Father’s Day: What to expect as a new dad

June 18th, 2020
A father holding his newborn child in a nursery, knowing what to expect as a new dad.
Father’s Day is a day to honor and celebrate our fathers. Learn more about what to expect as a new dad. Photo: Getty Images.

 

Father’s Day is a day we honor and celebrate our dads. It’s a day to thank our fathers, step-fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers for the roles they play in shaping our lives.

Dr. Jack Spittler, a general practitioner at UCHealth AF Williams Family Medicine – Stapleton and the UCHealth Food and Ankle Center – Stapleton, cares for patients of all ages. He is a team physician for the Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets and Colorado Rapids. He’s assistant professor in Family Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and program director for the Primary Care Sports Medicine Fellowship.

Spittler’s primary role in life, though, is to be dad to two boys: a 17-month-old and a 3.5-year-old.

Dr. Jack Spittler, who talks about what to expect as a new dad.
Dr. Jack Spittler

“I attended ‘Daddy Boot Camp’ while my wife was pregnant with our first and even being a physician, it was incredibly helpful. It’s always great to hear advice from other dads,’’ Spittler said.

With Father’s Day around the corner, we reached out to Dr. Spittler to hear his advice on fatherhood and what to expect as a new dad.

What are the top three things you think every new father should know?

Be aware of your partner’s needs and try to think ahead. Your partner may not ask for help, but make sure they are getting some sleep, staying well fed/hydrated, and get some breaks to relax.

Babies cry a lot (even more than you are thinking)! This is just part of nature unfortunately. If you are getting frustrated (which I promise WILL happen), make sure the baby is resting in a safe place and take a brief break. Get some fresh air, do some pushups, try to meditate, do whatever you can to calm down your frustration and avoid accidentally taking it out on the little one.

Make sure to stay connected with friends and family (even if it’s virtual). You may feel like you want to hide away forever, but even a brief chat with friends or family can rejuvenate you!

What should new fathers be aware of when it comes to their own health in the way of screenings, vaccines, etc.?

This is a great wake-up call to take care of your own health now that your little one will be directly depending on you. If you aren’t healthy, taking care of your baby can be very difficult. Getting a routine physical with your primary care doctor is a great start. Also make sure you are updated on your vaccinations – especially Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis) and influenza. This can be incredibly helpful for you and your family’s health.

How important is sleep as a new parent? What about nutrition and sleep?  

Sleep is essential to staying healthy and surviving the newborn period. You will be up frequently at night for the first few months, so don’t be afraid to sneak a nap during the day when the baby is asleep. Also make sure you help out your partner if they are looking exhausted as well.

Eating healthy is very important too. You will probably find it difficult to get a lot of exercise during the newborn period since your schedule can be erratic. So focusing on nutrition can help keep you healthy as you start to figure out your new “routine.”

What are some fun, socially distant activities you can suggest for this upcoming Father’s Day? 

Some great, COVID-safe activities are getting out for a walk, bike ride, or hike with the family (utilizing masks and social distancing when around others). I also think that golf might be the best way get outside and safely have some fun – it’s probably the easiest sport to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

 

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About the author

Erin Emery is editor of UCHealth Today, a hub for medical news, inspiring patient stories and tips for healthy living. Erin spent years as a reporter for The Denver Post, Colorado Springs Gazette and Colorado Springs Sun. She was part of a team of Denver Post reporters who won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting.

Erin joined UCHealth in 2008, and she is awed by the strength of patients and their stories.