We're about to enter the golden age of the active father. Whilst gender barriers and societal expectations linger still, the roles have expanded enough so that Dad can be right in the thick of the action without standing out of place. There's plenty of blogs and guides to assure uncertain fathers in ways they can be of use, but these often focus on what a man can do that a woman can't, rather than the motherly duties he can share. Below are a few examples, some obvious, some subtle, of vital jobs that any newly-made-Dad can take on. We haven't put 'changing nappies' in there, because that's a fairly obvious one that shouldn't need to be spelled out!
Wearing a Sling
Now we're sure there's a healthy majority of DH's who know to do up a sling, and regularly tie their child around them when in the comfort of their own home. But why be shy about attaching these highly useful carriers - giving you control of both hands when looking after a child - when you're out and about? You shouldn't feel compelled not to wrap and strap in your baby just because it's the park, the supermarket, or a football game (maybe don't take the baby to that last one...). If you're worried you may be the only man doing so; then set a trend!
The reluctance and scepticism of men against baby carriers is precisely why, currently, there's such a small market catering to men who want to try on attachment parenting. You hardly have to move for floral patterns and masculine-less colours, but if you want to start seeing slings emblazoned with camouflage, snakeskin or your favourite childhood hero, then only you can encourage the market.
Feeding Expressed Breastmilk
Once Mum has got her breastfeeding all sorted out, normally after the first few weeks, it is possible for the father to take a fair portion (of feeding, that is...). Letting Dad take care of the occasional midnight snack is a win-win; you get to enjoy sleep you thought you'd lost forever, and he gets to enjoy this golden opportunity for one-on-one time together with his child.
Men, aside from in a set of strange and increasingly common cases, may not be able to produce the goods, but so long as they've got their head in the game they should be able to handle themselves. If you don't feel like giving him the crash course, there's plenty of resources online, explained in the language of man, so they can learn how to test if milk is safe for feeding, what to do if baby stops drinking, and other tips and tricks all explained with macho references ("the baby milk should be stirred, not shaken"), which never falls into patronizing.
Take Childbirth Classes
Virtually all preparatory birthing classes, whether they be individually spread out evening courses or centralized day-long sessions, welcome Dads with open arms. It's essential that fathers know as much about the child birthing process as possible, and having the need-to-knows explained by an expert is a far easier way to absorb facts than from a myriad of baby books. Some may focus more on natural birthing, others might have parts of their 'syllabus' targeted just for men. Whatever's planned, you can generally expect to become more knowledgeable about:
This a novel idea, and one we can't help but encourage! It's often the bane of many begrudging fathers to know their beloved has found a new group of mothers-to-be to share stories with; an impenetrable wall as far as he's concerned.
A particularly good idea when it comes to Dads who are their child's main carer, who prefer not to use children's centres or who are circumstantially away from their children frequently, forming a new circle with other papas is a no-brainer way to keep a man bonding with their son or daughter and to remain sociable. You can form your own based upon any mutual hobby or activity, but if looking, the Fatherhood Institute regularly spotlights organisations in various areas of the country, and even abroad.
Mums, is there a bit of childcare that your DH is not involving himself in that you think he really has no reason not to? Let us know in the comments, on our Facebook page, Twitter or Google+. Remember, if there's any topics you'd like us to raise in future articles, feel free to send them over.