What were we thinking! promote confidence and reduce distress in parents with a first baby

It's essential to share the load

By Alberto

It's essential to share the load

Having a new baby is hard work…for everyone. Dividing up the paid and unpaid work after Victoria’s arrival has not been easy but I think that Alex and I have found a way that works for us, after some “trial and error”. The trick is to remember that it’s all about Victoria!

Alex cares for Victoria during the day which means that I am responsible for the night shift. When she wakes, I will settle her. When she is hungry, I’ll pass her to mum. When she needs changing, I take care of it. It’s all part of being equals and sharing Victoria’s care between us.

When I talk to my friends and colleagues about our routine, they expect me to be absolutely exhausted. But if I am honest, Victoria gives me all the energy that I need. Sure, sometimes it is really difficult when you are waken at 3 o’clock in the morning by the cries of a baby but when I am with her during “my shift”, I am full of energy and love and affection for her.

Expert response from What Were We Thinking! expert, Ann O'Doherty

Hi Alberto, a new baby creates a lot of change and as you say a huge work load and sharing the load allows each of you to have a break and to appreciate each other more. The more we as new parents do for our babies the more we develop confidence in our parenting styles even though we will often do things a little differently to our partner but this can be a good thing.

You and Alex will touch, talk, hold and communicate a little differently with Victoria from each other. These differences in how you both approach and position Victoria, the different sounding voices you have and speech inflections you use will all have a positive influence on Victoria’s brain, improve her coordination and stimulate her physical development.

Skin on skin contact (which is very soothing to both babies and parents), holding, talking, singing, stroking and bathing Victoria are all wonderful ways to get to know one another and it will also help Victoria to get to know your smell (which is very important to babies) as well as your voice and your touch.

Responding quickly and meeting Victoria’s needs as you and Alex are doing is a great way to develop a strong physical and emotional relationship with Victoria. Every time you respond to her cry, sooth her upset, change her nappy and look into each other’s eyes you are helping her develop connections in her brain around trust and safety and security. Even at this early stage you are helping Victoria with her emotional development that will enable her to develop healthy relationships throughout life.

Babies learn through play and, as a Dad, playing with Victoria is so important as it also helps her develop physically, intellectually and emotionally. Victoria won’t mind what your singing voice is like, she will love it anyway. Babies respond to rhythm and melody and because she has been listening to your voice since she was about 4 months gestation it is very soothing and familiar to her.

Tummy time is another wonderful thing we can do for our babies to enable strong muscle development, stimulate both sides of the brain and encourage movement. Movement is also strongly linked in with how babies learn. Try a slow dance with Victoria, using rocking motions while supporting her well.

Enjoy this wonderful time in your life and know that a strong, responsive and caring relationship with our children is the best beginning we can give them.


Posted in:  Crying settling sleeping  Dads  Growth and development