In most cases, a man’s life can be measured with is a series of firsts. There’s your first breath, your first day of school, your first girlfriend, your first car and your first job, but then comes the one first that really changes your life: your first child.
You can read dozens of books on birth and parenting and watch countless amounts of YouTube videos yon what to expect as a new father. You can attend Lamaze birthing classes with your wife and receive an endless litany of advice on new fatherhood from any mother.
You will be as prepared as any man who will soon become a new dad. Then the big day will arrive. Your Lamaze training will click in, and the birth of your first child will be a memory you’ll never forget. After a quick stay in the hospital, you’ll took our precious bundle of joy home.
This is when it hits you. After months of instruction and advice, you suddenly go blank. What do you do? How do I hold them? Can I really change messy diapers without losing my lunch? What if they won’t quit crying?
Stop. Breathe. There’s no need to worry—you’ve prepared for this.
Here are some tips and tricks to remind you that you’re ready to start this adventure as a new dad:
Holding and Carrying Your Newborn
Getting comfortable holding and carrying your new baby is very important to help reduce your anxiety as a first-time father. As precious and small as they are, your newborn is sturdy and resilient. They won’t break like a china doll. The important thing is for you to be aware of where you’re walking to avoid any obstacles that could cause you to trip or fall. The so-called “football carry” with one arm should only be used when you absolutely need to use the other arm for a necessary task while you walk. Otherwise, always try to hold your baby with both arms.
Cradle Your Baby
Gently cuddle your baby close to your chest with a perfect view into his eyes. This allows your baby to gaze up into your eyes for reassurance. It’s also the perfect time for you to bond with your baby with skin-to-skin contact.
Soothe Baby’s Tears
While it might be tempting to hand your crying baby over to mom, it’s important you learn to stand strong and comfort your fussy baby. Try singing to your newborn. Even if you can’t carry a tune, your baby won’t judge you. Walking around and gently rocking your baby can also help to ease their tears.
Make Silly Faces
Being a funny and silly dad to your newborn can work wonders. Start with a silly face and watch your baby suddenly break out into a smile. As they grow older, you can add peekaboo games to your comic routine for a giggle that’s sure to make you swoon.
Give Your Baby a Massage
Babies respond positively to touch. When your newborn is quiet and happy, gently rub their legs, belly, neck and arms for about twenty minutes. Using essential oil or baby lotion can also help to calm your little one and prepare them for a nap.
Taking your turn at diaper changing won’t impact your baby as much as it will your wife. Sharing the diaper-changing routine is something every new father should do. Even though the smell might get to you, talking calmly to your baby can help to make the process more comfortable for both of you.
Sleep is one of the most important things a mother needs in order to have the energy and sanity to handle the baby through the day. If you work outside of the home during the day, try to let your wife sleep as much as possible throughout the night.
Offer to be the one who responds during the night when your baby cries, letting your wife get her much-deserved beauty sleep. Not only will you be a night-time hero in your wife’s eyes, you’ll also have the opportunity to spend alone time bonding with your newborn.
Most importantly of all, remember that parenting is a learning process. Mistakes are bound to happen, but just remember that you and your wife are in this together. So keep on trucking, Dad—you and your wife are doing a great job!