Once upon a time, in what seems like a parallel universe, fathers were never expected to change nappies (diapers). In a strange and crazy period it was seen as a ‘woman’s’ role. Fast forward to the 21st century and there are nappy changing dads taking on more duties than you could possibly imagine.
“While daytime nappy changes are largely the responsibility of the mother, likely due to mums spending the daytime caring for their child whilst on maternity leave, Britain’s dads are taking the lead with night-time nappy changes where men are increasingly occupying spaces previously thought of as ‘feminine’ – spending more time on housework and taking a more proactive role in parenting.” Charlotte Libby, senior beauty analyst at Mintel
In fact, in 2016, analysts at Mintel reported that 7 in 10 dads do all the night-time nappy changes even though they are on the brink of exhaustion. This doesn’t factor in the fact that many may have to be at work the next day as well, depending on the maternity/paternity arrangements.
We all know dads have a lot of battles ahead as we progress to change the way the world views men who are fathers. This particular area is one that gets underplayed a lot and does not give dads the credit they deserve when it comes to responsibility of the ‘nappy duties.’
When Daddy Meets Nappy
Almost all marketing of nappies everywhere is aimed more directly at women whether it is television, radio, posters or even the packaging themselves. Of course, they don’t need to say it outright but we as a society have become so used to seeing a joyful mother cuddling her baby. It builds trust and sends out a message of love & security.
What it also does is cast dads aside in terms of their status and responsibilities causing doubt and confusion in the role, a father should play in that part of the child’s life. Walking down the baby aisle of a supermarket can be a pretty daunting place as a dad. It’s enough to make you want to take the easy route and cave in to the stereotypical marketing messages designed to undervalue the contribution of fathers in this department.
Society’s Culture Shock – Don’t Forget To Wipe
For dads everywhere, this century will deliver the ultimate culture shock to society and the way it perceives the role of a father and the fictional limitations it places on them. For the first time in history, dads are speaking out about their rights to be treated equally, just as women fight passionately for gender equality as a whole.
For example, ‘The Dad Network’ led a campaign backed by baby equipment manufacturer, Tommee Tippee about more public baby changing facilities being made available for dads. It has made great strides in addressing some of the issues dads face which are blissfully swept under the carpet even to some extent where they are refused permission to change their children hygienically.
DaddiLife also has made some headway here – working with the Working Families charity to address the issues around Shared Parental Leave.
Social conditioning is at play here and it will take a united and strong effort from passionate fathers everywhere to change and wipe these dated stereotypes, discriminations and negative beliefs about the role of dads in nappy changing.
Don’t Stay Clear, Embrace The Fear
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It is absolutely natural for any parent to be terrified (mum or dad) the first time they change a nappy. The pressures for dads is amplified for reasons mentioned above but also other personal dilemmas which the world can not fully fathom from a male perspective.
You may be worried about not doing it right, hurting the child in any way or even whether you will be judged as an inadequate father if you make a mistake. There is a lot of information at the moment about fathers also going through post-natal depression. This can also add to the burden and pressure of feeling like you are letting the child and in some cases the mother down.
You will be pleased to hear that it does get easier. Once you have changed 3-5 nappies, you will begin to feel like a natural but remember practice makes perfect. The routine can also become an increasingly important bonding routine between father and child. It helps build trust and security for the child and as they move in-to their toddler years. Nappy changing dads can use it as a time to have cuddles and smiles during the process. After all, you only get to change your child’s nappy for a few years but you will remember it forever.
View from the experts
Violet Reid, Founder of Sheamooti.
“Dads are definitely getting more involved, even during the early stages of pregnancy. For example, massaging mum’s tummy with a moisturising oil is a great way to bond with the baby before the birth. As attitudes change, dads are getting much more hands on in general too, with things like nappy changing, bath time and getting up for night feeds slowly becoming the norm. Being calm, organised and prepped always helps at nappy changing time.”
Georgina Fotopoulou, Brand manager at Sudocrem UK.
“Almost 700,000 men becomes fathers each year, and a further 1 million have children under two – but, despite this, men still face difficulties when trying to keep their babies clean and dry. Sudocrem Care & Protect teamed up with The Dad Network to poll the nation’s dads, and found that nearly half (47.5%) of dads stated that they have had no choice but to change their children’s nappies in their car, and a further 1 in 10 (9.9%) have in fact had to resort to using the floor of a public toilet. It’s time to recognise that dads change nappies too, and this is why Sudocrem Care & Protect has been campaigning for change with an award scheme to recognise the importance of good facilities. The Sudocrem Care & Protect Baby Changing Room Awards, in collaboration with the Dad Network and the NCT (National Childbirth Trust, the UK’s leading parenting charity) launched a new ‘Dad’s Toilet’ category this year to highlight the need to make places more accommodating for both mums and dads.”