Welcome to the club! Now that you’re an official, bona-fide dad, it’s clear there are going to be more than a few changes in your life, on top of the fact that there’s now a tiny, helpless human living with you.
Whether you’re the kind of guy that always has things under control or you’re freaking out because you don’t what to do next, here’s a list of 10 things new dads need to know that will help them thrive in new role as proud papa.
1. You Are Going To Get Peed and Puked On – Might as well get this one out of the way first. It’s going to be happen, so take it in stride. There are obvious times, like when you’re changing diapers, to have your guard up, but it will also happen when you least expect it. But you’ll still want to try and prevent as much collateral damage as possible, so master the art of carrying a burp cloth or small towel. And keep your mouth closed if you’re lifting baby up above your head.
2. Daddy Time is Prime Time – According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, there are a number of studies that suggest that fathers who are involved, nurturing and playful with infants have children with higher IQs and better cognitive capacities. So grab your kid and have some tummy time! Establish your own rituals and routines, whether it’s bouncing on a ball, gentle walks around the back yard or singing special songs.
3. Trust Your Gut – You can read all the books and google things all you want, but at the end of the day, learn to trust your instincts and be your baby’s best advocate. If you think your baby needs to see a doctor, go see a doctor. If you think it’s just gas, lift up their legs and help them toot.
4. Taboo Topics Are No Longer Taboo – Did you see how I just casually mentioned how you could help the baby toot? You’ll soon be talking to friends, strangers, and pretty much anyone who will listen about pee, poop, breasts, burping and other bodily functions that you may not have even known existed. Now that you’re a new dad, these topics are not only socially acceptable, but can actually prove to be some of the most interesting as you exchange ideas and experiences with others. You’ll be surprised what the mailman knows about these things.
5. Your Wife is Crazy – No seriously, although that isn’t the exact scientific term. There is a surge and depletion of various hormones going on in her body as she adjusts from having a baby inside her and the traumatic effects of the delivery, causing her to be somewhat, um, imbalanced. Remember PMS from the days before she was pregnant? My wife describes the post-pregnancy roller coaster as PMS on steroids. So remember that when she yells at you for putting the forks back in the drawer the wrong way. This also neatly leads to the very important next point…
6. Never Call Your Wife Crazy – Look, we just established that there’s some funky body chemistry going on, and we could probably even get her to acknowledge all these things are happening. But calling your wife “crazy” is right there on the list with “cow-like” and “cat lady” on the list of names that women don’t want to be called. You’ve made it as far as having a baby with her, so you probably have this one mastered, but it bears remembering because a lot of stuff can said in your tired new-parent stupor.
7. Baby Poop Is Not a Big Deal – Yeah, we were surprised about this, too. It actually feels nice to help your little one get nice and clean since they can’t do it themselves. Of course, that first one they do when you bring them home from the hospital is a doozy, but after that newborn baby poop actually doesn’t really smell too much, especially if they’re breastfeeding. It’s when they start eating solids that you need to clear the room.
8. You Will Do Anything To Make Your Baby Smile Or Laugh – I don’t care if you’re the most uptight, responsible and straight-laced new dad on the planet, if you discover that doing a chicken dance or wearing underwear on your head will get a rise out of your baby, you’ll be happily and eagerly doing it over and over.
9. Your Body Is Going To Change – Just as mom’s body has undergone some changes, yours is going to as well. No matter how hard you try, your exercise and healthy eating regimen is bound to take a hit, so do whatever you can to try and maintain your fitness routine, but understand that you can no longer have marathon gym sessions anymore now that you have a family at home.
10. It’s No Longer All About You – This is probably pretty obvious, but it’s striking just how quickly your wife, parents, neighbors and everyone want to focus on the baby and how your wife is doing. And rightly so. But the most suprising thing about this part is that it won’t bother you in the least. It will be your pleasure to put baby and mom’s needs before you, and that’s what being an awesome new dad is all about.
Got any other tips for new dads? We’d love to hear them. And we saved our best one for its own blog post, so check back soon for our top new dad tip of all-time.