New Dad Baby Care Tips
The pride and joy I felt at the birth of my daughter, Isabel, was enormous. She was dark-haired and lovely, a wiggly 8 pounds and 9 ounces, with off-the-charts Apgar scores (an assessment of newborn well-being) -- already so brilliant! Yet once we arrived home from the hospital, insecurity replaced these positive feelings on newfound fatherhood.
I wanted to know how to be a good father, but I really had no idea what I was doing. Fortunately, with some trial and error, I was able to take care of my new baby, be of use to my wife, and even become the go-to guy for many tasks.
I was a massage pro when my wife was expecting, rubbing her neck, shoulders, and feet whenever she was achy. So transferring this small talent over to Isabel was the natural next step. Baby massage has been shown to help tots eat and sleep better and reduce stress; it's also an excellent way for new dads to become closer to their babies. I’d give Isabel a massage using baby-safe oil whenever she was fussy, or before bedtime, or just when I wanted to bond with her (which was often!).
After endless breastfeeding sessions, my wife was often too tired to coax a burp or two out of Isabel. I became the "Burp Whisperer," jiggling, patting, and rocking her until the air came up. While I may have been a pro burper, I’m no professional crooner, but Isabel didn’t seem to mind. In fact, I found that when I sang, the vibration of my Adam’s apple on her head helped lull her to sleep. Jazz, top 40 tunes, even songs I made up on the spot seemed to be music to her ears, and singing to her became a nice bedtime ritual for the two of us.
I quickly discovered that changing a baby’s diaper on a high table is pretty scary -- and potentially unsafe. Whether we were at home or out and about, I found it was much easier for me to set up a station on the floor using a diaper pad. If I needed to take my hand off Isabel to wrestle with the wipes or cream, she was secure on the carpet.
One other thing I learned as a new dad: Your baby will grow up fast and you’ll miss these bonding experiences later on. My biggest tip on early fatherhood: Don’t look at baby care as a chore, but instead as something sweet and exciting. You’ll remember these times fondly for years to come.