As I reflect back on the first 3 years of fatherhood, and I look forward to my next son, I’m reminded of the things I learned early on. I have written them down here as a list of my top 5 pieces of advice for new dads. Why 5? Well there are plenty more, but people like to see lists and this is just short enough to grab your attention, but hopefully long and detailed enough to actually help you out. Also, I am by no means an expert in this field, but these are the 5 things that helped ME personally in the beginning. I hope you will find them helpful as you begin your own journey. Enjoy…
1. – Diapers
Go out and buy yourself some “overnight” diapers. These are ridiculously absorbent. They last about 8 hours and can really save you during night feedings. When my wife and I became new parents, it was my job to go and get the baby in the middle of the night, bring him to mommy for a feeding. I would go back to sleep and when feeding was done, mommy would wake me back up and hand him back to me. I would change his diaper and put him back in his crib. The problem was he would fall asleep during his feeding and I would end up waking him back up to change his diaper. Good luck getting him back to sleep then, without a boob (and really who can blame him?). Overnight diapers allowed for a smooth feeding and quiet return to the crib which helped for all of us.
2. Dote away!
You cannot spoil a baby under three months of age. A lot of parents like to tout how they toughen up their child by not jumping every time they start to cry. Which is great, as long as it’s done after 3 months. If a baby cries within the first 3 months, then they need something. Whether it be a feeding, a burp or maybe a diaper change (Although my son RARELY cried from a dirty diaper. I think that one may be a myth). I have found from my own experience as well as the experience of others, that you cannot spoil your child until that 3 months stage has arrived. That’s when they start to figure out that if I cry, mommy (or Daddy, but usually mommy) will hold me.
3. Spying in the 21st century
Video Baby monitors rock! Some people swear by baby monitors and some people are against them (for whatever reason) entirely. In our house we were given a video baby monitor as a gift and it’s been by far our most used baby item. You may be asking why a video monitor is better than a regular monitor, and my experience will tell you why. My son (like many others) would cry his eyes out when it was time for bed. Thankfully my wife and I were on the same page and agreed that letting him “cry it out” was in his best interest, and in ours in the long run. Well, the only problem was that my son often cried until he vomited everywhere, and we’d clean him, then he’d falls asleep. One night he finally fell asleep after about 15 minutes of crying-it-out. I peeked in on the video monitor and noticed some darker colours on his sheet. I crept inside to investigate only to find he was covered in vomit. He was asleep, but he was freezing cold. Well, on came the light and everything including the baby got changed and he fell back asleep without incident. If we had only had an audio monitor (or no monitor at all) then I wouldn’t have noticed the vomit until a few hours later when I checked on him before bed. The video definitely saved us all that night. That’s just one of many times it’s helped us out.
4. Leave your wife
Well, temporarily at least. Give mom alone time. Alone from you and the baby. Once in a while take your baby for a walk around the neighbourhood without mom. Let mom sleep, go to the mall, go for a jog or anything else really that she might appreciate. Moms are the strongest beings on the planet but some times they need alone time. Time to remind them of who they were before becoming a mom. It’s easy to lose your identity when you become a parent. If you don’t reconnect with that once in a while, it can lead to other issues down the road. That being said, some of my most fun jogs, have been with the jogging stroller. It’s amazing how much a baby can disarm those around you. When I jog on my own, often times people don’t make eye contact, or get startled when you pass them. Every time I run with my son, I get people waving, nodding and even the occasional honk. It’s refreshing to say the least.
5. Become a Hoarder (Within reason)
Save everything salvageable, and I don’t mean stuff like, toenails or bit of umbilical coards (I’ve heard of worse things). Rather I mean clothing, shoes, toys etc. When we had our son, I remember telling my wife I was happy with one child. We were both content with one. We were never going to go through it again. There was no need, we are lucky enough to have one in our life, no need to go through the tortuous stages or a newborn ever again. Well that was 38 months ago and guess what, today my wife is 38 weeks pregnant again. It’s true what they say, you really do get “baby amnesia” and forget how sleepless it all really was in the beginning. Once our son got to be more “fun” and was able to play around, we realised this was not as bad as we first thought, and realised having another (If we were able to) was a decision we now had the experience to make. Thank goodness we saved all his stuff because we are having another boy. It’s like winning the lottery, we already have 95% of everything we’ll need to raise this one. So never say never and save everything! Good luck.
Keep your head up and your nuts covered