Our partners often feel a bit left out when they become new parents because, there’s very little for them to do. Mom usually feeds them and all that partners can do is change a diaper or rock the baby to sleep. Some of them even find new babies intimidating. Here are some tips to help your partner get involved from the very beginning.
- Start by involving your partner in the pregnancy:
Allow your partner to go accompany you to your antenatal appointments. Let them speak to the baby and feel kicks and movements. Allow them choices when it comes to things like choosing a cot or a pram.
- When the baby is born, allow them to start bonding immediately:
Make plenty of provision for skin-to-skin contact, let them take the baby while you nap or eat something, let them change the baby’s diaper, let them burp the baby or simply just hold the baby. Arrange for them to have plenty of experiences with the baby. Perhaps they can deal with a fussy baby from beginning to end. Or maybe they can spend extended time alone with the baby i.e. without you, say from an afternoon to an evening.
- Give them specific tasks that they own:
Perhaps bathing the baby every day can be their task. It’s easier for them to get their heads around “owning” an activity rather than “helping” with baby. In this way they have also have special time together and can bond.
- Do not micromanage:
Trust your partner and allow them the space to find their way around the baby.
Bear in mind that your partner’s parenting style will likely differ from yours. Give them the space they need to figure it out. Don’t be controlling about small matters. They WILL cope.
- When you do offer suggestions, be respectful and specific:
Provide positive ideas of what they could do as opposed to what they should not do. Try not to be demanding or critical because gentle encouragement will make all the difference in the attitudes of both parties.
- Ask for and honour your partner’s opinion on raising the baby:
Listen to their suggestions and try to understand where they are coming from. Respect and trust them in their role as parent.
Remember that both of you are adjusting to a new experience. It doesn’t happen naturally for everyone and sometimes some space and gentle encouragement is needed. Do make a point to have regular alone time with your partner in order for you to discuss things that are bothering you both.