By Daddy Nickell
The birth of your first baby equates to the birth of a new you—the new dad! As most of the attention is on mom during the nine month preparation period, dad often gets left behind in learning about and preparing for his new life. Having a family, and the birth of your first child, will forever change your lifestyle, environment, and thought process. Dads need to be prepared to embrace this change. Trust me, the rewards will be plentiful. Just wait until your new baby smiles at you for the first time—or the first time they call you dad!
Newborns wake up every 2-3 hours (as you have likely learned) to have their diapers changed and to eat. Yes, that means when they are up, so are you. You are in for a serious change in lifestyle. In the beginning, that means complete lack of sleep, which means things can spiral out of control. And quickly. Pay attention to the tips in this guide, and instill them into your daily routine. Remember that you and your partner are in this as a team. Find ways to support and help each other out.
- Teamwork. Remember that you and your partner are in this as a team. If mom is breastfeeding, she will likely be up for often than you. Find other ways to help around the house and with the baby. Make sure the house is clean, make breakfast in the morning, and get up for a few diaper changes in the middle of the night. If you do it enough, you can almost change a diaper and re-swaddle in a semi-sleep. And if you do this as often as possible, mommy and baby will love you even more.
- Visitors. Once you get home, you will be tired. Everyone will be exhausted, busy, sore, hungry, and in a constant state of sleep deprivation. Dad, it’s your job to keep the family and friends under control. Help reduce the number of visits, phone calls, and repetitive questions by updating people via email and social media.
- Diapers. Learn to change diapers. This is not difficult but it is a little different depending on whether your baby is a boy or girl. The best place to learn is at the hospital. Have a nurse help you through the first change so you feel confident when you get home. Learn the difference in using diaper cream, moisturizing cream, and baby powder. Be the pro—remember mommy and baby will love you even more.
- Swaddle. Not only should you learn to swaddle your baby, you should also become the “King of Swaddling” in your home. Just as learning how to change diapers, learn how to swaddle your baby while you are at the hospital. A good swaddle makes for a happy and confident baby!
- Love & Affection. You might not feel the gushy emotions for your baby right away. If you do, that is great! If not, that is ok, too. Give yourself time to process and adjust to your new life. Make time to interact with your new baby one-on-one every single day. Believe it or not, the diaper changes, swaddles, and pacing through the house in the middle of the night will help you bond with your baby.
- Rashes & Baby Acne. The rash will go away. With a newborn baby, mom and dad can get nervous if all of a sudden baby has a huge rash somewhere on the body. Calm down, be patient, and reassure your partner that it is going to be ok. Babies can develop red spots, redness, rashes, bumps, etc. very quickly and for a variety of reasons. It could be something mom is eating or even something in the environment. Most rashes will go away within 24 hours, just keep an eye on it. If the rash persists for more than 24 hours, or your baby appears to be in severe discomfort, call or go see your doctor to make sure all is ok.
- Get Outside. Take your baby for a walk. If you are home, and the baby has been changed and fed, offer to take your new bundle for a walk in the stroller or carriage. Not only does this give mom a minute to go the bathroom in peace or even take a shower, it is an excellent opportunity for you to bond with your baby.
- Routine. Write down the routine. Routines for babies are extremely important, and they are easy to lose track of when you are sleep deprived, trying to work, and not eating on a regular basis. Grab and extra notebook, dedicate it to baby, and start writing down the following:
- Wake up time
- Pee or poo times
- What baby ate and when
- Sleep times
- Breastfeeding information
With all this information written down, you won’t have to worry about remembering the last time baby ate, or if they pooped today. You will have all of the information in one spot. You will start to learn your baby’s schedule, and suddenly, life gets easier.
9. Cell Phone. Put down the cell phone when you are with your baby. Give your baby your undivided attention when you are with them. They deserve it!
10. Support. The last and most important rule is to be supportive of your partner. Mom is always right-even if it sounds crazy. Let her have the final say. She needs to find peace, and you need to support her. There is zero benefit in arguing over pacifiers, blankets, or types of diapers. In the long run, it is more important to spend time with your new family, and help in any possible way you can. I assure you, she will love you even more!
Good luck out there…you’ll do great!
Happy Parenting Dads!
Parenting Expert and father of 7, Robert Nickell (aka Daddy Nickell) offers his “5 cents” worth of advice to expectant and new parents. Daddy Nickell is the founder of Daddy & Co., delivery room duds and daddy gifts and apparel for every stage of fatherhood, and the Daily Daddy Blog. He is also the creator and producer of “My Life as a Dad,” the groundbreaking new web series that showcases celebrity fathers offering their personal experiences and parenting tips.