Healthy living

Being the best dad you can be

Having a baby is one of life’s biggest events. There is no blueprint to being  the perfect dad – all new dads learn on the job. It is important to make sure you’re tracking ok too. 

Check out the following for some ways you can look after yourself:

  • Talk to your partner before the baby comes about how you are going to split household chores once your baby is here. Having the conversation early can help you both start thinking about your new roles and how you can support each other. 
  • Know that it may take time to connect with your baby. Some fathers feel an overwhelming love straight away, for others it can take a little bit longer.  
  • Remember the basics: eat healthy food, exercise, stay in touch with family and friends and avoid alcohol and smoking.
  • Talk with other dads if you can. You’re probably facing the same sorts of issues.
  • Live around your baby’s routine as much as you can– it’s much easier when you go with the flow.
  • Avoid big changes during pregnancy or after the birth whenever you can. Moving house or changing jobs can bring added stress that you really don’t need.
  • If you’re not getting much sleep, let your employer and workmates know. They’ve probably been through it too.
  • You don’t have to be a hero. Let your mates and family help, or ask for help if you need it.
  • Go to appointments with your partner whenever you can. It’ll help you understand your baby, and your partner will appreciate the support.
  • Talk to your baby (even during pregnancy). Cuddle, play with, and read to your baby.
  • Some dads can report feeling a bit left out, especially at the start when babies can spend most of their awake time breastfeeding. There are lots of other ways to bond with your baby that don’t include feeding. You can bath her, read stories (yes, even at this age!) or sing to her. Find something special that is just for the two of you.
  • Having a new baby can put strain on a relationship – especially when no one is sleeping! Try and spend time talking with your partner every day. It is a big change for both of you, talk about what is going on and how you can support each other.  
  • Talk with your partner about how you’re both coping. Ask how she feels and tell her what's going on with you. Sometimes she just wants you to listen, and you don’t have to fix anything.
  • About one in every ten dads experience postnatal depression or anxiety, there is no shame in seeking help if you do need a bit of extra support.
  • If you don’t feel the best, talk to your GP. Tell your doctor you’re a dad with a new baby and ask for some strategies to get you feeling more like yourself again.
  • Read more tips about how to care for yourself with a little TLC.

Where to get help

  • See your doctor
  • See a child health nurse


  • Phone 9368 9379 or free call 1800 111 546 (free from land line only).

Women and Newborns Health Service

This publication is provided for education and information purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical care. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your healthcare professional. Readers should note that over time currency and completeness of the information may change. All users should seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional for a diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.

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