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Partner’s guide to bringing a baby home

8-minute read

Key facts

  • Having a new baby can be a big change in your life.
  • Before bringing your baby home, your house may need some preparation.
  • When your baby arrives home, you and your partner should be equally involved in caring for them.
  • After giving birth or while breastfeeding, your partner may need extra support.
  • It’s important to look after yourself too by eating and sleeping well, and talking to your doctor if you are feeling overwhelmed.

Bringing your baby home from hospital is a major event in any parent’s life. It will take time to adjust to your new life as a family, but your confidence will grow.

Preparing your home for the new baby

Newborn babies don’t need much apart from clothes and nappies. However, you will still need to prepare your home. You should think about:

  • where your new baby is going to sleep
  • how to bathe them
  • where you will change their nappy

Before the baby is born, you will need a cot and a pram. It’s very important to make sure these meet Australian/New Zealand safety standards.

If you are going to drive with the baby in your vehicle, you will also need to organise your car. Make sure you have an approved rear-facing child restraint for your car.

It’s best to have a new cot and mattress, and child restraint. If you do get these items second hand, make sure:

  • they have the Australian standards label still attached
  • that everything is in good working order

You can save money on baby equipment by accepting second-hand baby clothes and toys.

How can I be an involved parent?

After you come home with the baby, try to involve yourself in each aspect of your baby’s care. This will build your confidence as a new parent.

Learn how to:

You and your partner should both play with your baby. Spend as much one-on-one time with your baby as possible. This will help you both bond with the baby, and give each other time to rest.

You can help your baby’s brain develop by:

Responding to your child’s cues will help them to build their first language skills.

How can I support my breastfeeding partner?

Breastfeeding has many benefits, but it can take a few weeks to learn how to breastfeed properly. Your support and encouragement will help your partner keep going.

You can learn about why breastfeeding is important and how it works. That way you can help your breastfeeding partner and notice any issues early on. Encourage your partner to ask for help if they need it.

While your partner is breastfeeding, you can support them by:

  • bringing them a drink or a pillow
  • looking after siblings, pets or visitors
  • settling your baby after the feed

Breastfeeding helps to build a bond with your baby. If your partner is breastfeeding, you can also get close to your baby by:

  • carrying them in a sling or carrier
  • cuddling them next to your skin
  • comforting them when they are crying

What about balancing work and family life?

It can be difficult for parents to balance work and family life.

It is a good idea for you and your partner to discuss:

  • what needs to be done
  • who is going to do it
  • how you are going to manage your finances

Many partners will take some leave from their job when their baby is born. Your partner may be eligible for parental leave pay — a government payment to help you care for a newborn or newly adopted child.

How might my relationship change?

As you and your partner learn to be parents, you might find that you have different opinions on some things. This can be hard.

Talking to each other and listening to each other’s point of view is the best way to overcome these feelings. It is best for your baby if you parent as a team where you:

  • make decisions together
  • agree to your roles as parents
  • deal with conflict calmly and respectfully

Sexual relationships can change after the birth of a baby too. Women who give birth are likely to be advised not to have sex until after their 6-week postnatal check-up. Even then, they might find sex difficult because of:

You can keep the bond strong by:

  • being supportive while your partner is recovering from the birth
  • finding other ways to be intimate (like kissing and cuddling)
  • sharing the work of baby care and household chores

How can I look after myself?

Caring for a newborn baby can be exhausting. You might be feeling:

  • tired
  • stressed
  • overwhelmed

It can be easy to forget about looking after yourself. Try to:

  • eat healthily
  • do some physical activity
  • get enough sleep

Remember, dads and partners can get postnatal anxiety and depression too. It’s very important to talk with your doctor if you are feeling:

  • very tired
  • irritable or angry
  • overwhelmed or like you can’t cope

It can take courage to seek help, but it’s the best thing you can do for you and your family.

FIND A HEALTH SERVICE — The Service Finder can help you find doctors, pharmacies, hospitals and other health services.

Resources and support

The Australian Breastfeeding Association offers support with breastfeeding via the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 686 268.

Beyond Blue offers support and advice for new partners on 1300 22 4636. You can also download Beyond Blue's book, Emotional health and wellbeing: A guide for new dads, partners and other carers.

For more parenting advice, you can visit the Tresillian website, or call their parent helpline on 1300 272 736 (7am – 11pm, 7 days a week).

Emotional support and resources for new parents can also be found through the Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE) website.

Mensline offers support and counselling services on 1300 78 99 78.

The Gidget Foundation website has resources and support for new parents who may be suffering from postnatal anxiety and depression.

If you’re feeling depressed or anxious, or feeling like you might hurt yourself or your baby, you can call:

  • the PANDA Helpline on 1300 726 306 (Mon to Fri, 9am – 7.30pm AEST)
  • Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

Speak to a maternal child health nurse

Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: April 2023

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Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

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