When I first became a dad, I had absolutely no clue what I was doing or what I was in for. In fact, there are some who would argue I'm not in a better place now after 7 1/2 years either but that's another story altogether and for another time.
Having your first child (or children in my case) is as overwhelming as it is exciting. There is no rule or instruction book that comes with each baby. And while most of parenting comes from trial and error and is customized to each wonderfully unique baby, there are some things that I wish I had known back then that would have spared me some anxiety and growing pains.
So I offer to you 46 morsels of expectant dad advice that hopefully will keep you just a little bit more sane than you may have been without it.
- Get a Peepee Teepee. Once you become an expert, you can just toss a wipe over it to block any unexpected geysers.
- Do NOT register for a bottle warmer. They are completely useless. Use a bowl of hot water from the tap and drop the bottle in it for a few minutes.
- You probably don't need a portable changing pad. You'll get so good and fast at changing a diaper it falls under the 10 second rule.
- I've said it before but two words: Amazon Prime - diapers and wipes automatically delivered to your door.
- The Good Night Light: if you ever want to sleep past sunrise, invest in Mr. Sunshine and Mr. Moon.
- Feed twins at the same time. If one is sleeping and the other wakes up to eat, wake the other one up even if you have to open the window in the middle of a polar vortex. Multi-tasking is your friend.
- Accept that fact that changing a #2 diaper will never be perfect - there are just far too many belly folds and hiding places.
- Stick to a schedule no matter what. It just might save your life and your marriage.
- If you're traveling, only book direct flights even if it costs you your second child. There is no room for error here.
- Alternate feedings with your wife or significant other. At least that will usually give you each a 4 hour block of continuous sleep if you’re lucky.
- Always book early morning doctor visits so you don’t end up sitting in the diseased waiting room for hours with little Johnny.
- Wipe warmers are a complete waste of money. And all they do is dry out the wipes so you end up with a brittle dry napkin. Plus, a cold wipe just might jolt them enough to keep them awake for that feeding!
- Accept the fact now that you will be overly exposed to all kinds of bodily fluids from little people. And you won't even care.
- Vomit will not phase you.
- Never burp a baby without a burp cloth on your shoulder especially when dressed for work.
- Skip the Diaper Genie. Simply wrap and tie the dirty diaper in a plastic bag from the grocery store and drop it in the kitchen trash barrel. Yes, for the sake of sanity, you must forgo being 'green' for that short time in your diaper-changing life.
- Sleep is a luxury you cannot afford right now.
- Learn to sleep when they sleep no matter what time it is. Seriously, even if you can close your eyes for 20 minutes on the couch, do it.
- Don’t switch them to a bed until they ask to do so or until they are unsafe in a crib (we used a crib tent until little Houdini escaped.)
- Don’t keep a newborn in your room for too long. Move them into their own room before they get comfortable in yours.
- Don’t let them sleep overnight in your bed. Trust me on this. For SO many reasons. Just don’t do it even though you think it will help you get more sleep - it won't. It won't help with your marriage either.
- Baby proof your house BEFORE the baby comes home. And then invite friends/family over with small kids and see if they can hack into your cabinets or break the gate open at the top of your stairs. Hopefully not!
- DON’T FORGET TO ADD THE BABY TO YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE IMMEDIATELY! In fact, do it the day they are born to be safe! Just call your insurance company and have the baby added. Think of it as your first duty as a dad! This can save you a huge headache down the road.
- If your can afford it, bank their cord blood.
- Put your gym membership on hold for a couple of months if it's allowed. You won’t be going for a while.
- Start asking your friends, family, and neighbors about a babysitter… it will take months, if not at least a year, before you find someone you trust enough to take care of your little angel.
- Be sensitive to your wife’s moods and feelings. Her body just went through the apocalypse so if she seems a little testy or emotional, cut her some slack.
- Take paternity leave!! Preferably right away so you too can bond with the baby as well as your wife (or S.O.)! Take the time to work together to figure out a routine that works for your newly expanded family. Some of those late night, sleep-deprived conversations that you’ll have together are priceless.
- Learn to swaddle a baby.
- Learn to make high-pitched sounds and funny faces. You won’t even care who’s watching if it makes your baby smile.
- Always keep a backup pacifier in your pocket.
- Post pictures and updates on your Facebook page or blog so people won’t keep asking “How are you doing? Do you have any pictures?” over and over again. They mean well but it can be overwhelming after a while when you're working on 3 hours sleep and have vomit on your shoulder.
- Get them into the water (bathtub, sink, pool). It will help them immensely in so many ways. Skip the beach for a while. Between the sand, the blazing sun, and the waves, you might want to wait until they are a little older before hitting Crane Beach.
- Get a baby swing. It may have saved my life.
- Get a jumperoo thingy.
- Those crib mobiles actually worked for us. Wind ‘em up and the awe commences.
- Let the dog be part of the new family. Bring home some used baby blankets from the hospital before you bring your baby home if you can. Let the dog smell them and get used to the smells. When the baby comes home, introduce the two in a safe way. A face lick won’t hurt and they usually love it! Remember, the dog needs some time to adjust too with all the attention now being redirected to the new smelly and loud blob in the corner.
- Make room in the freezer for all the breast milk that is about to be pumped. A LOT of room.
- Clearly label the breast milk. You’ll make that mistake once.
- With that laptop on your belly late at night posting pictures of your new angel, open up a 529 account before it becomes one of those things you keep meaning to do but never actually do.
- Hunker down for a while at home especially in winter. You don’t want to expose your new baby to harmful germs if you can help it. It’s only temporary and you really just want to give them some time to get in a groove before subjecting them to the perpetual cold that they will get soon enough.
- Remember your wife. Remind her that she’s beautiful and you love her. She may not feel it right now and you saying it will make her feel better even though she’ll deny it.
- Don’t just take pictures, take video too. And write. Looking back, it’s one of the things I most cherish about that time.
- Both you and your wife are tired, overwhelmed, exhausted, and have no idea what you are doing yet. Be patient with each other. Learn together. Nobody has all the answers and every kid is different.
- Growing pains are real so when the little guy wakes up saying his legs hurt in the middle of the night (6 times), don't discount his pain.
- Above all, remember... this is just a phase.
Hang on tightly. It's the scariest, but most beautiful, ride you'll ever take.
What tips do you have for the new Dad (or Mom!)?
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