Tips for first time fathers [Courtesy, Freepik]

Denis Charo and his wife Alice, were excited at the prospect of becoming first-time parents. For Denis, just the thought of being a first-time dad and the countdown was overwhelming. He looked forward to the day he would hold his buddle of joy in his hands. 

After what seemed to be an endless wait, his darling girl was born. It was a mesmerising moment as he held the little frail tiny girl. He named Chaurembo (beautiful girl). To him, Chaurembo was beautiful like her mother with his stunning eyes. He says she was born while she was smiling, something he loves doing. It was love at first sight. 

For the next three months (beyond his paternity leave) he was inseparable from his daughter. He would wake up at odd times to change her diaper and feed her because his wife was having postpartum challenges. 

“This is a common problem affecting more than 1 in every 10 women within a year of giving birth, and it can affect fathers and partners, which can be tough for the baby’s well-being,” says Rashidi Juma, a paediatrician. 

Becoming a father for the first time, experts say, is an amazing experience, one that can feel daunting at times.

Dr Juma says it is normal and understandable to feel so lost or unsure of what to do as you figure out how to take care of your newborn and adjust to the new role. 

The thing to remember, he advises first-time fathers, is that all fathers were once first-time fathers who had to learn the ropes like themselves. 

 Becoming a father for the first time, experts say, is an amazing experience, one that can feel daunting at times [Courtesy, Freepik]

Denis says he learnt a lot about being a first-time father from Chaurembo’s paediatrician. Three years down the line when his son Mwalukundo (one who loves easily) came knocking, he was prepared to parent him. 

Dr Juma says the gateway to being a new father is a little preparation before the baby arrives.

“This will help a new dad to avoid future stress and let him focus on those precious early moments with his buddle of joy,” he says. 

For would-be fathers who are preparing for fatherhood, experts, and Denis give the following father-to-be tips and advice, covering some of the things to consider to help manage the arrival of a newborn baby. 

Becoming a father for the first time, experts say, means adjusting your lifestyle and preparing your living space for the arrival of a newborn, including buying and assembling many things babies will need in their first few months. 

You will also need to have nursery furniture and gear, babyproofing gear, travel gear, feeding gear, hygiene and grooming essentials, baby clothes, entertainment gear (swings and play mats), first aid, a baby monitor (for those with big homes), and baby care equipment. 

Denis says that with the arrival of the firstborn, they depended entirely on advice and guidance from their parenting friends, but while preparing for their secondborn, he and his wife had learnt a lot about a newborn registry. 

Babyproofing your home

After going through the challenges of being a first-time father, “with no clue of the journey”, Denis learnt through what he calls “a hands-on experience”, and was prepared as a second-time father when Mwalukundo arrived. 

By then, he says, he had realised that babies become mobile more quickly against expectations, so with his second child, he did not take chances, but instead got started babyproofing his home as early as two months after the pregnancy. 

“This involved everything from installing new locks on cupboards (little Chaurembo had learnt how to open them at two months of crawling), blocking the stairs with safety gates (he had a near-death experience with “miss cheeky”) to covering his leather furniture (to prevent them from “cuts and scratches”, and moving cords and breakable items up and out of the little one’s reach.

His advice for parents-to-be is to consider owning a children-friendly home, long before the arrival of their children, otherwise, they will need to do a complete home overhaul at an enormous expense. 

Denis’s advice to new new-fathers-to-be to be ready to part with things they may no longer need such as extra furniture that takes space because “with the little person on the way, it may be a good time to declutter the home.”

This way, he says, as a new father, you will be bringing your newborn into a welcoming, organised environment. 

Fewer items in the house, he says, helps you and your parenting partner to visualise and better plan and implement all your baby’s nursery ideas.

This (preparing for being a first-time father), Denis says, requires a support system from your relationships – with your partner, colleagues, friends, and family. 

“However, what matters most is your perspective shifts into that of a first-time dad,” says the proud father of two.