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Help for Fathers

Father’s have told us how hard it is when their family changes and how it can impact on their own confidence, their view of themselves, their relationships both at home and at work, and their own mental wellbeing.

You and your baby

You are so important in supporting your baby to grow and develop that Devon Public Health Nursing (Health visiting service) are keen to ensure that every parent receives key information from the health visiting service about their new baby. We have therefore selected some key information that may be relevant for fathers.

Your child’s red book
We will have discussed your child’s own personal child health record (Red Book) when we visited your home. We would encourage you to have a read through this as there is some key information for you inside. This covers a range of immunisation information, developmental information as well as some useful websites.

Parent texting service
For general questions we have a texting service you can use to ask a member of our health visiting team any questions. Just text your question to our Chathealth parent line on 07520 631721

What is a health visitor?

Health visitors are nurses who alongside our school nurse colleagues offer developmental support and advice, general wellbeing support and signposting around keeping well. We also support with a range of child and young people questions and general parenting advice for families.

Who do I contact when I have a question?

If your baby is unwell the best person to contact is your GP or 111 service. If you are really concerned, you may need to consider A&E.

If you need to discuss something with a health visitor about your baby’s general behaviour, development, feeding, or general parenting or coping with a new baby and feel it needs more than a text conversation you can ring our hub and leave a message for a duty health visitor to ring you back. It might not always be a same day response as we do triage calls as they come in. Our contact details are in your child’s red book or on our fantastic website where you can access a wealth of information in a variety of languages.


Parenting is teamwork all the way so here are some useful tips for you to consider:

Keeping you well
Although at this stage the focus may feel like it is on your baby and your partner, we are also available to support you. Parents who did not give birth to their baby can also feel anxious, worried, or depressed and evidence suggests that they can also experience a form of postnatal depression. You can find lots of useful information regarding mental health at ‘the dad pad’.

It can be useful to ask yourself the following questions to help identify if support is needed for depression or anxiety:

  • During the past month, have you often been bothered by feeling down, depressed or hopeless?
  •  During the past month, have you often been bothered by having little interest or pleasure in doing things?
  • During the last 2 weeks have you been feeling nervous, anxious or on edge?
  • During the last 2 weeks have you not been able to stop or control worrying?
  • If you have answered yes to any of the above question and want support then please contact: us, your GP or Talkworks

Responsive parenting
Babies are learning from before they are born. They need to know you will come when they need you and they need to know you will respond to their needs. They may cry because they need comfort, are uncomfortable, are hungry, are tired, maybe they are too hot or too cold, or maybe they are feeling overwhelmed or bored, they could be unwell or there could be many other reasons.

Icon is a fantastic website that helps you work through why your baby is crying, gives you helpful suggestions on what to do and reminds parents that if they are feeling overwhelmed with crying to pause at the door and take a moment or get support but never shake their baby.

This quick animated video reminds you of some key strategies that can be used.

Handi App
The HandiApp is a great app that helps you check out any symptoms if you think your baby is unwell. Other parents have reported through this video why it is so useful:

Infant Feeding
Feeding can be hard, for the whole family and often parents are left feeling unsure on where to access guidance, help and support. Whatever method you are using to feed your baby, you may have questions or concerns and may benefit from some additional support. We support all parents with these conversations either through ChatHealth our texting service mentioned above or through talking to our duty health visitor. We also have a specialist service that supports breastfeeding and formula feeding parents with more complex challenges.

Family support is a key factor in the initiation and continuation of breastfeeding and the parent who is not actually breastfeeding their baby has a significant role in supporting their partner to breastfeed and to breastfeed for longer. If you feel your partner or baby need additional advice or support with feeding, please visit the Health for Under 5’s Supporting Infant Feeding page.

Safe Sleeping
Sleep is certainly a topical issue when you have a new baby whether it is how you yourself can access more sleep or how to ensure your baby sleeps safely. Safe sleep for babies is about daytime sleeping as well as night-time sleeping and it is really important to ensure the room is not too hot, they do not have any baby nests, duvets, pillows, or soft toys near then when asleep and it is important they are on a flat mattress, asleep on their back and not asleep on a settee. Babies should sleep in the same room as you day and night for the first six months. These strategies can reduce the risk of sudden infant death.

It is also important to consider sleep when you are away from your home environment. The Lullaby Trust provides information that we would encourage every parent to read. One specific article on this topic that we recommend relates to sleeping position.

Some parents may choose to share a bed with their baby whilst other parents may fall asleep with their baby either in the bed or in another location such as the settee without meaning to. This is referred to as co-sleeping. It is good to have information in advance so that you are fully informed as you may be tired also. Did you know that if you smoke, have drunk alcohol, or are on certain medication it can increase the risk of Sudden Infant Death when co sleeping? We also know that sleeping on a settee or armchair increases the risk of sudden infant death by 50 times. Co-sleeping can be managed in a safer way and whether you intend to sleep with your baby or do it by accident it is always worth reading how to be safe.

Further information
There are also resources and social media specifically for Dads which are written by Dads, for Dads. A few to check out include:
The Fatherhood Institute
Andy’s Man Club

Here is a collection of shared stories by real fathers in short video form developed by Alright Mate that may resonate with you.

The impact on dads mental health

The isolation of PND

The stereotypes of fatherhood

Why is it difficult for dads to say they are struggling – part one

Why is it difficult for dads to say they are struggling – part two

If you feel you need support around your wellbeing as a new parent you can speak to visit the Talkworks site for mental health support for Devon, or contact and speak to your GP or to your health visiting team.

ChatHealth Logo

Devon County Council runs a confidential secure text messaging service for parents of children aged 0-19 years called ChatHealth. The service operates Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, excluding bank holidays. All texts will be responded to by a public health nurse (health visitor/school nurse) within 24 hours. Outside of the service working hours, you’ll receive a message back to inform you that your text will be responded to once the line reopens. You can also call our Public Health Nursing hubs on the numbers listed below.

If you are concerned about the safety of a child in Devon, contact our Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 0345 155 1071 or email with as much information as possible.

This page was last reviewed on 04-07-2023

This page will be next reviewed on 04-07-2026