New fathers can sometimes feel as though parenthood is all about mothers. But dads have their own special role to play in their baby’s life. Positive father involvement has a great effect on the mental and physical well-being of children. It’s not just your baby that will appreciate the time you spend with them: many mothers report that there is something special about watching the bond develop between their partner and their baby. The traditional stereotype of a father as bread winner and disciplinarian has changed, with more dads playing a hands-on parenting role. But every father is different and the role doesn’t come with a job description.

Consider your family background

There are choices your parents made during your upbringing that shaped your family, like how much involvement you had with your grandparents and other extended family, and how decisions were made about money. You might like to make some of the same choices when bringing up your own baby. Likewise, there are other things you might like to put your own unique spin on or do completely differently. Use the What Were We Thinking tool to get you started.

Remember how important your role is

The media and magazine articles focus on “mums and their babies”, “mothers” groups and “Mother-Baby” expos. However, the research shows that dads are just as important and being included in your baby’s care is great not only for your baby but for you and your partner.

Remember your father-son experiences as a kid

Some fathers had great role models in their own fathers. Others didn’t. Whatever the case is for you, reflecting on your relationship with your own dad can be a great place to start. Think about the things that your dad did growing up that you liked, and the things you would like to do differently. For example, maybe you liked that he brought back a gift for you after work trips away, but you didn’t like the fact that he wasn’t around much.

Think about other fathers that you know and respect

You can probably bring to mind a couple of men that you admire as fathers such as a friend, a brother, or fathers you’ve read about like sporting heroes or music artists. Are there things they do that you’d like to make part of your role as Dad?

Think about other fathers that you know but don’t respect

Everyone is different in their role as Dad. But you might have noticed certain behaviours in other fathers that you’d like to avoid when raising your family. For example, you might disagree with how some fathers respond to a disobedient child, or how they set a bad example with the things they say or do in front of their children. Try raising these with your partner so that you are on the same page.

Talk to other dads about what to expect

Although each dad will experience things differently, it can help to talk to your friends, family members and colleagues about some things to expect during your first year as Dad. You might feel uncomfortable at the thought of talking to other fathers at first, but there’s a good chance you’ll go through some of the same experiences as them and you might find their stories and advice invaluable.

Don’t hesitate to access help

There are lots of places you can call to Get help if you feel you need it. Getting help early can help prevent molehills from becoming mountains.

For more tips like these, why not check out Baby Steps, a free online program that aims to enhance the wellbeing of new mums and dads.