It’s amazing what you don’t know until you know what you didn’t. Although I was around and somewhat helpful for the baby years of my two oldest nieces, there is so much to learn about babying. Here are the top five things I learned about fathering so far that has made life easier for me and my family so far:
- Give Mommy a break. In early life a baby needs Mommy way more than they need Daddy mostly because of needing to eat especially if Mommy is breastfeeding. Mom needs to eat and shower too. Take that baby and cuddle her and learn her coos and her cues. When my wife has her and she is fussy, I can take her and settle her down in about 5 minutes by checking each of her needs: diaper change, burp, too hot or cold, rock, take a walk, and/or butt pat. Just because you take care of one need doesn’t mean there isn’t another one. If you try all of these and she is still fussy, then she is hungry and needs to be fed. If Mommy isn’t ready yet to feed then dad can give the baby his thumb, give a bottle supplement (check with your doctor first), or give a pacifier. I know some don’t believe in pacifiers, but I think if you are not using it all the time and actually giving time to your child it is ok. Mom and Dad need to eat too.
- Go to the Doctor. This baby is yours and you need to know what your baby’s medical needs are. Little Rory has hydonephrosis and I need to know as her father what I can do make that better. It turns out there is nothing I can do for her for her first 6 weeks besides give her amoxacillin nightly. These are burdens that both parents need to take on and work together to get the best results from what the doctor prescribes. Even if you are working you need to take time off to take care of your child.
- Have conversations with her. She is learning every second. Can you imagine everything you see is new to you? That is what she is experiencing. Talk to her about what things are. No… she will not understand you. But she hears the rhythm and sounds and will understand sooner the more you talk to her. DO NOT USE BABY TALK. She will learn wrong vowel sounds and learn to speak incorrectly. You can talk about silly things or politics. She is a great listener.
- Sing to her. I don’t care if you are singer or not. Babies love the repetitive nature of music and the soothing sounds it make. She often joins me with cooing and we have sung several duets so far. It also helps their musical ear. Singing to them helps them identify that pitch is a thing and the sooner they learn what pitch is the more they can learn about it and even develop perfect pitch.
- Take time for yourself. Your family is important, but you cannot be helpful to your family if you are not healthy and happy. For me that means going to the gym and working out. For others that might mean hanging out with buddies and watching the game or going to the mall. Whatever it is take that time when you can get it…sleep doesn’t count. Sleep but not during your time for yourself.