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.
When you put your Toddler to bed at night, do you always make sure he is in complete darkness and everyone in the house is quiet? If this is what you do, have you asked yourself why do you do it? It is a complete myth that a young child needs total silence in order to go to sleep. If he is tired, he will sleep and if he is not, he won’t. It really is as simple as that.
Additionally, how many times have you seen a young child fast asleep in his parents arms in bright sunshine and outdoors? Many times I’m sure.
So when you put your child to bed, you don’t need to close the door. In fact, if you do that from an early age, you may even start creating a fear of the dark for later years. With his door open, if he does wake up in the night, he can hear the rest of the family and any general household background noise and this will be reassuring for him. If you can leave a small night light in his room, or maybe the bathroom light on, it will be even better.
This may even help him in later life and encourage him, when he is a teenager, to leave his bedroom door open and not close himself away for hours on end. If doors have always been open since he was a baby, it will not be so natural for him to always keep it shut. This way, he may become less insular and distanced from the rest of the family during this challenging period of his life.
Something as simple as an open door at bedtime when your child is a Toddler, can really help promote good habits when he is older and these good habits die very hard in later years.
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 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.