William warns new fathers about nappies and ‘sleepless nights’

By Ted Hennessey, Press Association

The Duke of Cambridge talked about the difficulties he had changing nappies as he told new fathers they should expect “sleepless nights” after the birth of their children.

William said the “hardest bit is the buttons”, as he talked about how fragile newborn babies were, saying: “You do feel like if you move them around too much they are going to break.”

The duke joined a session called Future Dads, run by the charity Future Men which aims to prepare adults for fatherhood, as he discussed fathers’ mental health.

During the visit to the Abbey Centre in Westminster on Thursday, the duke was shown a nappy-changing tutorial where he joked about his personal troubles getting to grips with the process.

“It’s not straightforward, the hardest bit is the buttons,” he said.

“It’s very daunting how tiny they are when they first arrive.

“They are so fragile, tiny little fingers and toes. You do feel like if you move them around too much they are going to break but they don’t.

“Wait until they’re nine months, and they’ll be off.”

William also spoke to the charity’s chief executive Christopher Muwanguzi and stressed that “guys can feel left out sometimes” after the birth of their children.

“A lot of the time you haven’t caught up with what’s going to happen,” he said.

The group then gathered for a discussion on mental health with new fathers.

“Once the lack of sleep starts setting in, the stress levels go up,” the duke – who asked questions and gave some advice from his own experiences – told the group.

“From a young age you’re taught to have a vision, have a plan, have a career and all of a sudden babies come along and you have to start thinking about a lot more.

“I think ladies are a lot more giving, a lot more generous but guys, to make a success of whatever we’re going to do, we get into a rhythm.

“It’s such a change, your whole life goes one way and suddenly you’re told to stop in your tracks.”

William spoke to the group about his own experiences of fatherhood and mental health (Stuart Wilson/PA)

He then heard from the new fathers who brought their babies along to discuss how the scheme had helped them adapt.

William said: “What concerns me is that the guys who don’t know about this programme.

“Their circumstances may be much more complicated, maybe not as well educated, it must be very daunting.

“That’s what worries me about new fathers’ health.”

Paul McDaniel, 53, who is a coordinator for the scheme, said: “We spoke about the practical skills of looking after a baby so being able to do those confidently but competently.

“He spoke quite a lot about his personal experiences of raising his children, so that was really positive to hear and also providing some tips to the dads.

“He told them to be more aware of their feelings and that new dads can struggle with the basics of fatherhood.”

Another father who attended the course, Richard Parry, 35, said William “was interested in the mechanics of the nappy change and commented about how with two it’s going to be double the trouble”.

“In the group we were talking about different ways of recognising mental health,” he said.

“In terms of his own experiences he told us to expect sleepless nights.”