Don’t be afraid to change your baby’s nappies right from the very first time she arrives home. Make it a fun time as well, by singing little songs, or tickling your baby’s feet or tummy while you do it. Subconscious bonding occurs while you do this, as she smiles at you, and you smile back at her. Each time you do this, you are reinforcing the link and love between you. Such a mundane yet intimate task as changing a nappy, lays the seeds for a very strong and involved relationship between you and your child as she grows up.
Whenever possible, try to be present for every bath time. Get used to holding your baby in the water, while you wash her. This will give you the confidence to handle her in a potentially dangerous situation, and create trust between you and your baby. It will be another reinforcement for your growing bond together as well.
Make sure you make bath time fun. This is a part of the day that you and your baby can really enjoy. Once the job of being washed is out the way, serious play time can begin, even when your baby is very small. Always keep little floating ducks or balls in the bathroom that she can push around the bath. When she is so small, you should always hold her very firmly with one hand.
Let her splash you while you pretend to be shocked. Your baby will love the staged expressions on your face as you get wet.
In my excitement to see my children after a day at work, I almost always forgot to ask whether they had been winded after their evening feed. In my enthusiasm for a cuddle it caused many accidents, many of which were totally unexpected.
One Friday evening I came home after a day at work and picked up our daughter. As usual, I didn’t ask my wife any questions, put her on my shoulder, where she promptly vomited all down the back of my jacket. It was Friday, so I was pretty relaxed and just changed it. My wife and I were going to neighbours for drinks, the babysitter had arrived and with a new jacket on, off we went.
After 45 minutes of hugs and hellos we were chatting to a group of friends when suddenly one said, “Mark, what the heck’s that on your trousers?” You guessed it, my little princess had puked right down my trouser legs too and I hadn’t noticed. At that moment everyone worked out what the unusual smell had been (I think the parents of babies become immune to the scent of milky vomit) and a bit of ribbing and exaggerated gagging ensued for the rest of the evening.
It’s a fact, babies will be sick on you. Of course, this may mean you have to take your stuff to the dry cleaners, but who cares. Your child didn’t do it on purpose, even if she is smiling at you and has that unspoken look on her face ‘caught you out there dad didn’t I?’ She certainly didn’t have any ulterior motives for doing it, so don’t blow it out of perspective.
It’s not worth getting upset or annoyed when this happens. It will happen to you many times, but in the end, it is always worthwhile when you see your child’s little smile after she has got rid of the wind in her tummy.
One of the most intimate and moving moments of your life will be the arrival of your baby into this world. The sheer magic and awe at being present at the dawning of this new miracle of human life will stay with you for the rest of your life. It will be the most meaningful and emotionally charged event you have ever experienced and yet it will seem to go by ‘in the blink of an eye’.
Before the birth you may have lots of qualms about seeing blood, or seeing your partner in pain and being there in such a highly charged emotional situation, so you may be hesitant initially. The significance of the occasion once your partner goes into labour will make you forget about all those concerns. The more you realise that this is something so life changing and so profound, the more you will want to be there. It will be even more meaningful for you, as you will have been communicating with your baby and touching him through his mother’s tummy for the last six months.
Therefore, I would strongly recommend that you, as a father to be, do everything to make sure that you are there at the birth of your child and witness his arrival into this world.
Hold him as soon as he is born and you will see and feel immediately the intimate and unique bond between you. When you first look into his eyes as his father and reflect that this little being is part of you, it will start immediately. You will never ever forget that moment. It will remain as vivid in your mind for many years into the future, as the day he was born.
This is an eternal dilemma for you as a Dad with your baby. If you leave him crying, does it mean there is something wrong, or is he just trying to get your attention and testing the boundaries. So how can you settle him down?
It is of course normal that your baby cries when you first put him in his cot at bedtime, but if you spend some time with him before leaving his bedroom, it will always help. You can talk to him and tell him stories that you have made up, but what will work best is to sing him some songs. They can be lullabies or nursery rhymes and from you, not always his mother.
You may think that you can’t sing to save your life and that his mum sings much better than you, but don’t be put off. Your baby will love to hear Daddy’s voice before he goes to sleep. He will listen to and appreciate your dulcet tones as if you are the greatest Diva that ever lived. Your voice really is ‘music to his little ears’ and he will never be bored of hearing your voice.
You will be amazed just how quickly you recall the lyrics of the songs that you sang when you were a little boy. The more you sing the more you recall the words and the better you will become. In fact you will find it very soothing for you as well. You will find that this is very high quality time that you are spending with your baby at the end of the day and it will relax you both.
In fact, it is the start of a vital, intense and incredibly rewarding relationship, that you as a Father will have with your child, that will last for the rest of your life.
It may not seem like it at first, but getting ‘Happy with the Nappy’ is a key moment of high quality time with your baby. This can be really difficult to imagine, particularly at the beginning, as you change that first one while holding back the instinct to vomit. But don’t worry, you will get to experience some very intimate, funny and of course, messy times together with your baby.
At the time they may seem distressing for you, but not your baby, but they’ll also be times you will recount and laugh about for the next twenty years. Not to mention the potential of embarrassing your teenager in front of people, even if you don’t do it deliberately. They may not all be ‘rosy’ moments and absolutely nothing can prepare you for that first really smelly one, but treasure them nevertheless.
In fact, you’ll wonder how something so small and cute can produce something so toxic and revolting. When this happens, you may be tempted to let your partner take care of the nappy changes, but resist this. As she probably does most of the input, you should do your share of the output!
