First of all, Congratulations! You are presented with this wonderful new life that you and your wife have created. There are so many things that you need to be aware of since this new human being is very different than anything else that you have imagined. That was definitely the case for me. Here are 20 tips that I am going to pass down from my own personal experience with my daughter. I have used these tips, I loved how these tips made both my and my wife’s lives a heck of a lot easier and I know it will do the same for you too.
1. You Are A Dad Now, Act Like One
You signed up to be a dad to your wonderful child, now it is your turn to fulfill the role that you signed up for. To do that, you are going to be involved with any part of the parenting process as possible, from seeking the information out to actually executing on them.
By getting completely involved from the beginning, like changing the diaper to playing and even bathing the baby. By doing these activities with your baby, you start developing and growing a positive relationship with your baby, one day at a time.
2. Seek Help When You Are Stuck
It doesn’t matter where you got stuck, there is always someone that you can ask your questions to, it could be:
- Your wife,
- Your friend,
- Your wife’s friend,
- A friend that had gone through a successful good parenting experience,
- Your wife’s mommy group,
- Your dad parent group,
- Your parents,
- Your baby’s pediatrician,
- A registered nurse,
- The local health board,
- Your family doctor,
- Your local/regional/state public health website,
- Your local/regional/state parenting website,
- Your local/regional/state parenting support group,
There are so many resources are available for you to find answers or at least a direction to look for your answer. As a dad, you also now have a responsibility to give the best care you can for your newborn. Your pride and ego of not asking questions or thinking that you have all the answers will have to be put on the backburner.
3. Can You Make A Bottle Of Formula Baby Milk Half-Awake?
If you can’t, then you better start learning how to now. If your baby isn’t breastfeeding for any reason, then your baby is relying on formula milk for all of the baby’s nutrition. Your wife is already as tired as hell from taking care of the baby throughout the day, you have the obligation to help out as well and one of the “easier” tasks is to be able to make a bottle of formula milk for your baby in the wee hours (very late at night, 1:00 AM to 4:00 AM)
If you aren’t too sure how to prepare a bottle of formula milk or you just want a refresher, here’s a video on how to prepare a bottle of formula milk.
Remember, that your wife or baby may have his or her own preference, so be sure to take those into consideration as well.
4. Can You Change Your Baby’s Diaper Half-Awake?
Following the format from the last tip, can you change your baby’s diaper when you are half-awake? I have struggled with this one for a while because when I sleep, I really stay asleep until the next morning. It’s hard to wake me up, my wife will say exactly the same thing.
If you are struggling with this one, offer to change diapers more often during the day when you are awake. Your wife will be very surprised that you offered, but is very happy to hear that you are offering to be more involved. You get to spend more time baby-bonding time with your baby. And you also get to train your body, through muscle memory and repetition, to get used to changing diapers more efficiently and effectively. A triple win-win-win on all sides of the family.
Right now, I am the one who does the diaper change in the family and I’m happy about that because this is a skill that I have trained my muscle memory to be able to do. It became super easy to do. Do you want to know something? I even received a compliment from another mom saying that I was able to change my daughter’s diaper very quickly (under 2 minutes, from beginning to end). It felt good knowing that.
5. Your Baby Deserves Your Time
As we are getting more and more connected in our modern world, it gets harder and harder to just turn everything off just to be able to give our full attention to something. Promise your baby something, the more time you give your baby your full attention, the more they will be willing to interact with you in the future. You will also be able to instill your family values and morals to them a lot easier since they are more inclined to listen to you.
If you are having a hard time trying to stop being so connected to your phone, think of it in this perspective, would you like your child, parent, or friend to be splitting their attention with you to their device and you can’t do anything about it because you don’t a device or other friends to talk to because you just came into this world? I personally wouldn’t like that idea myself, so I treat my baby the way I wanted to be treated myself.
6. Your Baby Shouldn’t Be Your Entire World
Your baby may be everything that you can ever have in the world at this moment, but don’t forget about 2 very important people in your life, your wife and yourself.
The relationship you have with your wife was what started this entire parenting journey. She deserves your love, time, and attention as much as your baby does. Show your wife that you care about her, she might be going through a lot of difficulties as a new parent and she might be uncertain. Your job as a husband is to stand by her, support her, and grow together. By doing that, both of your relationships will stay positive and continue to grow strong as you and your family are going through this new path as parents.
Most people neglect or just skip over this, but looking after yourself is as important as everything else. If you are busy trying to take care of your wife and child, who is going to take care of you? So take the time to take care of yourself too, go and step aside for a quick breather, drink some water, drink some coffee, go and take a nice, but quick shower, go read a book, go and do something else for a little while to just change up the routine. In my post, How To Self-Care as a Busy Parent, I talk about some of the how to’s and benefits of taking care of yourself, check it out.
7. Sleep! Sleep When You Can!
Thre is an age-old saying to “Sleep when your baby sleeps” and you don’t know how true that statement is. Your baby doesn’t know if it is day time or night time, your baby just knows its sleep time, diaper time, or food time. You aren’t going to be able to change your baby’s time no matter how hard you try, so why not sleep when they sleep?
An alternative could be that you and your wife agree on taking turns watching taking care of your baby throughout one of the baby’s intervals.
