When a baby is born, support is critical. Here are some tips to help ensure your partner, husband, or baby’s father is as involved as you need them.
A note from the editor: We believe in co-parenting and know that most mothers carry too much of the physical and mental load of parenting. We hope this article can help shift that issue. Also, we repeatedly use the word ‘father’ throughout the article. Please use the appropriate word for you and your family structure.
There is nothing more precious to a person than becoming a parent. As you witness your baby’s first steps, hear their first words, and listen to their laughter, you understand that you will do anything for them.
But what makes a dad – apart from dad jokes – and what are the effects of a father’s involvement? More importantly, how can you actively get him involved?
- Get them involved as early as possible
- Encourage exclusive dad/baby time
- Get help if you need it
- Take turns parenting
- Communicate with the baby
More details on how to get your husband involved are below.
The science-backed benefits of a father’s involvement
One should never underestimate the father’s role in child development. Numerous studies confirm fathers’ positive influence on their children’s development and well-being.
And yet, sometimes, parents underestimate the importance of equal parental involvement in the child’s life. If you still have doubts, look at how divorce affects children. The reasons are hidden in other statistical data, which shows that since 1965 the father’s involvement in childcare has nearly doubled.
As more and more moms prefer full-time work to the outdated role of a stay-at-home mom, the fathers have to keep up with the new reality.
But do kids benefit from this change in household structure? The short answer is: yes, they do.
Since 1965, the father’s involvement in childcare has nearly doubled.
Fathers are as essential to a child’s well-being and growth in a stable and healthy environment as mothers. We all know how important dads are as father figures in a young child’s world.
Other benefits of a father’s involvement in childcare:
- Advanced language development in the child due to father-child communication;*
- Decrease of mental health symptomatology;
- Reduced risk of child problem behaviors and development;
- Higher levels of sociability, confidence, and self-control;
- Higher cognitive scores; and
- Reduced contact with the juvenile justice system.
*Note: Mothers tailor word choice to the child’s known vocabulary, but fathers are more likely to introduce new words.
“The quantity of interaction doesn’t benefit kids. But if you have more high-quality, engaged parenting, that does seem to be positively related to outcomes for children,” says Marcy Carlson, Ph.D., a sociologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “Warmth is also a key factor. Fathers who spend a lot of time with their kids but are dismissive or insulting tend to have only negative impacts.”
Thus, the best thing a mother can do is encourage a father’s involvement in parenting.
How to get your husband to help with the baby
1. Get them involved as early as possible
Pregnancy is not only about mothers, even if it seems so. Fathers need to get involved in the early excitement as well.
Read, watch, and learn about the pregnancy stages and the baby’s prenatal development. Then, get involved in preparations for the baby’s arrival, like shopping for necessary items for the baby’s room or helping your partner prepare for the baby shower.
The more you involve them, the easier it will be to connect with the baby when they’re born.
Becoming a dad begins long before the birth happens. It is only natural for a parent to spend some time preparing mentally and emotionally for taking on responsibilities and new duties for their child.
The mother’s role is to show the importance of the father’s involvement and engage him in all the prenatal-period responsibilities as soon as possible.
2. Encourage exclusive dad/baby time
Regarding the importance of fathers, statistics demonstrate that their involvement in a child’s upbringing pays off significantly.
And to bond with a child, a dad must spend quality time with the baby one-on-one. So, dear future moms, allow the dads to take charge at times.
Some ground rules for mothers when it comes to leaving the dad in charge:
- Trust them as much as you can and let them awaken the dad instincts
- Encourage playing with the baby, as such activities help the father feel the bond the most
- Let dad learn how to communicate with the baby and take responsibility for their well-being
- Take it easy on them (no matter how hard your hormones make) after the baby is born
- Remember, they’re as new to being a parent as you are
3. Get help if you need it
Fathers-to-be should understand that their new life is a challenging path they don’t have to take alone. It takes two people to bring a life into this world and even more to deal with the baby once they are here.
If you have family members, friends, colleagues, and neighbors, if there is anything these people can help you with, let them do it.
Even if you’re the toughest dad in the world, you still need a little help sometimes – don’t hesitate to ask for it or accept it.
4. Take turns with parenting duties
When a mother wonders, “How involved should a father be?”.
The answer is: as much as the mother is.
Engaging the father in child and family services helps provide the baby with a stable and healthy environment. However, both parents need to be equally involved, which doesn’t necessarily mean you spend all your time with your baby.
Taking turns can become an efficient tactic.
Getting up in the middle of the night to soothe a crying baby can be exhausting if you have to do it all the time. Take turns! Share duties with your spouse, and both of you will get a chance to sleep well at night.
Diapers duty? Take turns! Playground time? Take turns! You’ll discover that you are as engaged in the baby’s life as ever.
5. Communicate with the baby
Lastly, if you are a newly-minted dad – learn to communicate with your baby. Even if your baby can’t speak, they still give plenty of cues and signals to what they need or want. Do your best to learn your baby’s unique language.
Learn how they communicate their needs through their behavior and body language and be there for them when they need you.
A piece of advice for new dads: attention is the key. The more you watch and notice what your baby is trying to show you, the faster you learn their simple behavioral patterns and satisfy their needs.
Fatherhood books we recommend
If you’re looking for fatherhood books to help you feel more involved in the pregnancy, postpartum, and parenting journey, check out some of the below options.
Final thoughts on getting baby’s father involved
When waiting for a baby to be born, mothers tend to wonder about many things, and one is how dads can help with the newborn and be engaged in a child’s upbringing.
While it may become a cause for concern for many pregnant women, nothing is challenging about involving a father. When both parents love and care for their babies, it is only natural to be willing to take care of them and protect them at all costs.
Even if sometimes we need a little guidance along the way.
Other fatherhood resources you might enjoy
Natalie Maximets is a certified life transformation coach with expertise in sustainability and mindfulness and a writer at Online Divorce. She helps people overcome life challenges and build happier life.