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Let Dad Be Dad: 6 Ways to Encourage New Fathers

How to empower and support your partner as he gets the hang of fatherhood.
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5. Help Him Get Involved With Feeding

One challenge for dads is that one of the most basic parts of their baby’s care, feeding, can seem completely outside their realm if mom’s nursing.

But nursing isn’t just about the time spent latching on; your partner can take part in a big way (as he’ll learn if he shows up to breastfeeding class). You’ll be exhausted and nursing around the clock, so your partner can take over all the other details, everything from changing diapers, to burping, to making sure you have a glass of water.

“I don’t think I think I can count on one hand the number of diapers I changed in the first 2 weeks,” says Rob Bischoff’s wife, Jen. “That’s something Rob could do. He would take Jake from me, change him, and bring him back.”

For some dads, however, it takes actually feeding the baby to feel like they’re really involved. Once nursing is established, when your baby is about 4 weeks old, you may want to introduce a pumped bottle so that he can feed the baby (and you can get some more sleep). Remember baby will resist initially, so keep the pumped bottle a consistent part of the evening routine.

6. Resist the Urge to Do Everything Yourself

Many moms struggle with letting go and allowing dad to do his thing. “As a new mom, you’re in that mother lion role to begin with and you can inadvertently shut the father out and make him feel unimportant,” Cohen says.

Tony’s wife, Rachel, admits that it was hard for her to let her husband take the lead. “I was micromanaging and wanted him to do things the way I would,” she says. “Tony would say, ‘I have to figure this out for myself. It wouldn’t be the way you do it, but I have to figure out what works for me.’ I had to take a step back.”

Don’t forget that you’re partners in this. You can -- and should -- share in the worries, but also the crazy joys of parenting a baby.

“Have a sense of humor. This is something that dad can play a big role in,” Cohen says. “Moms tend to suffer from information overload, combined with anxiety and hormones. Dad can be the person who helps to level the playing field.”

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Reviewed on September 18, 2013

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