear: “I’m not sure how much energy I have tonight, but I’d love to hold you for a few minutes.” That enables them to have more intimate time together and show caring for each other.

Many new mothers talk about feeling unattractive after the birth. But while a few men find it hard to see their wives as sexual after having children, most husbands are supportive about their wives’ appearance.

What can couples do on their own to help their relationship?

Work on issues with your partner when you’re calm — not at 2 a.m., when the baby won’t sleep. Often after couples have had a fight, they’re reluctant to bring up the issue again. But if you don’t, it can linger and resentment can build.

If you argue in front of your kids, tell them later that you worked out your disagreement or show them that you did by calming yourselves down in front of them.

Make time for the relationship. You may not be able to afford a sitter or be ready to leave your baby, but you can check in with each other for at least 10 minutes every day. That can be done after you put the kids to bed or even on the phone while you’re both at work, as long as you’re sharing what happened to you that day and how it’s affecting you emotionally. The pace of life today is so frenetic that few couples do this. But marriages are capable of change, and small changes can make big differences.

Being aware of what can go wrong when changing from partner to parent and how it can be a mine field for new dads will hopefully make you acknowledge that the first few years will take patience, understanding and commitment from both partners to make it successful – don’t go in blind!

I heard when we get it right it can create happiness equate to the feeling of quadrupling your salary…says Harvard psychologist Robert Putnam. He goes on to explain…

Making a good friend is equal to tripling a salary. Belonging to a club can cause an increase in happiness equivalent to doubling a salary. And going on picnics three times a year is the same as receiving a 10 per cent raise. Lets quadruple our happiness!

Please share this post with anyone you know going into parenthood  🙂

Credit for this research study goes to Philip Cowan, Ph.D., professor of psychology and director of the Institute of Human Development at the University of California and his wife Carolyn Pape Cowan, Ph.D. Professor of psychology.