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Do-It-Yourself Service for Dad

dad and baby snuggling

It might feel like mom is in the “driver’s seat” with baby but remember that she did have a 9 months head-start getting to know baby! Here are some DIY tips for dad so that you can take over some of baby’s care and get to know him/her, too.

A father is just as important to a baby as a mother is. This is a time for you to care for both mom and baby and show them how important they are to you. Children need to know they are loved and valued.

Breakdown Causes The Fix
Crying baby Hunger Bring baby to mom to be breastfed.
Tired Help baby go to sleep (make sure baby has been fed and changed, hold baby skin-to-skin, rock baby in your arms or cradle, etc.).
Gas Burp baby during and after feeding.
Hold baby and rub his/her back while walking around and singing.
Boredom Change baby’s surroundings and play with them.
Try some tummy time.
Go for a walk or drive with baby.

Dress baby as you are, plus one more layer. Baby’s chest, tummy and back should feel warm, and not sweaty or cool.

Smelly and damp

Change diaper (and clothes, if needed). It might be a good time to do laundry.

Crying or anxious mom

Normal baby blues

Be supportive and patient. These should disappear within two weeks after baby is born.

Overtired and overwhelmed

Encourage mom to nap, take over as many household chores as possible (don’t wait for her to ask!), limit visitors, and always tell mom what a great job she’s doing.

Postpartum depression

If mom has feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, anxiety and inadequacy past 2 weeks after baby is born, help her find professional help.

Breastfeeding difficulties

For all breastfeeding difficulties:
Help mom find professional help (Well Baby Drop-in, your doctor or midwife, a lactation consultant, or a public health nurse).



Sore nipples

Help with positioning or latch (see “Exclusive Breastfeeding” section).

Help mom get comfortable and stay comfortable during breastfeeding (including bringing her pillows, snacks and drinks!).

Full/sore breasts

Encourage mom to keep breastfeeding, and breastfeed as often as she can.

Help mom express breastmilk. You can help her relax, get the supplies ready, and help her find the proper way to do it (see “Expressing/Pumping and Storing Breastmilk”).

Get cold/warm compresses and cabbage leaves ready for mom (mom places washed cabbage leaves around her breast for 20
minutes at a time, up to 3 times a day).

Mom and baby learning what to do

Always support and encourage mom, and let her know what a great job she’s doing.

Learn as much as you can and help mom when she needs it.

Limit visitors so that mom and baby have time to get to know one another and get used to breastfeeding.

Splotches, blotches, red rash

Normal newborn rash (anywhere on body)

Nothing. It takes some time for baby to get used to air so they tend to get lots of rashes, splotches, etc.

Diaper rash

Make sure you are changing baby often and cleaning them well during every diaper change. Use a zinc-oxide based ointment if there is irritation. Try to keep baby’s skin exposed to air for short periods of time.

Thrush (white spots in baby’s mouth that look like milk curds)

Go to your doctor or midwife as baby and mom will need treatment. Thrush does not go away on its own.


Don’t know

Check the index of your Joy of Parenting to see if it is covered in the book.

Call your doctor, midwife or nurse practitioner, or the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.

dad and baby in the hospitalVisit to see videos and tips on being involved in raising your baby.

Dad, you need to take care of yourself, too! If you are well rested, it is easier for you and mom to work together in taking care of baby. If you tire yourself out, then you won’t be able to help out as much. Make sure you and mom are talking to each other and letting each other know how you feel, and when you both need help.

Paternal Postnatal Depression (Affects 1 of 10 men)

Men can also have postpartum depression. About 10% men will experience paternal postnatal depression (which is the male version of postpartum depression); most likely between 3-6 months after baby is born. The risk is higher if mom also has a postpartum mood disorder. Symptoms for dads are similar to symptoms of postpartum depression in moms and can also include:

  • feeling angry and irritable
  • feeling restless
  • feeling emotionally withdrawn and detached

Like women, if left untreated, it can become very difficult to cope with parenting. Dad may have thoughts of harming himself, his partner, or the baby. Talk to your health-care provider about support and treatment.


Best Start, 2013 2016
Massachusetts General Hospital Centre for Women’s Mental Health (online), 2010