Raymond Sigarlaki, son Ziv and wife Kelly who's expecting baby no.2
When Thomas Ng’s first child Emmalyn was born in August 2013, it was right after the Government implemented a one-week paternity leave scheme for dads. He gladly took the leave to bond with his newborn for the first week after birth.
Now that Ng and his wife Ashlyn are expecting a second daughter, who is due in June this year, he is grateful that he'll be able to spend even more time with her. This is because from 1 January this year, fathers will be eligible for 2 weeks of Government-Paid Paternity Leave.
The 35-year-old business development manager is planning to stagger the two weeks' Paternity Leave. He intends to use it during the transition period when his wife comes home from the hospital to help her cope with the newborn as well as for the first few days when the baby starts going to infantcare. He’s also hoping to set aside several days to spend some couple-time with Ashlyn before she resumes work.
Paternity Leave can be taken continuously as a two-week block after the birth of the child, or flexibly within 12 months as long as there is mutual agreement between the employer and employee.
“Taking care of a newborn for a new mum can be a very stressful, lonely and tiring period. While there are just some things that we as dads cannot do physically, sometimes, just being there, talking, soothing and helping out around the house and with the baby will help our spouses recover faster and feel happier.”
The fathers who SmartParents spoke to said that they really appreciated the extended paternity leave. They pointed out that the extra time at home gives them the opportunity to forge closer bonds with their infant, while adjusting to the rhythm of having a new addition in the family. Those with older children also cherish the chance to spend additional time with them and ensure that the older siblings do not feel neglected with the arrival of the newborn.
In fact, Ng feels that the paternity leave scheme benefits mums more than dads. He explains, “Taking care of a newborn for a new mum can be a very stressful, lonely and tiring period. While there are just some things that we as dads cannot do physically, sometimes, just being there, talking, soothing and helping out around the house and with the baby will help our spouses recover faster and feel happier. Happy wife, happy life.”
Says another soon-to-be second-time dad, music director Raymond Sigarlaki, 39, a Singapore PR, who is expecting a boy in June with his wife Kelly. “The baby doesn’t come with a manual, so it takes time to learn. It’s helpful to have that extra time where I can really focus on the baby and wife and not have to think about work.”
When his first child, Ziv Dael, now 6, was born, Sigarlaki says he did pretty much everything at home, except breastfeed his baby, as they don’t have a maid. He believes that being hands-on has made him more resourceful in learning how to care for an infant.
As second-time dads, both men have no plans to make special preparations as they feel pretty confident this time round. They also look forward to bonding with their new babies during their paternity leave.
Daddy- Child Bonding
However, for first-time fathers, carrying a tiny and fragile newborn may seem like a daunting challenge.New dad, Mark Tay, 29, was initially apprehensive about accidentally hurting his baby son Luke, but quickly got over the fear once he held on to Luke for the first few times. Mark now carries and cuddles him as often as possible. “I would also move his arms and legs, gently of course, to try and stimulate him and give him some exercise.”
Sigarlaki, also believes in showing lots of physical affection to his son. One of his favourite outdoor activities with Ziv Dael was to carry him in his baby carrier while out and about. This way, he could stare into his baby’s eyes, whisper into his ear, kiss his head, hug him or simply just inhale his “baby scent’ !
Music is also a great way for parents to bond with their babies. Thomas enjoyed the time spent putting his now 3-year-old daughter, Emmalyn, to bed. Every night just before she turned in ― he would sing songs to her and watch as she drifted off to sleep. Even today, the proud father says that besides asking him to chat with her at night, she still requests that he sing to her, as well as tell stories.
Every night just before she turned in ― he would sing songs to her and watch as she drifted off to sleep. Even today, the proud father says that besides asking him to chat with her at night, she still requests that he sing to her, as well as tell stories.
From 1 July 2017, working fathers of Singapore citizen babies could get even more leave to spend with their newborns. They will be able up to four weeks of their spouse’s 16 weeks’ maternity leave, up from the current one week.
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