The fun part: being a great dad
Having a baby is the biggest, most important project of your life, because that child needs you, his dad, at every step of his life, from conception onwards, and the more you give of yourself, the greater a person your child will be. S/he will learn values from you, how to live, how to learn and how to love. Your prize is a healthy, happy child who grows into a healthy, happy adult.
In the womb: Believe it or not, a baby can recognise voices in the womb once it is 22 weeks old – five and a half months. The foetus is more likely to recognise a male rather than a female voice, because a man’s voice is deeper. So start making friends with your baby from the beginning.
Once the baby is born, the baby needs both parents. In a lot of families the mother takes full responsibility for the child in the first weeks or months of life. Fathers may feel a bit left out or insecure with the baby. Everyone will benefit from a strong, lasting bond between father and child. So don’t be nervous, and begin the greatest adventure of your life with courage. The more you are involved with the baby, the more confidence you will have to care for him/her, the stronger your bond will be and the happier and smarter your child will be.
Throughout your child’s life, always let your him/her know that you are there and that you are impressed and pleased with his/her behaviour. This encouragement and affirmation for big and small things gives your child confidence.
Some good ideas to remember:
Routine is good for babies and small children, and helps parents get some time to themselves. Encourage the child to sleep by him or herself. Bath and feed at regular times, and have regular nap and bed-times.
Save your money. Babies and small children do not need huge piles of toys. Often when babies receive a present they are more interested in the paper the present is wrapped in or the box the present comes in. Make toys out of simple household objects and save boxes and plastic containers food comes in for the child to play with. S/he can have as much fun with a wooden spoon and a plastic cup as an expensive toy, and will learn the same hand/eye co-ordination and fine motor skills.
Manage your child’s health. Make sure that you and everyone in contact with the baby washes their hands regularly with soap and warm water. This stops the spread of germs and infections. Learn the symptoms of childhood diseases and TB, a growing sickness amongst South African children.
Symptoms of TB:
- Failure to gain weight/ child is not thriving
- Loss of appetite
- Chronic cough for 2 weeks or more, not responding to a course of antibiotics
- Painless swelling of the lymph nodes
- An audible wheeze (light whistling sound) when breathing
- Unexplained fever