8. Your Baby Can’t Go To Sleep?
You are pretty much doomed until your baby goes to sleep. Try every trick you have in your book, in your sleeves, in your head, through your support network, and even the medical professionals. Anything.
Here are some of the things that my wife and I did when my baby didn’t want to go to sleep:
- Make sure your baby is feeling well, they might not be able to get a good night’s sleep cause they are not feeling comfortable or even in pain.
- Walked around the house, (Funny story, my FitBit actually recorded 10,000 steps walked each night I was walking my baby to sleep… It was crazy to realize that fact)
- The sound of water flowing out of my tap,
- Breastfed the baby,
- Sing to your baby,
- Play some white noise,
- Have a night light on,
- Play some baby lullaby, this is the one I used, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-vBu2rf8TI
- Begin a nighttime routine, getting the baby into a repeatable habit.
- Stay calm, your baby can feel your vibe. If your stressed, your baby will feel and emulate that.
- Just hold out!
Here are some of the other things you can try that has worked for other parents, haven’t tried these personally:
- Take your baby out for a night drive,
- Offering your baby a pacifier, (my daughter hated a pacifier, she would actually keep her mouth open and not hold onto the pacifier)
- Let your baby “cry it out” (funny thing, both me and my wife never had to the heart to do so, people say to let the baby cry for a little while to try to put herself to sleep)
9. Don’t Follow Every Advice For Parents Blindly
I got a lot of parenting advice from a lot of different people, but I couldn’t just follow them blindly. My parents gave me some advice, the internet gave some advice, other new parents gave some advice, but it was up to my wife and me to agree to what information, parenting styles and tactics that we should follow.
Here were some of the advice that we were given:
- Don’t carry your baby (under 6 months) too long or else they are going to expect this in the future.
- Both my wife and I had also asked our child’s pediatrician and she said that baby’s need that parenting closeness, the hugs, and skin-to-skin contact creates that comfort for the baby, that way they can feel calm.
- You can’t always just rush to your baby whenever they cry, they won’t know how to self-soothe in the future.
- I partially agree with this advice, I agree with the idea to not rush to them the moment they start crying but do put the effort in stopping whatever you are doing to go over to the baby to figure out what is wrong. Your baby is crying for a reason, (eg. food, diaper, uncomfortable, or even feeling sick), you just have to figure out what that reason is and solve it.
- Your baby will feel that you are going to take care of all of their worries and they can start to explore other development avenues.
- Talk, Sing, or Read to your baby, give them lots of your loving attention
- I talk to my baby all the time, I want her to remember my voice, the way I speak, feel the gentleness in my voice, and feel the love that I am genuinely giving them. After a couple of months doing that, she stares at me and gets excited when she hears my voice. She wants to verbally communicate with me but she isn’t able to, so she “plays” with me through physical interactions.
- I saw this advice somewhere on the internet that said reading to your baby is a good thing. She now is super interested in her books and wants us to always be reading to her. I am super happy and proud to see that she loves to read and I will forever read to her, as long as she wants to listen!
10. Don’t Be A Helicopter Parent
For those who don’t know what being a helicopter parent mean, here is the definition that I found on the web:
A parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children.Lexico, powered by Oxford (Lexico.com)
As this definition perfectly describes what I am trying to explain, I’ll just give you a brief summary in my own words instead. Let the child fail so they can try again. We all know that in order to learn something ourselves, we either learn from someone else teaching us or having to learn by repeated trial and error. Since babies aren’t able to completely process our verbal communication yet, they will just have to do their own trial and error. But if you are a helicopter parent, you are going to try to prevent your child from failing at whatever they are doing, which results in them not being able to learn from their mistakes.
What my advice to you is to be there and be present when your child is trying to learn something new, make 150% sure that they have a safe learning environment and then just watch them. I’m sure your baby wants you to also watch them learn new things and grow, so why not do exactly that.
11. Be Strict About Bedtime
Strictly following your daily schedule with your baby is very important, it creates a strong habit with your baby to follow preset guidelines or rules that will translate into better behavior in the future.
As a hypothetical example using yourself, if you don’t go to sleep at a certain time, you will start to get tired and if you still don’t sleep after those sleep cues that your body emits off, then your hormones will be released and make you “awake” again. This will happen exactly the same as your baby.
In our family, we are very strict about our baby’s bedtime, when it is 8:30 PM we begin our bedtime routine of showering, night feeding, storytime, then sleep. It has been working effectively for our family and I am not willing to break that cycle.
12. Let Them Watch You Do Your Household Chores And Then Get Them Involved Too!
Here’s a fun little tip for you to try. When you brought your newborn home, you never really had time to do anything but take care of the baby. If you are up for this, then read on for this advice.
What if you had your newborn looking at you doing housework? Your baby gets to be curious about what you are doing and you get some housework done. You can give them something harmless and baby-friendly like a baby cotton towel to play with and you can talk and show them that you are also using a towel to do a wiping motion with your dishes. Your baby will very likely want to emulate that.
My daughter watched me do just that and now she thinks cleaning, or at least the action of cleaning, is fun. I don’t know about you, but I am counting that as a win for me.