Web daddytypes.com

January 17, 2007

Q: One Good Piece Of Advice Of Pre-Dadhood Advice?

About six weeks before the kid was born, I was checking out a flock of strollers parked in the gym lobby, when the owners, a group of Tribeca moms, showed up. After figuring out I wasn't trying to steal their rigs, we got into the "oh, when are you expecting?" conversation. When I told them, one woman said, without a second's hesitation, and with an intensity that sticks with me to this day,

Go out every night!

It's advice I pass along, partly as a joke, but also because it's not exactly the kind of thing you'll read in a What To Expect book. And because it turned out to be damn good advice.

So. What one piece of advice did you get before the kid was born that strikes you as valuable, unique, or surprisingly important?

What piece of advice do you wish you'd heard but didn't?

What signs should should be plastered on the scaffolds and telephone poles of Park Slope for dads-to-be to see?

I don't know yet if this is a full-fledged contest, but maybe a poll.

posted January 17, 2007 1:02 AM | add to del.icio.us | digg this


I have to add to your "Go out every night" comment: I was just talking to friends with a two month old, and actually told them the same thing. If they have the energy, they have a kid that will sleep though an entire dinner. Magic.

Ok, so our premature twins were in the NICU for 4 and 5 weeks, and the best thing that happened to us was that the girls came home on a schedule. We had a 4 hour feeding/napping schedule. that continued for the next 9 months or so, and it really saved our asses. Especially with twins, being on a schedule and sticking to it gives you the parent a welcome (though not abundant) amount of downtime.

As far as advice that we got from before they were born? man, that was 21 months ago - you expect me to remember that far back? Maybe someone else's comments will jog my memory...

posted by: geoff at January 17, 2007 9:28 AM

I don't know if it is the One Piece of Advice To Rule Them All, but I always tell expectant dads that they need to get a DVR. Once you have kids, you need to be able to watch TV on your own terms, not on the networks'.

Plus, you can record stuff to watch at 3am, so you don't have to try to decide which middle of the night crap to watch.

Or, if this is going to become a contest, then my entry is, "read DaddyTypes" (and buy a DaddyTypes t-shirt)

[stop calling, we have a winner! smart aleck. -ed.]

posted by: Kaz at January 17, 2007 9:40 AM

A variation on "go out every night"--go out to eat at your favorite nice restaurants as much as possible. Because you ain't gonna be there again very soon. (Or if you do try to go, you're gonna get branded as the couple that brings their kids to the nice restaurant and get banned anyway.) Heh.

And sleep. Sleep as much as you can/want. Cuz you're not going to sleep through the night again. Ever.

And read dadblogs! :)

posted by: Jason/disl at January 17, 2007 9:49 AM

During the labor, you'll receive lots of attention from nurses, though your doctor may only be there intermittently to confirm your status. After the birth, it may feel like the nurses have abandoned you, and it's partially true because the major medical emergency has been resolved. You'll get anxious cooped up in your hospital room and want to get home. Once home, you'll miss the attention from the nurses (if you've been at a good hospital) and wish you hadn't left so soon. Once home, you're on your own.

posted by: AJ at January 17, 2007 9:54 AM

The best advice we received was when our baby was about 3 months old. We were taking him for a walk when we encountered other parents pushing their 5 month old around. Somehow the topic of sleep came up and we mentioned that he was still sleeping in his basinette next to our bed. We were waking up constantly to soothe him. She recommended, "Just put him in his own room."

That night after he fell asleep we put him in his own room, closed the door, turned on the monitor and waited. Nothing, no screams of terror no feeling of abandonment just sweet sleep punctuated by soft mutterings or the occassional cry. He has slept there ever since.

Summary: Get that baby out of your room ASAP!

posted by: ben at January 17, 2007 10:36 AM

Going out, check--specifically to movies and nice restaurants. DVR, check--I'd also suggest Netflix so you can see some movies.

To all of that I would add this--accept all the help that's offered, and ask for more help than you think you might need. When someone offers to look after your baby for an hour so you can nap--say yes. When someone offers to pick up some things at the store/some dinner/anything at all--say yes. And before you start to feel desperate, start asking for help--call your parents, your parents-in-law, grandparents, friends with kids, strangers in the supermarket who have kids, and doctors too, I suppose . . . and keep asking, because you don't know who's going to have that one piece of information that you need. So make sure you listen carefully, because when you need that one piece, you'll really need it.

posted by: Papa Bradstein at January 17, 2007 10:40 AM

Definitely the going out to movies. It seems like we were still able to do restaurants when the kid was teeny tiny and portable, luckily she wasn't a screamer. Hang out with your single and childless friends as much as possible, also, because even if you swear up and down that you will keep up with them, once the baby arrives they tend to disappear. Either because they now find you hideously boring or , umm, because they really don't leave the house until about the time you go to bed.

