Entering fatherhood is a lot like learning to swim: You breathe and kick, hoping to make it to the other side of the pool without gulping too much water. Cradling a fragile infant in your arms, struggling to place her flailing limbs in her shirtsleeves, or calming a sobbing newborn in the middle of the night can seem daunting, if not impossible, for a new dad. But there’s definitely a light at the end of the tunnel. Here’s what I wish I had known back then:
Thanks to my wife, my girls had all kinds of coordinated outfits with matching knit caps. But, every ensemble I came up with was just a bit, well, off. My tip to all new dads: Don’t worry about it! Ignore the stares from strangers as you push your kid through the supermarket in her Halloween costume. Turns out, new babies don’t know red from blue, or flowers from paisley, so as long as your little one is dressed warmly and comfortably, she’ll be fine.
Newborn crying can be hard to take, and not only because the screeches can bring on a headache; they can also make you doubt your fatherhood skills. But keep in mind that crying is how new babies communicate -- and it’s not necessarily a reflection of how good a new dad you are -- so try to take it in stride. I practiced different calming techniques, like swinging my daughters gently from side to side or using a pacifier. Believe me: You’ll eventually find one that works.
Napping is not only allowed when you have a new baby; it’s strongly encouraged! Late-night feedings, endless diaper changes, and hours of patting your baby to bring up a burp can be exhausting. Lie down -- it’s okay! I aimed to sneak in some sleep when I put my daughters down for a nap. We all woke up in a better mood.
When your new baby is wailing beyond belief, don’t hesitate to make a call to the pediatrician, especially when nothing seems to soothe her or you notice a rash that you swear wasn’t there an hour ago. Your doctor expects to hear from new dads and moms, and talking to an expert will put your mind at ease.
Sure, life is forever altered once your new baby arrives, but not everything has to be tossed out the window. Tiny babies are a pretty adaptable bunch and tend to enjoy being held as you watch hockey, go out for brunch, or just lounge around and read the Sunday papers. So enjoy your time as a new dad!