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“I was usually the only dad, but you soon get used to it”

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Ten months was the perfect time to take over from Rachel

Ben, Gateshead, UK

Affie was 10 months when Rachel went back to work 3 days a week. I’d always wanted to be a hands-on dad, so I was really looking forward to it.  

Ben Gateshead

The timing was perfect too. Before then, Affie really just needed her mum. She was still breastfed so I couldn’t help with that, and overall she just needed her mum more than me. But by 10 months we’d started baby-led weaning, so that was easy. I just put some food out and she’d pick up and eat what she wanted. She wasn’t even that messy. For milk, Rachel expressed as much as she could, and we’d top up with formula. We’d done that for a while, so she took a bottle from me no problem.

We went to lots of classes and I was usually the only dad, but you soon get used to it. You’re there as a parent, for your child, so it just didn’t matter. Most of my friends are women anyway, so I tend to hang out with them and their kids rather than the dads. Mums tend to talk about and share stuff a lot more than men - we don’t really get together unless it’s more formal, but my mum friends were happy just to meet up for a coffee and a chat. And that was useful - we were mainly going through the same stuff. Apart from breastfeeding, but it wasn’t a problem. I don’t even notice any more if a mum is breastfeeding while we’re talking - it’s just not an issue.

The only frustration is about my career. I’m an academic so it’s hard spending time on toddler stuff that doesn’t exactly challenge or develop my intellect, and it’s frustrating that I can’t get some projects off the ground that I really want to, but it’s worth it. The decision we made was to both be involved in bringing Affie up, the other stuff can just wait.

The best bit of being a full-on dad has been really getting to know her, being there when she’s doing amazing things, not just being told about it later.

The best bit of being a full-on dad has been really getting to know her, being there when she’s doing amazing things, not just being told about it later. Like when she recognised the letter A and knew her name started with that. And just doing lots of stuff together. She loved baby sign but hated swimming classes. She would scream all the way through. She’s really independent so hated me having hold of her in the water and making her move in certain way. So we started going swimming just the two of us instead and that was much better - she just loved playing in the water and doing her own thing.


Humans survived 200,000 years before any baby book was ever published
When baby number 2 came along, it was me that had the problem.
Read Rachel's story