The Sixth Month of Fatherhood

by Bruce Linton, Ph.D.

on dad's shoulderYou've been a dad for half a year now and "on-the-job" training is starting to pay off. You can feel more confident and experienced in how you approach your baby's needs. Check-in with yourself, are you feeling satisfied with your participation in caring for your baby. Do your new responsibilities as a father seem like chores or do you find pleasure in being able to care for your baby.

Is their tension between you and your wife? It is usual for couples to find, at six months, that they have tension that has built up around how the scheduling is organized. Since you baby keeps changing, it is difficult to have a "regular routine." Many new dads find that between home life, work and getting enough sleep...it just can't be done. Tension can build between you and your partner as she has differing needs about how and when things should happen.

It is important to remember that both you and your partner grew up in very different families. Each of us as parents, expects our partner to understand how we want to do things with our baby. From feedings to naps, getting the dishes done or the baby to sleep, all these tasks we usually expect our partners to know the "right" way to do them.

As a marriage therapist at the sixth month I usually try and help couples understand that it is normal for each partner to have a way that they want to have things done or organized that is very different from his partner. It often seems frustrating that your partner doesn't understand what you see as so obvious. It is a very important time for both mothers and fathers ate to understand that they can work together to find the unique way that they will do things in their family together.

You may find that your baby is getting ready for solid food or that a tooth is starting to come in. Just when you get comfortable with a routine...something changes! Tolerance for change is the key survival skill as a dad and a partner at this sixth month.

Here are a few practical tips that new dads have shared with me to get the most out of your 6th month of fatherhood.

For your baby:

  • Notice how your baby can express a wide range of feelings; anger, joy, frustration, excitement, curiosity, frustration. Watch your baby's expressions and see if you can understand how what he is feeling.
  • Your baby can focus much more and when you play together he can respond to your playfulness and excitement. Investigate a stationary walker so your baby can try standing and bouncing.

For your wife/partner:

  • Talk with your wife about the different "styles" of parenting you experienced as children. Conclude your discussion with a commitment to work out the way you will work as a team, together, in the family you have started.
  • Ask your wife to talk with you about what she loves and hates about being a mother for six months. Share the positive and negatives you have learned about fatherhood.

For yourself:

  • Make sure you are eating well and exercising. It is important to take care of your health and exercising will reduce stress.
  • Stay active in your baby's care; give him a bath, put him to sleep, Notice how you feel after you have done these.

Bruce Linton, Ph.D. is founder and director of the Fathers' Forum programs for expectant and new fathers. He is a former contributing editor to "Full-Time-Dads" magazines, and columnist for Parents' News in San Francisco, California. He is the author of Finding Time for Fatherhood. Bruce is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and received his doctorate for his research on men's development as fathers.

Copyright © Bruce Linton. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.