Raising a child is tough under any circumstances, but when you are a father left to take care of a newborn, you may be under more pressure than you have ever felt before. In fact, you may be confused and emotional too since it seems that there is no one to help you cope with this difficult situation. However, there are some methods of caring for your child, and yourself, even when you are the only one responsible for your child’s health.
If you’ve just become a parent to a newborn and you are a single father, you may feel overwhelmed. Where do you start? How do you feed and bathe the baby? What can you give the child? It may be tempting to drop the child off with a relative or with daycare workers so that the pressure is off you. However, one of the most important things you can do in the first few days is to bond with your child. Even if you have to go to work, remember to take the time to get to know your child. If you don’t make the time to bond, you may already have put yourself at a disadvantage.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t ask for help. It is important for any single parents, and especially fathers, to ask others for help, either physically or emotionally. They will be sympathetic towards you and will probably be happy to help. They can give you the best tips on feeding and other primary care functions, as well as demonstrate how certain things are done. This advice is valuable when you are caring for the life of a baby.
Remember too that you are not alone. There are many single parents, both male and female in the world, and all of them are experiencing something very similar to what you are. As such, find a support group with parents in a similar situation. Not only will you make friends, but you will also gain some valuable experience.
If you need it, you should also take a break, even if it is doing something small like going for a walk. The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to raise a child perfectly, but only to the best of your abilities. You do need help, but you also need to try your best to give your child all of the advantages in their lives.
Tips For Single Dads
There are a few things to do if you want to counter the loneliness and anxiety that often accompany being a single father. These could include:
- Ask a friend or family member to stay with you for the first few weeks. You will need the help, since trying to go to work, do housework and manage a newborn can be difficult. If you don’t have any friends or family close by, hire a live-in nanny to take care of the baby when you can’t, but remember to make time for your child too.
- Join an online group if you are finding it too difficult to be with baby. You’ll probably find people from all over the world experiencing the same things you do. If you are finding being a parent an emotional journey and you are not sure how to cope, speak to someone, post on a forum or go online for advice.
- When faced with a situation you can’t control, learn to let go. You may not want the baby to be up all night, or you may worry about the excess of mess, but the best thing you can do in these situations is to take a breath, relax and accept that you cannot possibly control everything.
- Remember to take time for yourself. Many single parents, both mothers and fathers try to do housework or catch up on other things when the baby is asleep. But remember that a newborn is hard work, which means you owe it to yourself to take some time out too. When the baby is asleep, watch a little TV or take a bath. Indulge in your favorite hobby if this is an option. Just remember to take time for yourself.
The Importance Of Sleep
No one teaches you when you first become a parent that getting enough sleep is vital. How will you find the time to sleep when you have so much to do? Well, it may not be easy, but it is important. For a start, ensure that when the baby is sleeping, you are sleeping too. One of the best strategies for ensuring you get enough sleep is sleeping when the baby does. Don’t worry about housework that needs to be done, turn your phone off and take the time you need to rest. You owe it to your baby.
Sometimes, the baby will sleep while you have company, and if you need that time to nap, say so. Tell your guests you have to lie down for an hour. Many will understand just how difficult having a newborn is. It may be tempting to bring the baby into your bed when they are crying, and though this is fine if you are calming them down, do not sleep with the baby in the bed. When your baby starts to fall asleep, move them to their crib. You may find that sometimes, baby cries for no reason and in this case, take a few moments to see if the cry is for something real, or if the baby is just calling out.
One of the basic mistakes new dads make is relying too heavily on coffee. Because they often have to be awake when they are exhausted and may be stressed out and anxious, it is easy to depend too heavily on coffee or other substances. Resist the temptation to indulge in coffee and stick to the sleeping tips offered.
The Visiting Rules
When you have a newborn, people will often crowd around you and will want to be with you all the time. However, depending on the baby’s sleeping and feeding schedule this is not always possible. Set up rules for visitors so that you don’t have to deal with it. Start by establishing visiting times for all of your friends and family, even the baby’s grandparents. When they do come to visit, make sure the baby is not over stimulated by too much handling.
If you need to get some sleep, ask visitors you trust to sit with the baby for an hour or two. You will probably find that many of them will happily do so. Be prepared in your first few weeks to go through a variety of emotions. You will probably go from anxiety about how you are going to take care of your child to happiness and exhilaration. Try to set up your visiting times so that you can get some emotional support from friends and family. While they will want to see your baby, they will likely be concerned for your welfare too.
If you can, get a family member to stay with you, to act as a babysitter and a buffer for visitors. If you are too tired to do something or to see friends, simply ask that family member to run interference so that you can rest. You may feel as though you are taking advantage of their kindness, but will thank them for it at a later stage.
The First Few Weeks
In the first few weeks of being with your baby you are going to need to learn a variety of new skills. Whether you check for new information online, or you ask friends and family for advice, you need to make sure you are taking care of your baby the best way you know how. This will involve a few key areas:
- Feeding – it is generally best for newborns to be breast fed, but as a single dad, you are going to need to use a bottle and formula. Don’t be tempted to give your child cow milk. What they need is a specialized formula to help them grow. Ask your doctor or a maternity nurse to recommend the best bottles, nipples and formula for your baby. Remember that newborns need a warm bottle, so be sure to check the bottle’s temperature on the inside of your wrist before you feed the baby.
- Cleaning and changing – you are probably going to have to change your baby’s diaper at least a dozen times a day, so be sure you have the right size. Most parents prefer one diaper brand over another, so try out a few to find the ones you prefer. When it comes to changing, make sure you have the right powders and lotions too. If you are not sure what these are, check online. If you have a friend or family member who has children, ask them to show you how to do the diaper change before doing it yourself. Bathing your baby is also important, but you need to ensure the water is just right. This is usually a lukewarm temperature. Baby’s skin is very sensitive, so make sure the water is not too hot or too cold. Also remember that you have to support a newborn’s head, especially when bathing.
- Spending time with baby – you may find that between the sleeping, the diaper changes and the feeding, you are not getting a lot of time to appreciate your baby, so take an hour or so every day to just look at your new baby. Talk to them, sing them songs and generally let them get to know your voice and your smell.
As a single father, you may have a lot of anxiety about what is right and wrong when it comes to raising your baby. You may worry that you are not buying the right clothes or using the right formula, but remember that with being a father, the paternal instinct will kick in. You may think that only mothers have that instinctive feeling of what is right for their baby but fathers have it too.
The most important thing you can get when you bring your newborn home is the right support. Whether you are getting it from a support group or from a friend or family member, make sure you have someone around you who knows what you are going through, and who can help you and give you advice. Being a single father, especially to a newborn can be unnerving, but you can do it.
Remember that your newborn will only be a newborn for a few weeks. As they start to grow and change, you will see a lot of differences and will have to learn a lot of new things about them and about how to care for them. Do not let this scare you. This is something that every parent has to go through, whether they are single or married, so take comfort in the fact that you are not the first person to raise a child. If you are feeling excess anxiety, go to your doctor and ask them to recommend help for you. if you can get a family member to stay with you the first few weeks, even better.
The important thing to remember whether you are a single father or mother, is that the most important thing you can give your child is love. Don’t worry about the basics of feeding and bathing your child. That is the kind of thing you will learn as you go. Instead, dedicate your time and attention to getting to know your child and what distinguished them from every other child in the world. Spend some time with them and you will find that everything else will suddenly get easier. By taking these tips into account and remembering to ask for help, you will be successful in raising your child and helping them get through the first few years of their life.