Of course beware of changing your child’s nappy just before you are going out. There is nothing more frustrating than having to change your suit and shirt as they have just been soaked by a jet of warm yellow liquid. Then to see the look of contentment on your child’s face, together with that little smile. It puts it all into perspective and you can’t stay annoyed for very long. In fact it then becomes one of those special moments to treasure.
So get involved with this important part of your baby and ‘Get Happy with the Nappy’.
One of the most moving, emotional and significant moments of you and your partner’s lives, is the birth of your child. Nothing can prepare you as a Dad, for the arrival of this new being into the world. It is so emotionally charged, that there is a real risk that reason goes out of the window.
This is where your role as a father can be vital. Although you are not actually giving birth, your role is absolutely key to it all going well. Your partner will be in extreme pain, as well as not thinking very straight while your child is being born, so it is imperative that you try to remain calm.
She will say and do things, some of which may shock you and that you have never seen before, but don’t worry, you have the key tool, to help you both manage during this very highly charged event. Of course the midwife is very important, and will guide you both, but don’t forget the Birth Plan you and your partner decided on. Remember this was formulated in the cold light of day. This should be be your guide book, unless there is a medical emergency, in which case, of course, you must follow the doctor’s advice.
When you were planning for this moment, you and your partner will have decided what pain relief she would use, and so it is very important that you stick to this, despite anything she says during the actual childbirth. She will thank you afterwards, even if in the moment she is screaming at you. At times you will be tempted to throw your carefully thought out plan out the window, because your partner will be so uncomfortable.
When you decided it together, you reassured your partner that you were in this together, and now is when you can prove this to her. She will really appreciate this when you and your new born baby get back home.
The bonding process with your child begins before he is born, it shouldn’t wait till he actually arrives in this world. Despite your partner experiencing your child developing and growing inside her, you can also lead a full part during these months before the birth.
As soon as you can start to see ‘the bump’ getting bigger, you can start interacting with your baby. He will be able to hear your voice, and feel you touching him through the walls of your partner’s tummy, for a few months before he is born. Your partner will also love you doing this, as at times she may feel she is doing it all alone. Even if this is not the case.
When your partner is lying down on the sofa, or the bed, take the opportunity while she is relaxed, to stroke your baby, and talk to him. You can put your ear next to him, and listen to any gurgles in your partner’s tummy. They may not actually be your baby, but it will feel good for your partner anyway. You can gently prod him and feel him move, and feel certain parts of his body. You can even guess with your partner what part of his body you are touching.
It will be a very satisfying and intimate time together for the two of you which you will both enjoy. You will also be starting to get used to the idea that there will be three of you shortly, not just the two of you. So take the opportunity to be involved right from the very start, you will be amazed.
Having a baby is not just a case of reproducing you and your partner in mini form. It is a chance to share in every aspect of bringing a new being into the world and playing an integral part in its development. It is also about having fun. This is one of the most important aspects of having a child and just because he is a baby, it doesn’t mean the fun can’t start right from birth.
Even such mundane tasks as changing a nappy can be a fun time together for you and your baby, even though your initial instincts might be one of horror. And it can be a real challenge to change a smelly nappy, and still enjoy doing it!
But once you have got over the initial repulsion, and you become immune to it, after a while you can make the whole experience fun for you both. Once the dirty nappy is off, and before you put a new one on, you can blow bubbles on your baby’s tummy, or tickle his feet. He will love this, and his little smile to you as you do it will be absolutely priceless.
It will be the same at bath time. Once the mundane task of washing him is done, although he may love this too, let him splash you, and watch your facial expressions as you pretend to be shocked and horrified. He will love it….
Very often a baby will take a few months to get into a routine and sleep the whole way through the night, and you will have to manage until he does. But there is a way that you and your partner can get a good nights sleep, albeit only six hours in one go. Share the load.
If at all possible, split the night into two parts, so both of you get a full five and a half hours uninterrupted sleep. The first shift is 9.00 pm to 2.30 am, and the second is from 2.30 am to 8.00 am. Whichever one of you is better at early mornings should do the second shift, and the other the first shift. It is not an exact science, but it really can give you some well earned rest. If neither one of you is particularly good early or late, then you will have to toss a coin!
This may only be needed for a few weeks, but could be for several months. Normally when he starts solid food this will become less of a problem. However, this saved our sanity when we had our first child, as he didn’t sleep through the night until he was 18 months old, waking 3 or 4 times every night.
If you plan it well and are disciplined with the time slots, it is possible to manage such short nights, so don’t worry….
Very often there are times when your baby just won’t settle. It could be that he is slightly under the weather, or has trapped wind, or is simply having a grouchy day. But you still need to be doing things around your home, and can’t afford to just to stop everything.
There is a way to continue getting things done and at the same time, calm your baby down. I discovered this purely by accident after a few months, and wished I had known about it earlier. Your baby will feel soothed if he is near you, and can feel your warmth and smell, and feels some gentle motion? How can you do this, you might ask, and still be getting things done?
Lie your baby along your forearm, it doesn’t matter which one. If you are right handed, he is better on your left one. His head should be towards your elbow, while he is lying face down along your forearm. You should then hold onto his upper leg quite firmly, but not too hard. Safe enough for him not to have any risk of you letting him go.
You are then ready to start doing things which need to be done. Your baby will be happy, as he is moving with you, feeling you, and can see what is going on. You will be happy, as you will be less stressed, and feel able to be getting on with things that need to be done.
Hopefully this will help you. Let me know if you try it.