posted in Mom Stories
We hear a lot of great, practical advice and tips for expectant moms – but what about all those dads-to-be out there? While the shelves are full of baby books geared towards women, the guys often seem to be an afterthought, left to figure things out as they go.
This list is for them.
One relative newbie to fatherhood took it upon himself to share his top ten hard-earned tips on the social media site Reddit recently. His post was met with eternal gratitude, along with dozens more suggestions from other dads who’ve been there, done that. What they ended up with is a gold mine of information for men about to take the leap into diaper duty.
Here are some of my favorites…
1. Be prepared.
Don’t wait until your baby’s actually here, and crying, to learn the basics of sanitizing bottles, storing breast milk, washing newborn clothes, etc. Get ready in advance because, as one father so aptly put it: “Learning while sleep deprived sucks.” Also, try to stock the freezer with some quick and easy meals.
2. The truth about poop.
“You’re going to see and smell terrible, terrible things. The first few baby poos are like tar.” (On that note, a few dads recommended smearing Vaseline on baby’s bum to prevent that tar-like poop from sticking.)
3. Sleep when your baby sleeps.
“For the love of god, just do it.” If mom’s up with baby, though, you probably should be, too. “For night time feedings, you change the kid, mom feeds. Especially important advice if mom had a C section,” advises one dad.
4. Get a tough phone case.
Your trusty smart phone is about to take a beating as your baby will want to “play with it, bite it, drop it and smash it.” As one dad admitted, “I now no longer have a phone. Baby has a phone which I am allowed to borrow, sometimes.”
5. Baby’s crying? Get creative.
One dad offered this tried-and-true tip for when baby is unsettled: “Nappy – food – warmth – wind/burps – cuddles. If you get to 5, rinse and repeat.” That being said, don’t be afraid to try new techniques, too. “Try random shit to soothe your baby if things aren’t going well. Mine loves to be held right under the cooker hood fan on full. No white noise app produces the same effect. Who knew?!”
6. Put in the time.
“Spend as much time as you can with your kids from day one. This means trying to make them part of your routine when you do things and go places.” Take them with you to run errands or out for a walk. Eventually, have them help with work around the house and involve them in your hobbies. They’ll love it, and so will you!
7. Learn how to (politely) say no.
“Get good at being tactful with visitors: figure out how to say ‘no’ when it’s a bad time,” cautions one experienced dad. Same goes for all those well-meaning strangers who want to touch your new baby.
8. Take care of mom.
“Take charge of cooking, cleaning, laundry and other household chores” so that your partner has time to feed, rest and recover. Also important: Keep an eye on mom’s mental well-being. “Postpartum depression is a real thing, and it can really mess with mom’s head, and thus her health. If you suspect it is in play, get help sooner than later. Just call your doctor, and they’ll refer you to the right place.”
9. Take care of yourself, too.
Include handy nice-to-haves like snacks, an extra pillow and a sleeping bag in your own hospital bag. You might not be the one in labor, but you’ll be there a while, too. Also: “Lift weights to train for holding an increasingly heavy human for long periods.”
10. Add a baby emergency kit to your car.
“A few spare towels, baby wipes and a handful of nappies also maybe a backup pacifier if you go that route,” is one dad’s advice. And don’t forget a change (or two) of clothes for your little one, as well.
11. You’re in this together.
While stumbling through the fog of sleep deprivation, try to be kind and forgiving to each other: “You’re a team and you’ll do this better if you cut each other some slack!” And as soon as you’re able to, try to prioritize a baby-free date, “even just for a coffee.”
I just love this list, and will be passing it along to the guys I know who are teetering on the brink of fatherhood.
One other suggestion that was mentioned many times on Reddit had to do with sleep training, but it proved to be a pretty controversial one. Some were in favor, others against, with passionate opinions expressed on either side of the debate. I guess it just goes to show that moms and dads aren’t all that different after all!
What tips for new dads would you add to this list?
Photos: iStock, ThinkStock