16
Being a New Dad+Paternity Leave
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Bonus Topic Sponsored by Dove Men+Care
16.1
What to Know
Being a new dad will be rewarding and exciting. It will also be a challenge. The early days of being a dad can be really tough. You can make them easier by bonding with your baby. This section will help you bond. It will also help you meet your little one’s most pressing needs.
1. Get in the Game Right Away Your baby is here! It’s time to get involved. Be there right from the start to change diapers, give your baby a bath, and go to doctor visits. Be as involved in your baby’s life as much as you can. By being involved from birth, you can give your baby the best chance at a great life! 2. Take or Ask for Paternity Leave If your workplace offers time off for dads when their baby is born, take it. That’s called “paternity leave.” (If your workplace offers leave for dads and moms when a baby is born, your workplace might call it “parental leave.”) Not sure whether your workplace offers it? Ask. If your workplace doesn’t offer formal paid or unpaid paternity (or parental) leave, ask for as much time off as they’re willing to give and you can afford. Chances are that you, your baby, and your family will be better off for it.  3. Touch, Hold, and Play with Your Baby There’s no better way to bond with your baby than to touch, hold, and play with them. Don’t worry. You won’t hurt or drop your child! Touch helps babies stay healthy and thrive. Newborns who receive touch from their dads are more likely to attach in a healthy way to their dads.1 4. Make Time for Your Baby Before you became a dad, your time was pretty much your own. Not anymore. You might have to change your schedule to provide for your baby’s needs. So, do it! Review your normal week. Look for ways to make more time for your family. Can you take paternity (or parental) leave? Can you avoid working late by bringing work home to do after your baby goes to sleep? Can you change your work schedule? Can you telecommute? Can you get a new shift? Can you give up a hobby to spend that time with your family? 5. Make Time for Your Relationship with Your Partner A strong and healthy relationship makes for happier, healthier parents and children. Don’t let the changes that come with a new baby drive you and your partner apart. Your partner still needs your love and time. Discuss how you feel as new parents and support each other. Have a date night once a week, even if at home after your baby goes to sleep. While a baby can make your relationship stronger, you still have to work at it. 6. Don’t Think a Paycheck Equals Love Being a dad means so much more than bringing home a paycheck. Don’t be the guy who looks back one day to learn that he spent too much time at work and not enough time with his child. It’s okay as a new dad to worry about money. Taking paternity (or parental) leave is a great first step to being the dad your baby needs you to be. 7. Understand that Being a Dad Isn’t Always Easy
Being a dad can cause stress, make you tired, and even make you wonder why you had a child! You might feel crazy at times. No more so than right after the birth. No man is a natural at being a dad. It’s normal to feel sad, angry, or any range of things. Being a dad can be a roller coaster. Talk with other dads who have older children. Ask them what to expect and how to handle the ups and downs of being a dad.
Being a dad can be a roller coaster. Talk with other dads who have older children. Ask them what to expect and how to handle the ups and downs of being a dad.
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What Else
Paternity (or parental) leave is key for new dads. It allows you to be there with your baby and bond with them right from the start. When raising your baby with a partner, it's also a way to show your partner that you're in it for the long-haul.

Here are some tips for home and work:
16.2
Take Paternity Leave!
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It's okay to be worried about taking leave.
Be a proud dad, in words and actions.
Start a dads’ group at your workplace.
Be an equal partner in parenting
16.3
What to Ask
Click to scroll through each of the questions below. Grab a paper and pen to write down your answers if you wish. Take your time.
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How vital is it for me to be involved in my baby’s life right from the start?
What are some ways I can show my baby that I’m involved?
How will I work with my partner to be involved?
Does my workplace offer formal paid or unpaid paternity (or parental) leave? If so, how will I use it?
If my workplace doesn’t offer formal paid or unpaid paternity (or parental) leave, are there other ways I can work with my boss to spend time with my baby?
Get Inspired
16.4
Watch this brief video.
Learn More
16.5
Research shows that paternity (or parental) leave has a huge impact on dads, moms, and children.

Dads are healthier, happier, and more confident dads.
  • Time spent caring for children early on increases dads’ confidence in their ability to care for their child.2
  • Like women, men are wired to care for their children. Dads’ hormones change to help them bond with their child.3
  • Dads report fewer mental or physical health issues. They are more productive at work.4 They report being happier, and that includes with their marriage.5
Women are healthier. 
  • When dads take paternity (or parental) leave, mothers’ well-being improves.6
  • New moms are less likely to be depressed when paternity leave results in more baby care by dads.7
Children get the “Father Effect!”
  • Babies brains develop better.8 That’s even true with “preemie” babies.9
  • Dads who take paternity (or parental) leave tend to have a broader view in what they believe it’s okay for men and women to do and become. Their daughters tend to aim higher in their careers. Their sons tend to have a broader view of what is okay for men and women to do and become.10
Click to expand the list of sources:
For additional resources and information on paternity leave, visit: dovemencare.com/paternityleaveresources TAKE THE PLEDGE FOR PATERNITY LEAVE at www.dovemencare.com/pledge Less than 1 in 5 men in the U.S. are offered any paid paternity leave. Most dads who do have it don’t believe they can take their full time off to care for a newborn. It’s time to change that.  Working dads shouldn’t have to choose between their children and a paycheck. That’s because when they take paternity leave, it benefits families, workplaces, and communities.  Take the Pledge for Paternity Leave and join Dove Men+Care on their mission to make paid paternity leave the new standard. Over the next two years, Dove Men+Care is committing $1 million to fund paternity leave for real dads so they can take this meaningful time off. Learn more at www.dovemencare.com/pledge
Additional Resources
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Being a Dad+Paternity Leave