Increasing The Fathers’ Involvement In Diaper Changes And Night Duty!

Written by Dr. Sharmila Samararanayake on Wed, 27 December 2023

Key Highlights

  • Active involvement of fathers in caring for infants has numerous benefits, including creating secure attachments, enhancing family harmony, and positively influencing the child's cognitive and social development.
  • Encouraging fathers to participate actively in parenting requires planning and strategies. Starting early by involving fathers in prenatal activities and opting for paternity leave helps them ease into their new role.
  • Allowing fathers exclusive time with the baby fosters learning and bonding. Establishing routines and being prepared for caregiving tasks contribute to smoother parenting.
  • Despite the challenges, fathers can optimize night-time caregiving by talking to the baby, practicing touch therapy for bonding, and creating moments to build familiarity. The joy derived from active participation in parenting contributes to the overall meaning and purpose of family life.
  • Partnerships in parenting to navigate both the pleasures and challenges of raising a child.

H2: Parenting

Bringing home a newborn is among the most exciting phases of parenthood. While there is much to look forward to, there is also a lot of strain that an infant can place on the parents and caregivers. Frequent feeds, loads of adjustments, and constant diaper changes form part of the routine of caring for the baby.

Often, mothers assume the natural role of primary caregiver for a newborn. However, fathers can prove invaluable and use this as a great opportunity to bond as a family. Here are some great ways that fathers can step in and step up to help with diaper changes and night-time care.

The Father’s Role – Fact Or Fuss

The Father’s Role – Fact Or Fuss

Parenting a newborn is a lot of work. Add in the need to run and manage a home, and you have more than your hands full. When a lot of the onus falls on one partner or parent, it can take a toll on the family, the individual, and the baby. This is why experts strongly advocate the equal participation of the father in caring for the baby.

Here are some things that stand to be gained:

1.Security: Children tend to form more secure attachments to fathers involved in their care and growth. This includes playtime, bathing, feeding, and pacifying. Such children are also found to be more confident and adjusted as they grow. They also display better social behaviours and form connections easily.

2.Harmony: When fathers are more actively involved in caring for and raising the baby, it inevitably strengthens the marital bond and creates a more nurturing home for children. This, in turn, has several short- and long-term benefits for children.

3.Performance: Involved fathers tend to raise children with a higher IQ, better cognitive skills, and improved communication. Some children also show advanced abilities in beginning to talk earlier and demonstrating greater language skills.

Bringing Equity And Accountability In Fathers

Some fathers take up active parenting rather naturally. With most, however, it takes some planning and strategy to help get them engaged and responsible, at least in the initial days. Over time, fathers tend to ease in and even enjoy their newfound role and quality time.  

Here are some things you can do to make fathers contribute equally to those diaper changes and night routines:

Start early: Some parents feel the best time is when the baby is born. However, you can start much before. Encourage your partner or the father to accompany you on visits to the doctor during pregnancy. Keep them involved in planning and discussions around the baby. Encourage them to be a part of shopping for the baby. This process will help them prepare emotionally and mentally to receive the baby and be more familiar with the newborn.

Take Leave: The best way for fathers to set themselves up for this new role is to opt for paternity leave. More and more companies offer provisions for fathers to take time off for a newborn. This allows them to be present and take in the new normal better. It also allows them enough time around the baby and a chance to get accustomed to responding to its needs.

Keep it exclusive: Allow the father to have exclusive time with the baby. This way, the father will learn to recognise signs and find ways to work with the baby. Avoid shadowing or offering advice. Remember that they are also learning, as you are. Allow them space to do it their way. Fight your instincts to step in when they change, bathe, or feed the baby, especially when they take on night-time duties.

Set routines: Try and make things predictable. With a newborn things rarely are, but bringing in a routine or a pattern will make it easier for everyone. Invite suggestions on days that work for each of you. This will make the routine less of a struggle for both. When creating routines, ensure that both partners have equal amounts of time off to recharge and relax. Make this a practice with everything – including visits to the park, diaper changes, wakeups, and feeds.

Be prepared: Ensure that things are stocked and in place so that the mother isn’t disturbed on her time off. This can be a shared responsibility as well. Have breast milk expressed and stored beforehand. Having simple checklists can allow access to all the needs and necessities always required.

Practice: Tasks like changing diapers and preparing feeds can take some practice. Especially for first-time dads, this can prove a challenge. Holding the baby may seem scary, and finding the right temperature for the bottle may be overwhelming. Help the father practice enough and feel comfortable and secure before you leave them to take it on these tasks independently at night.

Making Fatherhood Meaningful

Making Fatherhood Meaningful

Although waking up at night can prove difficult, especially after a long day, and a diaper change is rarely ever a pleasure, there is so much to gain from being alone with the baby. Fathers can use this time to great advantage by optimising this window available to them.

Some things you can do include:

  • Talk to your baby. Build the familiarity of your voice, and they will grow to feel more reassured by its sound. Talk, read, or sing, and you will begin looking forward to these moments.
  • Keep them close. Touch therapy not only strengthens the bond between parent and child, but also helps them sleep better, stop crying, and reduce anxiety. It can also help regulate body temperature and heartbeat.
  • Look at them. Babies start focusing and looking at things closely when they are four days old. By looking at them and keeping them close, you can help them become more familiar with you and memorise your presence. Moreover, there is no greater joy in the world than looking into your baby’s eyes.


There are pleasures and challenges in parenting. When you find ways to partner and find joy in the moments you have with your baby, you will find that family starts to bring more meaning and purpose to your lives.

That’s when even the most difficult times become a pleasure.


Dr. Sharmila Samararanayake

Dr. Sharmila Samararanayake (MBBS, DCH) is a medical doctor, working in the Dermatology unit of the National Hospital of Sri Lanka. She passed with honors from Faculty of Medicine - Colombo Sri Lanka.

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