advice

daddy daycare: how to look after a baby

It might seem a little bit daunting at first, but being alone with your child is precious bonding time. We've put together a new dad's survival guide to help you get a handle on how to look after a baby.

keeping up with baby

The first thing you have to accept is that today is not the day to get any other jobs done. You might think that while baby naps you can change that leaky tap washer or mow the lawn. Not so. Your baby will take precedence, no matter what. This basically means you'll be feeding, rocking, changing and, with a little luck, catching a quick snooze yourself. If baby is unsettled, taking a walk together can really help. They’ll love being snuggled up against your chest in a sling, and the motion is very soothing.

feeding baby

When babies get hungry, they're not shy in letting you know – so make sure you have plenty of supplies to hand. If your partner is breastfeeding, have her leave some expressed milk to be reheated. For bottle-fed babies, make sure the equipment is sterilised and ready. Keep a muslin or a burping cloth close by for those post-feed dribbles.

don’t wear your best clothes

You'll need to do some pretty frequent nappy changes – first thing in the morning, last thing at night and after every feed. After sliding off the soiled nappy, lift their legs by the ankles and wipe gently with a baby wipe or a warm cloth. Apply cream if needed and then slide the new nappy underneath. There may well be a bit of leg-kicking and squirming at this point. When you do up the new nappy tabs, make sure they're not too tight. And that’s all there is to it.

cuddles and snuggles

While dads were once thought to come into their own when children are a bit older and can kick a ball or hold a bat, early everyday caregiving can strengthen the bond between dads and babies. Skin-to-skin contact, lots of cuddles and simply getting to know this new small person are all super important. If you aren’t usually at home in the day, taking the occasional night shift is a huge help to mum, and learning to soothe your child is a wonderful feeling.

the daddy difference

Although you may have a different parenting style, there's no reason to worry that you're getting anything wrong. Dads tend to be noisier and more physical than mums, but it is having the love and attention of both parents that matters most. You could try signing up to a baby massage class as a way to meet other new dads and compare notes.

Whenever it happens, your first day together alone will be a special one, and with more days like these, your confidence in handling them will only grow and grow.