Tips for Dads

This will be one of the toughest jobs you ever do. You can meet the challenge.

It’s your kid. Sometimes you might feel like you’re being pushed aside when it’s feeding or diaper-changing time. While getting out of changing diapers might sound OK, it’s good to be involved in your baby’s care as much as possible. Changing diapers is better than watching someone else do it. 

So get right in there and be a part of the process. Ask the staff what you can do.

Here are some ideas for ways you can help your family:

Support each other

Give support to and seek support from your baby’s mother. You made this baby together, and now you need to stand together.

Start conversations with other dads

You are not the only dad in this situation. Sharing your concerns, observations and questions with another dad will help you both.

Find an outlet for frustration

It can be really frustrating to see your child in this situation, but it’s the best place for them. Find an outlet for your frustration away from the NICU (physical exercise, etc.).

Roll with the changes

Having a baby makes a mom’s hormones do all sorts of crazy things, so roll with the changes. Her emotions may be all over the map; she may seem like a completely different person. The best thing you can do is be a solid support.

Get some fresh air and a new perspective

Take a break when things are calm. Take a couple of laps around the hospital.

Take care of yourself.Your newborn child can sense your well-being

If you’re upset, you give off that vibe. So pay attention to your needs as well. In other words, don’t try to be the tough guy holding the world on his  shoulders. 

Remember that it is okay to ask questions and show your emotions. You can still be strong and supportive of your spouse or significant other. Even though you did not physically birth the child, you are still allowed to show feelings and ask questions. You, too, are dealing with a difficult time.

Excerpted from "NICU Field Guide: A Parent's Guidebook for Finding Your Way Through the NICU Jungle." Material in this field guide was developed by the Neonatal Family Advisory Council at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, Grand Rapids, Michigan, and is used with their permission.