Parenting Tips for First Time Dads
After months of waiting, the time has come and gone. For a little under a year you’ve rubbed feet, and lower back. You’ve braved various “birthing” classes and read as many books as your time allowed. You’ve been given tips from other fathers, whether solicited, or not. The moment you were waiting for has come and gone. Now, one of the most incredible moments of your life, the birth of your first child, has given way to something else. After all the preparation you’ve now set about the task of figuring out what exactly it is you’re to do with this newborn baby. And quite frankly, you’re left scratching your head like that guy in the produce aisle who stands there glazed over, seemingly overwhelmed at the enormity of what is in front of him.
It’s no secret that many men look at the early bond between mother and infant and wonder “Where do I fit in?” You look at that beautiful infant who seemingly does nothing but poop, cry, eat and sleep and wonder, “What can I do? She/he doesn’t do anything?” So, you fall back on those masculine instincts and decide that you’ll do what you know. You’ll take those gadgets you bought in anticipation of the birth and capture everything your baby does. Around this same time you also begin to imagine all the things you can do with your child when he or she is older. The footballs you’ll throw, or the suitors you’ll scare off. The first birdhouse you will build together or the father/daughter dance. All those wonderful things you’ll do when your little one “does more.” Some guys I know feel guilty for having these thoughts or feelings but for men who, by nature of the process, are not as bonded physically with the infant, these feelings are quite natural.
Allow me to offer up this notion. To reconnect, live in the moment. You see, in order to journal everything through the lens of a camera or camcorder, you have to step back from the action a bit and disconnect. To help you stay in the moment, I’ve given you something you’ll probably like…a list. Trust me, time goes by fast and before you know it you’ll be sending your new bundle of joy off to college and wondering where the time went.
Newborn Parenting: Dad’s List
- Help with breast feeding - I know you may be thinking, “What can I possibly to do help with that?” You can actually help ensure that the baby is properly “latched” on to mommy as she might not be able to tell from her angle. Prior to the actual feeding you may offer to make sure that mom has all the pillows she needs and is properly supported to comfortably feed baby. There are actually breast feeding pillows you can buy to help facilitate this, but in the absence of finances to purchase one, any pillow will do.
- Napping – I know you and mom may both be concerned about your ability to “be gentle” with baby, but I don’t think you’ll be crushing your little one any time soon, so take a nap with your baby. One of the most wonderful memories I have from when my daughter was an infant is a picture my wife took of me napping with her laying on my chest. I remember that day, dozing off, like it was yesterday and that picture only cements the wonderful bond I have had with my Princess since she was just a newborn. This benefits baby because he/she will get the chance to further become acquainted with daddy’s scent and let’s face it, this kind of tender, appropriately intimate moment never hurts!
- Include Baby – I have a friend who is a huge Patriots fan and since his infant was weeks old he has watched football games with her. Now that she’s old enough to hold her head up on her own and sit up, she sits right next to him on the couch during those marathon Sundays of football viewing. You know what? Now, she actually responds to him as he responds to the games! Just make sure that you bring baby into the game. You’ve got a captive audience. Involve baby and you’ll have a game buddy in no time. You see, you don’t need to wait for tomorrow to enjoy sports with your baby boy or girl. Today is a great day to start.
- Talk to Baby – Remember when baby was en utero and you used to talk to mommy’s tummy all the time? That doesn’t have to stop now that baby is born. Of course, you won’t be talking to the tummy any more, you actually get to talk to the baby directly so go ahead and tell him or her about all the wonderful things you’d like to do when they get older. Tell baby about your ideas and daydreams of tossing the ol’ pigskin around or donning a Tux for that Father/Daughter dance. You’ve got a captive audience and, ultimately, one which deeply desires to interact with you.
- Bathing – Last, but definitely not least, bathe baby on a regular basis. Make bath time your special time. Sing a funny song while bathing baby. Tickle your little one. This is play time for both of you and just another opportunity to nurture a bond that will hopefully last a lifetime.
The great thing about all of these tips is that not only you and baby benefit from your being “in the moment,” but mom benefits by getting a moment. She’s with baby day and night right now and getting some time to herself to sleep or do whatever she needs to recharge, will work wonders for everyone in the household.