Dad picking up his newborn.

12 Do’s and Don’ts for a New Dad

Becoming a father is a life-changing experience. As a new dad, you may feel a mixture of joy, anticipation, and anxiety. You want to do everything right, but you may also be unsure of what to expect or how to navigate this new role. While there's no one-size-fits-all manual for being a dad, there are some essential do's and don'ts that can help you navigate this exciting, yet challenging, time. To help, here are 12 do’s and don’ts for a new dad.


12 Do’s and Don’ts for New Dads

From fostering strong connections with your newborn to prioritizing your own mental health, every new dad should have access to these 12 invaluable tips. Whether you're navigating the waters of fatherhood for the first time or seeking to enhance your parenting skills, the following tips will equip you with the tools you need to be the best dad possible.


1. Do Communicate

Communication is the key to a healthy relationship, especially when you’re both trying to navigate the world of parenthood. Be honest and upfront, even if you’re not sure how your partner will respond. It’s better to respectfully talk about things than hold something in and let it cause resentment. Set some rules for the communication, such as not interrupting when the other is talking, not using blaming language, and not judging for the feelings or emotions expressed. If you need help with communication, talk to your doctor about a recommendation for a professional.


2. Don’t Criticize

There’s nothing more frustrating than unwanted criticism, especially as a new parent. Don’t ask your partner why they didn’t do something one way or another, as this can make it seem like you’re blaming or judging. For example, if they said they’d put together a baby accessory or piece of furniture, but you find it still in the box, don’t ask them why they didn’t get around to it. Instead, sit down together to read the instructions and build it. You should be a cohesive team, not opponents.

It's also important to avoid criticism or comparison to other parents and new moms. Although a statement like, “Nina is great with this kind of stuff, why don’t we ask her?” may seem innocent, statements like that can really hinder a new mom’s confidence.


3. Do Offer Help

New moms need a little time for themselves every once in a while, but it can be difficult for them to actually ask for help. Instead, be proactive and offer it. Offer to care for the baby while your partner takes a long bath or goes for a walk. When you do this before they feel like they need to ask, it can reduce the amount of tension and give your partner a chance to clear their head.


4. Don’t Leave Everything to Her

Although things have gotten better in recent years, “traditional” gender roles usually put the weight of raising children on the mom. Raising a child, doing housework, cooking, cleaning, organizing schedules… the list goes on and on. However, all of these things on their own can be full-time jobs, so expecting her to do them all while recovering from childbirth while simultaneously trying to bond with the newborn is simply unrealistic. Be proactive and start doing things around the house. If the dishwasher is full and you have an extra minute, empty it. Cook dinner or pick something up, do a load of laundry, or spend some time with your newborn so she can have a much-needed shower and nap. Raising a child is a team effort, so let her know she’s got someone on her side.

start your order

5. Do a Little Research

If you haven’t read the baby books, it’s time to start. You don’t have to spend hours hunched over hundreds of books but try to educate yourself on a few things so you don’t have to ask your thousands of questions. Luckily, there are plenty of books and websites that will give you an overview of everything you need to know about caring for a newborn.


6. Don’t Argue or Compete

This one might be easier said than done, especially if you’re both sleep deprived and irritable. However, whenever possible, try to avoid arguing or competing over who has the busier day. Everyone’s duties in a family unit are unique. Work stress is also very different from the stress associated with caring for a newborn. Stop trying to argue about who has it harder and instead, combine forces and work together to offer support, love, and an oasis from the hecticness of the world.


7. Do Express Your Love

Postpartum can be a challenging time for new moms. They might feel like they don’t have any time for themselves, which could mean less grooming than usual. This is completely normal, and unlikely to change how their partner feels about them, but it can take a toll on her mental health. Make sure that you give your partner plenty of love and affirmation during this time to help support her journey into motherhood. In fact, try to let her know that you love her even more now. A little reassurance goes a long way.


8. Don’t Prioritize Your Social Life

Although you might not have had much time to spend with friends lately, the onset of parenthood is not the time to put your social life first. If you’re going to be coming home late from work, tell your partner that but don’t stop off at the bar to spend a little time with friends on the way. You should be prioritizing your family first and foremost, especially during the newborn phase. Once your baby develops a sleep schedule and settles into a routine, things will get easier. However, for now, make your partner and your baby your number one priority.


9. Do Put Your Baby First

With that being said, the beginning of parenthood is all about getting to know your newborn and spending quality time with them. Take time to bond with them every day. Whether that involves skin-to-skin contact, putting them to sleep, or feeding them doesn’t matter, but the more you’re involved, the better. Babies grow up fast, so make the most out of their newborn phase because it’ll be over before you know it.


10. Don’t Make Your Child Choose

This may not be applicable until later in life, but never put your child in a position where they have to choose between you and your partner. You should be a team and if you have different opinions, discuss them away from your child. If you get in a fight, never try to show your child that you’re “right” and your partner is “wrong” as this can cause mental distress for them and affect development.


11. Do Show Your Love

Just because you have a child, doesn’t mean the love should fade away from your relationship with your partner. Continue expressing your love in ways that your partner appreciates and try to practice intimacy in everyday life. This can help you maintain a strong bond, despite the stress that’s associated with parenthood. Small acts add up, so don’t be afraid to sprinkle them in here and there.


12. Don’t Try to Be Perfect

As a new dad, you might feel like you have to be perfect and uphold an unrealistic ideal of a “man.” Skip that phase. Real dads aren’t always going to be perfect, especially if this is your first kid. If you want to show your child the best side of you, be yourself and admit when you make mistakes. During the newborn phase, this won’t matter much to your baby, but it will be noticed by your partner. Plus, it’ll help you prepare for the future, when your kids start to mimic behavior and absorb everything they see. If things do come naturally to you but your partner is struggling a bit more, try not to be arrogant about it.


To help you on your journey into parenthood, turn to Byram Healthcare. We offer a wide selection of insurance covered breast pumps to new and expecting moms to help you give your baby the nutrients they need for a healthy development. Plus, breast pumping gives new dads an opportunity to help with feedings, so you can share the responsibility and both experience bonding during nursing. Browse our breast pump comparison chart and get started with your order today.