5 Survival Tips For New Fathers
Here are 5 parenting tips for new fathers that they don't tell you at the hospital. Fatherhood and newborn care is a new life for you, too.
First-time fatherhood is one of the best feelings ever... which isn’t to say that it’s all joyous. The experience is like a roller coaster, and tense moments are to be expected. But with the following five tips, you’ll enjoy the ride more.
1. Write down the details.
Many dads treat the birth experience as the ultimate documentary experience, and rely heavily on cameras and videotape to make the memory vibrant. A more intimate and discrete choice is to write down details as they happen, rather than spend all those moments peering through a lens.
The written history is much more tasteful to share with others, and you will feel much more involved in the process as it happens. Lastly, while you may think your wife has never been more beautiful than she was during the birth process, she may have an entirely different opinion on her appearance. Notes that produce a timeline will help keep the memories vivid, without causing friction.
2. Accept that you are not Mom.
During the early months, especially for breast-fed babies, your infant should show a definite preference for Mom. This is not only to be expected, it makes perfect sense. After all, she’s familiar and the provider of food and obvious comfort. While it’s impossible not to feel a bit depressed by this, you need to get over it as soon as possible. Things will even out soon enough.
3. Babies get bored, too. Do things with them.
One of the best Dad cures for a fussy baby is to carry them around the house and do light chores. Watering plants is always a winner, and loading the dishwasher, washer or dryer is also a solid activity. Chores to avoid include those that have a strong smell component (taking out trash or cleaning after pets). You must, of course, make sure that the baby is safe while you work. But when you do this, you give your baby new stimulus, which is a great cure for fussiness. You also reinforce the idea that everyone in the house does housework. That’s going to help a lot down the road.
Assuming your little one is well and healthy, the early months are also an excellent time to get the whole family out of the house for family fun. Bleacher seats at baseball games (in case your child cries, you won’t be packed in with people around you) are a great idea, and if you are lucky enough to live near a drive-in movie, that’s also a great resource. Later on, taking a trip with your child will get more and more complicated. Enjoy the relative portability of your baby now.
4. Train your child to sleep in non-quiet environments.
While the child’s sleeping quarters should be calm and quiet, too much quiet can make for overly sensitive sleeping habits. Turn on a fan or some other low background noise routinely, and you’ll have a greater margin for error when accidental or outside noises happen. Especially during the early months, the more soundly your child sleeps, the happier life will be.
5. Make sure the adults get love and attention, too.
While the child is getting all of the oohs and aahs from friends, neighbors and relatives, your then-pregnant partner has gone from Expecting Celebrity to Just Another Mom. It’s a very tough adjustment, so be patient, accept the likely increased housework load, and make sure that she knows that you still find her interesting, vital and attractive.
However, it’s also important that you do not sacrifice your entire life for the “benefit” of your family. If you have a hobby, continue it now that the baby is here. Just cut back the time you used to devote to it. Having a release is much better than playing the martyr, and if you are really supporting your partner, this should not cause any friction.
Remember, your child has the uncanny skill to mirror your mood – even if you think you are fooling them with your acting ability. So if your child isn’t happy, and there isn’t a medical reason, start examining your own behavior and attitude for the cause. If you provide a happy and positive foundation of support during these early months, you give your child their best chance for a happy and positive start in life.