Feeling nervous about becoming a father? Wondering how you’re going to take care of a whole other person; see to their needs, guide them through life and not mess them up too badly?
You’re not alone in this. But fret not; kids are made out of rubber and magic and bounce back from pretty much anything.
Besides, dads are responsible for some of the most ingenious parenting out there, so you’re in good company.
Little babies don’t need much
In the very beginning it’s mostly holding them, rocking them, changing diapers, cooing with them, discovering that you can’t stop talking to them in a cutsy little voice, feeding them, burping them, wondering what’s going on in their little brains when they spend an eternity staring at you, watching them sleep, trying to shift your arm that fell asleep without waking them up, and changing some more diapers.
Yes, babies poo. A lot. There was never a truer thing said about babies.
Why do babies poo so much? The little pooper troopers grow like weeds. In the first month alone they grow about an inch (2,5 cm) in length and put on about a pound (500 g) in weight — in just 4 weeks!
By the time they hit 6 months most babies will have doubled their birth weight. By the time you’re pulling out the first birthday cake, they will have quadrupled their birth weight and sprouted an additional 14 or so inches (36, or so, cm).
All that growing takes a lot of food, which babies will constantly consume. Breastmilk is, of course, the best source of nutrition for a little baby because nature engineered it to be like growth fuel, but if it’s not available or in addition to it, they’ll down formula at a rate of about 2,5 ounces per pound of body weight (740 ml formula per 500g).
Feeding is a great opportunity to spend some quality time with your baby. Feeding while in skin-to-skin contact is one of the best gifts you can give them. However, sometimes you need to get creative when your baby gets hungry and you just don’t have enough arms to do it all.
Baby don’t care if you’re in the middle of unpacking the groceries, so a little creativity lets everyone get on with life.
Soon enough they’ll learn how to feed themselves — it’s just a bit hit and miss at first:
Sleep is another thing that babies do in large quantities. In the beginning, they won’t be awake for more than one hour at a time.
Sleep, eat, repeat. They’re really living the life, eh?
They’ll even find a favourite napping spot and won’t care who they have to oust!
In addition to pooping, eating, sleeping and growing your little one will start learning some important life skills. Discovering how to move in three-dimensional space and beginning to master their own body tops the list.
This means that pretty soon your baby will be rolling over, sitting up, crawling around and generally getting everywhere (usually all the places you don’t want them going). This is a great time to start thinking about what needs baby proofing and hop to it.
Letting babies be on the floor on a blanket or in a baby gym is a great way to encourage development. If the baby gym isn’t keeping the little bugger happy you can try some balloons instead:
Rolling around will soon become the new favourite thing and it’ll start to feel like you’re living with a tumble-weed. This means you’re entering the danger zone because the baby will only pick up speed from here. You’re gonna need those dad reflexes, because everything is usually fine until it isn’t:
But that’s why you have a dad. Who said men can’t multitask?
Some babies will make up creative ways of getting around before learning a more efficient way to move around like crawling or walking.
A sitter is something that will definitely come in handy when you need your hands free but still, need to keep baby entertained (and safe).
Don’t have a sitter handy? The shirt off your back works just as well!
When you do need to travel with your baby, you’ll need a car seat. The first few weeks you can manage by lugging it around like a shopping basket, but as the baby gets heavier, the car seat gets exponentially heavier. Lots of brands sell matching latch bases that turn your seat into a stroller or you can get creative.
Lugging around that car seat is hard work. With all your newfound Dad-duties you might find that getting to the gym is a bit of a challenge. Learn to grab workouts when you can.
When you’re craving a work out of a different kind, you’ll need to keep the puppers busy too…
Or if you fancy cold beer on a hot day, why not take it outside? Kids luuurve dem swings.
Even a day at the beach is a fun adventure, especially with dad. Any kid would feel like a superstar.
Just remember to pack spare clothes. For everyone. And always bring diapers — keeping a spare stash in the car is a good idea, because that one time you forget to bring the diaper bag; boom! Every. Single. Time.
We went for our first post-natal checkup and didn’t have our diaper bag with us. The nurse took off the fairly new diaper and had it in the bin before we could shout “Stop!”. We had to dress our daughter without a diaper and run to the car and drive home chanting “Please don’t pee! Honey, you don’t need to pee right? Oh, please don’t pee,” in a nervous sing-song voice. As if that would have stopped it.
Wet wipes are another resource that you should keep in every nook and cranny you can because no matter what is on the menu sticky fingers are guaranteed. You can’t prevent sticky fingers altogether, but you can do your level best to minimise the sticky mcfingers:
In the end, it doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing, because dad makes everything fun.
He’s even got actual magical powers to fix your boo-hoos:
And because you’re the star of your kid’s life, you’ll always be a hero to your kids.
Your little one will do anything to see you smile. Just maybe learn how to pretend-eat for the tea parties?
They’re only little for a little while, so enjoy it while it lasts.