5 Things is a new content series where Playground Dad contributors share 5 tips with new and expectant fathers.
As a first time dad, your toughest challenge is ahead but, at the same time, so is the absolute best time of your life. Being a parent is a gift that is not guaranteed so, regardless of the trials that come with it, enjoy it, be grateful for it and, most importantly, prepare for it. In order to do that, you’ll have to know how to handle being a first time dad AND a husband to a first time mom! Mood swings will come and go so be ready for a roller coaster. I promise it’ll all be worth it!
1. Although you’d think the baby is your first priority, in reality it’s your wife
She’s going to need you by her side for at least the first week or two. You should be there to comfort her and help her in any way you can. She may have mom, sister and best friend there but nothing compares to sharing the first few weeks (at least) of your lifetime as parents together. Post-partum depression is all too common and being there to share in the ups and downs of the first few weeks at home will help show your wife that parenthood is a team effort!
2. Always be prepared
As a mom in law enforcement, I have a small emergency bag in my patrol car. It carries all of the necessities I’ll need in a true life gun battle. As parents in real life, my husband and I carry the same type of bag for our parent emergencies. It is a smaller version of our diaper bag with a diaper, wipes, rash cream, tissues, an extra pacifier, an extra outfit and some baby food or rice cereal. This ensures that, regardless of where I am, I’ll be prepared. We have all run out of the house to make a quick grocery store or gas station trip. This won’t change when you’re a parent, other than you’ll have a baby in the back seat that may decide now’s the time to relieve him or herself. That’s where having an emergency baby bag in your car (along with an actual emergency kit of course) will come in very handy!
3. Babies WILL cry….a lot
This is the only way they know how to communicate. All you can do is comfort them and give them what you think they need. Your instinct will kick in and you will know what to do once baby is here. Sometimes they’ll need to be rocked to sleep, other times they’ll just want the comfort of dad’s arms. Regardless of what it is, don’t freak out every time the baby cries. You’ll know when it’s something serious and, when in doubt, reach out to your closest veteran parent friends. My husband and I called the hospital one too many times in the first month for reasons we now can’t stop laughing about.
4. Help your wife with the usual baby duties…
…this includes diaper changes, bottle making and even breast feeding. Breastfeeding is one of the toughest things to master for new moms and they’ll need your help. Stay beside her and get her anything she may need, including lots of water since breastfeeding requires a lot of hydration. She may need help positioning the baby, checking for a correct latch from your vantage point or just a break while she uses the potty. A lot of moms want to try and do everything themself. Don’t be afraid to take on the 50/50 challenge of taking care of the baby!
5. Don’t be afraid to leave the house
Sure, the doctor recommends you stay indoors for a certain amount of time after delivery. Once you get the go ahead, get out and show your baby the world. Many couples think babies are too young to notice the animals at the zoo, the people at the mall or the kids at the playground. They actually notice A LOT more than you think and the expressions they’ll make will be priceless. Traveling with baby is not the nightmare you’ve been told. Just be prepared and always leave the house with a stocked diaper bag, a stroller and a baby carrier when the stroller is not ideal.
If you’re a dad that would like to share your 5 things with new and expectant dads, become a Playground Dad contributor.
Image Credit: J.K. Califf