Giving birth the first time was terrifying, traumatic, messy, and beautiful all at the same time.

Babies don’t emerge from the womb with a how-to manual for new dads in hand. Instead, they turn your whole world upside down. The first five months of a newborn’s life can be profoundly disorienting for a new dad and mom. As things are constantly changing, routines can be hard to establish, and you start to wonder whether your life will ever resemble something familiar again.

Here are some tips for Moms to involve Dads in baby care.

  1. Ask Him for Help

Men don’t get hints at all. They need to be asked outright, directly, and specifically. The fact that he can’t ‘see’ what needs to be done like you can and needs to be asked and directed doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you or that he isn’t willing to help. It’s just a trait of the male gender.

Trust me, your husband feels freaked out and intimidated by this tiny bundle, and has not had nearly the practice you have, but is still happy to help. He wants to be a part of this amazing miracle.

  1. Trust Him

Let your husband work things out on his own. Refrain from being bossy or critical of his methods, especially if he isn’t up to speed (or doesn’t think he is).

If you fall into this destructive pattern, you’ll just erode his self-confidence, and your baby won’t get used to being comforted by him – which will leave you without a moment’s rest or peace.

This little bundle is not rocket science. Dads can absolutely figure out how to put on a onesie or change a diaper. The very act of completing baby tasks helps to build competence and confidence, as well as helping both dad and baby to build strong bonds with one another.

  1. Play Time

Dads are exceptionally skilled at play time. Studies have found that babies whose fathers played with them more performed significantly better on cognitive tests at two years of age. Dads and moms tend to play differently with their babies. Moms play more gently, and dads are rougher and more rambunctious, and babies require both both styles of playing to develop properly.

  1. Nighttime Support

Let’s be honest – no matter how tired you are, it’s not easy to convince a dad who works days to spend his nights awake with the baby – especially if you’re a SAHM. And if you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you’ll have to get up with the baby anyway. There’s no point in you both losing sleep. So, try striking a deal. If having him help at night during the week won’t work for your family, try giving him the weekend night shift instead. Or maybe it would work for mom to do all the nighttime feedings until a certain time, like 6 am, and then Dad can get baby back to sleep before heading off to work, allowing mom to sleep late. It’s worth the effort to find an amicable solution that everyone can live with. And if you’re both working full-time, dad should absolutely share the nighttime responsibilities in a way that will help both spouses feel supported.

  1. Feeding Support

Whether your baby is exclusively breastfeeding, bottle-fed or both, feeding newborns takes up an enormous portion of every day. I spent 40 hours a week at times, nursing each of my children. And that didn’t include the burping afterward or getting my baby to sleep. It’s exhausting! If your baby will take a bottle, Dad can help a lot with feeding. If not, Dad can take over burping and getting her to sleep, which will be very helpful. Dads can also be solicitous of moms needs while nursing and supportive of the time it takes.

  1. Diaper Duty

Each baby will require thousands of diaper changes during the first few years of life. Why not make these hours count? It could be a fantastic opportunity for bonding when viewed as a fun time to socialize and play rather than a messy, distasteful chore.

  1. Bath Time

We fight over who gets to bathe the baby at our house – it’s so much fun! So you might have to work out a schedule for who gets this fun chore.

  1. Take Baby Along for the Ride

Taking the baby for a walk is a great way to for dads to give moms a little peace and quiet. It’s fun to snuggle tiny babies in a sling on your chest. Older babies seem to prefer the stroller. Integrate this fun activity into everyday life, and you can cancel your gym membership and save money. Be sure to point things out to your baby and interact while walking, so your baby looks forward to this time every day. Your baby will open your eyes to all the wonders (bugs, rocks, construction equipment…) along the way that you would otherwise not even notice. You can do more than just walk, too. We installed baby seats on the backs of our bikes for fun, family rides. Whatever your preferred exercise is, find a way to include your baby.

  1. Let Dad Share His Favorite Skills and Talents

Some dads love to build things. From changing tables to baby swings and everything in between, there is a lot of assembly required when it comes to baby gear! Dads can take charge and get all the nursery gear assembled. Musical dads might like to hold their baby on their lap while playing the piano, singing, or strumming a guitar. My dad, a skilled craftsman, loved to invite us kids out to his workshop to pound nails into boards. Look for creative ways to incorporate your little baby buddy into your life and the things you love to do.

  1. Reading

It’s never too early to start a consistent bedtime routine, and a wind-down with dad may be just what the doctor ordered. Plus, dads always have the best funny voices and dramatic storytelling abilities. And reading should not be limited to bedtime if you want your baby to become an avid reader.


Your Husband is Your Partner

Above all, remember that your spouse is your partner, not your helper.

He should be as fully involved in child rearing as possible, (even if he’s the type to need a little shove to get going) because the bonds that will be formed because of his help and presence will be immeasurably satisfying and joy-filled to him and to your children. But the partnership goes both ways, and a partnership doesn’t mean that both partners do an equal amount of everything. Rather, the best partnerships play to the strengths of each partner. So don’t use this list as a method for dividing labor equally. It could be detrimental to your family dynamic to insist that 50% of each item on this list be performed by each spouse. Instead, use the list to discuss possible ways to involve dad more, in a way that you are both pleased with and excited about. If your husband wants to take over all of the bath time and read baby a story before bed each night, consider yourself blessed. Even if he rarely changes a diaper. The point isn’t doing everything equally, it’s finding ways to better involve dads, for the betterment of the entire family.