To their blogging-addicted other halves, they are simply “DH”: internet shorthand for darling, dear – or even deaf – husband. But the bug is catching: the number of dads starting their own parenting blogs has soared in the past 12 months.
Dad bloggers will take centre-stage for the first time at this weekend’s parenting blogging conference, BritMums Live, which features the first dads’ panel since it started five years ago. Susanna Scott, who runs the BritMums blogging network, says: “First mums started blogging to regain their voice, and now dads want their own voice too. And why not? They’re 50 per cent of the parents.”
Around 5 per cent – or 250 – of the UK’s 5,000 parenting blogs are written by dads, up from barely 100 a year ago. John Adams, who writes at DadblogUK.com, says he had had enough of fathers being frozen out of the parenting scene. “My aim is to highlight the gender barriers men face as parents and to raise the profile of fathers,” he says. “If they are bombarded by the notion that they are second-class citizens, it does nothing to encourage them to be better parents.”
Mr Adams said fathers’ blogs tended to be more “issues-based” than their maternal equivalents. “Men tend to write about custody issues, education, and coming to terms with unwanted children. Women are more likely to blog about family life and post more photos of their children.”
Darren Coleshill, who writes at OneDad3Girls.com, thinks mums are more into talking online about arts and craft, adding: “The dad blogs, I think, often give a completely different take on subjects and perhaps don’t sugar-coat things so much. They say exactly what they think.”
But other dads see more similarities than differences between what dads and mums write. Ben Wakeling, 28, a Warwickshire-based father of three who blogs at GoodbyePertBreasts.com, says: “I’ve talked about my complete lack of sleep; about my views on breastfeeding and bottle-feeding. There’s no stigma any more. Dads are far more open … about these things.”
He thinks brands are “more tuned into the fact that fathers are writing about parenting issues”, adding that he has been asked to review anything from baby carriers to driving experience days. Mr Adams adds: “Businesses have contacted me to say they’ve realised they should be marketing to fathers as well. Some companies approach me because they’re keen to get fathers’ perspectives.”
Research shows that fathers are increasingly involved in deciding what gets bought in the shopping free-for-all that marks a new baby’s arrival, with around four in five dads helping to choose pushchairs or car seats.
Alan Halsall, chairman of the pram manufacturer Silver Cross, says the firm had fathers “very much in mind” with its latest model, designed in collaboration with Aston-Martin – though he admitted he had yet to “reach out” to dad bloggers.
Dads were admittedly scarce at yesterday’s oestrogen-packed opening day at BritMums Live, something that Bristol-based Lewis Lippiatt, who started blogging 15 months ago “to give me a hobby when my son was born”, confessed was “overwhelming”. He added: “We feel like a minority because we are one. But it’s growing.”
At this year’s meeting, in January, 44 brand representatives from Dove Men+Care to Maclaren targeted attendees in an attempt to reach what the US trendspotter Marian Salzman has called the next big advertising demographic.
“Watch out,” said Ms Salzman, who heads the media company Havas PR, “for the rise of child-orientated, masculinity-challenging programme makers, brands and advertisers to reflect the essence of this emerging new reality.”
That said, Mark Richards, who writes at BestDadICanBe.com, warns: “I don’t think PRs take parent bloggers as seriously as they should. They think parents will fall over with gratitude just because they’ve been given something. But I want to maintain the quality of my blog, so I turn down nine in every 10 approaches I get.”