Becoming a dad can be exciting and scary. Feeling the weight of that responsibility may be a bit overwhelming – lots of different feelings may be stirred up.
Being a young dad can feel even more of a challenge especially if you are still in full time education.
How will this affect your studies and your future?
How will you manage moneywise and where will you live?
How will you tell your parents?
How will her parents react?
Are you in a steady relationship and will you and your partner plan to live together once the baby is born?
You may have loads of big questions fighting for your attention. If this pregnancy is unplanned this can be a huge shock and you may need to take some to time to get used to the idea and think some things through, talk to others and maybe get some help and support with this. You may not know many or even any other young dads to talk to.
Kieran Anders, Operations Manager at Dad Matters shares his top tips to help you understand what your baby’s behaviour means and how you can look after yourself and those around you.
Tom, a dad says:
“It is good to talk to other people about being a dad. Friends, people you work or are at college with, your bosses or teachers, wider family, workers, they will want to know and can support you in being a dad.
It is also good to find out who the baby’s Health Visitor is and hopefully you will have had some contact with the midwife at the hospital. The health visitor is there to support your baby to grow and flourish, so if you have any questions or worries you are welcome to contact them. Or it may even be just to introduce yourself if you have not been able to meet them when they have visited your baby.”
Some young parents say they may feel judged by others who may be thinking they are too young to be a dad.
You can’t know what others are thinking unless they tell you and you may be misinterpreting a look in the wrong way.
What matters is you, not what others may or may not be thinking.
Many young dads who have been in your position say it has been the making of them and that it’s the best thing that ever happened to them.
Once you have got over the initial shock you may start to see many of the positives in the situation.
You can be an awesome dad; dads can have a special relationship with their baby. For example, it has been shown that dads (men) play in a different way with babies and children to mums.
There are lots of way you can be involved with your baby and be a supportive dad. If you have a partner, you can discuss how you can best support them both.
If your partner is exclusively breastfeeding there are lots of other ways you can bond with your baby. Skin to skin contact is just as important for dads as it is for mums from birth onwards. Studies have shown that babies who experience skin to skin contact with their dads in the first hours after birth tend to cry less, calm quicker and fall asleep sooner than babies staying in a crib.
Did you know?
So don’t hold back, get involved. Your baby needs you.
There is help available. If you are in full time education or on an apprenticeship there will be pastoral care support through your school, college or university.
You may have a tutor who can help and support you or you may have a mentor you feel you can talk to. There is a Learner Support helpline on 0800 121 8989 where personal advisors working within Connexions provide free and confidential advice to 13 to 19 year olds.
Your GP, midwife and health visitor are there for you as well as your partner and baby. In some areas, there are specialist services for young parents, such as the Family Nurse Partnership.
Your midwife, GP and health visitor will be able to connect you with your local support services and other young parents.
Baby Buddy is a free interactive pregnancy and parenting app which has been created to support parents, co-parents and caregivers endorsed by the NHS. It provides daily advice for fathers, up until the child’s first birthday, is available now to download through the App store.
DadPad – The DadPad is a great free app, developed in partnership with the NHS, with information and advice for dads. download for free via your app store.
Dad Info UK support for dads on the impact of becoming a dad
Brook is a national charity who offer sexual health advice to people under 25. You can text them on 07537 402 024 or use their webchat helpline, details on their website.
Straight Talking is a national teenage pregnancy charity that offer support services to young parents
Little Lullaby is a young parent’s project run by the Lullaby Trust which offers support for young parents, by young parents
Music, Football and Fatherhood A UK lifestyle and parenting platform for dads
Tiny Happy People New Dads guide to good mental health
Tiny Happy People Dad Life Tips and advice to help you navigate parenthood and bond with your baby
Citizens’ Advice for further information about what benefits you qualify for and details of useful services
Care to Learn Scheme is for those under 20 who are already a parent at the start of their course and is designed to help with the cost of childcare while you are studying
Healthy Start Scheme to see if you qualify for vouchers for free milk, fruit, vegetables, and vitamins.
Gingerbread works locally and nationally with single parent families to help improve their lives
In England your area may have the Family Nurse Partnership where a family nurse may be able to visit you at home if you are a young parent. They support young parents from early pregnancy until your child is 2.
If you live in Wales, you can find your local Family Information Service
Free to download Parent Tip for dads. How can dads get involved?
Free to download Parent Tip on Emotional Health and Wellbeing for fathers
Free Parent Tip to download Looking after your relationship as new parents
Free Parent Tip to download Sex and intimacy; understanding changes to your sexual wellbeing after the birth of your baby
Factorgraphics: a new interactive resource combining images, text and video testimonials both from parents and health visitors signposting to support for new dads
Getting it right from the start is a series of YouTube videos on attachment and bonding
Vroom is a free app to help parents to develop babies’ brain power