Dad’s Guide to Newborn Care: From Diapers to Babywearing

Becoming a dad is an exhilarating experience filled with new responsibilities and joys. It’s also a time when you’re thrust into the world of newborn care, a territory that can seem daunting at first. This guide is designed to empower new dads with essential skills and knowledge, from mastering diaper changes to the basics of babywearing, helping you build a strong bond with your baby right from the start. 

 

Understanding Your Newborn 

Basic Needs of a Newborn 

A newborn’s needs are straightforward yet constant. They require regular feeding, ample sleep, and a lot of comfort. Understanding these needs is your first step in effective newborn care. Establishing a routine early can help your baby feel secure and make your days (and nights) more predictable. 

Understanding Baby’s Cries 

Babies communicate through crying, and deciphering these cries is crucial. Hunger cries are rhythmic and persistent, sleep cries are accompanied by yawns, and discomfort cries may come with fidgeting. Recognizing these patterns will help you respond more effectively. It might seem overwhelming at first, but as you and baby get to know each other their cries will become recognizable. (Also, babywearing can help you get more in tune with your baby’s cues!) 

All About the Diaper Change 

Choosing Diapers 

Whether you opt for cloth diapers or disposables, each has its advantages. Cloth diapers are economical and eco-friendly, while disposables are convenient and highly absorbent. One isn’t necessarily better than the other, it’s just about what’s right for your family.  

How to Change a Diaper 

Changing diapers is a frequent task in newborn care. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide: 

  1. **Gather supplies**: Diapers, wipes, rash cream, and a changing pad.
  2. **Safety first**: Always keep one hand on your baby while on the changing table.
  3. **Clean and change**: Remove the dirty diaper, use wipes from front to back, apply any creams, and fasten the new diaper securely.

Preventing Diaper Rash 

Frequent changes, airing out, and barrier creams are effective ways to prevent diaper rash. Ensure the diaper isn’t too tight and is changed regularly to keep the area dry and clean. Diaper rash is extremely uncomfortable and painful for baby. Avoiding this will help baby stay happier, more often! 

Feeding Newborns 101 

Supporting Breastfeeding 

Supporting your partner in breastfeeding can involve managing feeding schedules, cleaning pump parts, and ensuring the nursing parent is comfortable and hydrated. While many people assume that breastfeeding comes naturally, the truth is that it often doesn’t. Many moms and their little ones take quite a bit of time to get familiar with how to latch properly, how to get comfortable, and even getting an increased milk supply. 

Your job is to be a cheerleader, an encourager, and supporter. Get mama what she needs to be comfortable and relaxed to support a more successful breastfeeding experience. 

Bottle Feeding Basics 

If using formula (or pumped milk), make sure it’s properly prepared according to manufacturer’s instructions. Always hold your baby semi-upright for feedings and ensure the bottle is tilted with the milk fully in the nipple to avoid air intake (this will cause upset stomachs and gas). 

How to Burp a Baby 

Burping helps release gas that babies swallow during feeding. Gently pat your baby’s back in a seated or over-the-shoulder position after feeding to facilitate burping. 

Ways to Soothe a Baby 

How to Swaddle a Baby 

Swaddling can mimic the snugness of the womb and soothe your newborn. Getting a swaddler like this one can help make swaddling super easy and efficient. These swaddlers are super soft, easy to use, and include velcro so baby doesn’t wiggle out too easily.  

Learn more about baby sleep safety and swaddlers here.  

Holding and Rocking 

Holding your baby close and gently rocking back and forth can greatly soothe a fussy baby. Techniques such as the “football hold” or “cradle hold” are excellent for comforting and bonding. 

Get more tips on how to hold a baby! 

Babywearing Basics 

Benefits of Babywearing 

Babywearing is a practice that promotes bonding and can make day-to-day activities more manageable. It allows you to keep your baby close, providing comfort and security for your newborn. 

Fourth Trimester care isn’t just crucial for mom and baby, this is a major time of transition for dad too! Babywearing during this time allows dads to actively participate in their baby’s care, soothing them, and providing a sense of familiarity and reassurance. By carrying your baby close, you can help regulate their body temperature, breathing, and heart rate, replicating the womb-like environment they are accustomed to.   

Read more about the benefits of babywearing for dads! 

Choosing the Right Carrier 

Select a carrier that supports your baby’s hips, back, and neck, and distributes weight evenly for your comfort. Ergonomic carriers are recommended to ensure safety and ease of use. 

Learn more about the different types of baby carriers and which one might be right for you! 

How to Wear a Baby Carrier 

  1. Read the manual: Always check the manufacturer’s instructions before first use.
  2. Adjust for comfort: Ensure straps and belts are adjusted for both your comfort and the baby’s.
  3. Secure and check: Double-check all buckles and straps each time for secure fitting.
  4. Close enough to kiss: Make sure your baby is nice and high so you can kiss the top of their head and see that their nose and mouth are visible. 
  5. M shape / Frog Legs: Your baby’s legs should be in an “M” shape or frog log position. This is optimal for the safety and development of their hips.

Pro tip: schedule a fit check with one of our babywearing experts! They are free and you’ll learn all the tips and tricks for getting the perfect fit in your baby carrier.  

Supporting Your Partner 

Emotional support and sharing responsibilities are key. Recognize the signs of postpartum depression and ensure open communication to maintain a supportive environment at home. If you need external support from friends and family like laundry help, a meal train, or someone to hold baby so your partner can nap if you’re at work, reach out for help.  

Navigating the world of newborn care as a dad involves learning new skills and deepening your emotional connection with your baby. Every phase is fleeting and while the days are long, the years are short. Embrace each moment, and don’t hesitate to ask for help or resources when needed.

Vittoria Allen

Vittoria is a writer based in San Diego. A lover of good food, slow living, and a good novel, she shares her life with her husband and two daughters trying to squeeze out the beauty in every moment.

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