One daddy-centric thing to remember: watching your own kid is not "babysitting" so if you act like you're doing your baby mama a favor, she will resent you. Don't expect pats on the back for changing diapers, waking in the night, etc. I am sure most of you DT daddies know this already, though...

posted by: naomi at January 17, 2007 10:52 AM

I posted at my blog, but I'll repost here: I don’t recall any, sorry Greg. I should have asked for some advice, of course, because little prepares you to be a SAHD in a world of SAHMs.

posted by: KC at January 17, 2007 11:12 AM

After telling people that we're having twins, everyone looks happy then quickly saddens saying, "Oh, you'll never get any sleep."

I know. Please stop telling me.

posted by: How About Two? at January 17, 2007 11:35 AM

"You are probably freaking out at your impending parenthood, and worrying that you won't know what to do with a baby. Remember, though, that you are a primate--in fact, you're a mammal. When there is an infant in your arms, you will instinctively know what to do. You are programmed that way. Just let your brain-stem take over. It's going to be fine."

posted by: Douglas at January 17, 2007 11:41 AM

Spend extra time with your dog (or cat)! The morning walks and special trips to the dog park are the first thing to go when baby comes. Sorry, Fido.

posted by: Karen at January 17, 2007 12:41 PM

stay in the hospital as long as your insurance will cover it(don't make the mistake i did and go home a day early after your c-section b/c you recover quickly). send the baby to the nursery. even though they'll bring the baby in to nurse during the night and that'll wake you up, you'll get more sleep in the hospital than you will for many months to come (especially if your baby is early). it's tempting to go home, but don't do it (unless the hospital is really crappy).

posted by: rc at January 17, 2007 12:45 PM

I've had one and I'm about to have another. Wait, my cell phone's ringing, did her water break? I'll second a bunch of this stuff, but the best advice I got was straight from Greg - buy a bugaboo!

The second best piece of advice I got was a once a week rule. Both Mama and Dada get one time a week to just get away. Not to run errands. Not to do some work. But, just to do whatever. We try to get an hour in there. Not much, but worth it.

Oh, and remember to not let the kid(s) become the main thing in the relationship. That's the one I get from older friends all the time - particularly divorced, older friends.

posted by: Frampton at January 17, 2007 1:16 PM

Make plans with your place of employment to take off as much parental leave as possible. Your partner will appreciate your help immensely since no matter what kind of birth (vaginal or c-section) her body may be exhausted for weeks. And you will bond with your partner as if you completed a tour of duty. Like a combat veteran, some of your memories of that time may be difficult (sleepless days *and* nights, anxiety over "doing the right thing," diaper blow-outs in bed), but the overall impact of the bonding with your partner is awesome and will make it much easier to bear the responsibilities and enjoy the pleasures of parenting for the next 18+ years. I'm an academic so I was lucky to have our daughter's birth coincide with my annual summer sabbatical, but if you can swing it financially, take as much time off as possible.

posted by: GFR at January 17, 2007 1:24 PM

The DVR thing -- Amen! Going out? Double amen, and I'd add take a trip at 7 months -- we took three weeks in Spain and the only romance in our life for several months post-baby was remembering things from Spain...
Most importantly however: Have a C-Section plan. Something like 20% of babies end up coming out c-section, when we took the six week hospital baby class (which I would never do again for love or money) they never mentioned any C-section scenarios, but we were like: Hey, with ten couples in this class, odds are that two of us are going to C-section... We planned that my husband would go with the baby, try to warm him on his chest, be with him for his bath, etc. etc., and while it kind of freaked out the nurses (they usually just leave the dads with the moms) we were super happy with the decision. My husband even video recorded it, albeit on the fairly crappy video recorder in his still digital camera, and while I wasn't able to watch it at first (stench of failure with the C-Section and all) now seeing it gives us all great joy. My doctor herself said that when she had a C-Section she wanted her husband to be there with her, and not go with the baby, because she was so afraid, so it's obviously a very personal decision, but in any event I think it's a good idea to discuss ahead of time so you're not like a deer in headlights if it all goes down.

posted by: Dara at January 17, 2007 1:28 PM

Get all your home improvement projects, major cleaning, remodeling, landscaping done BEFORE the kids come. There'll be little enough time to just clean the kitchen once baby makes three.

posted by: bob at January 17, 2007 1:43 PM

My best advice is: Think hard about any advice you are given, and perfect the art of smiling sweetly and saying "oh, i'll have to keep that in mind".

Because 90% of the advice i was given just did not fit into my lifestyle.

posted by: Throkky at January 17, 2007 1:58 PM

People will tell you, "your life is going to change"...and they don't mean for the better.My advice is to not take advice from these people. No crap, of course your life changes when you have a kid. If it doesn't change, you're doing it wrong. Here's some more advice: Having a kid is awesome!

posted by: Bill at January 17, 2007 2:18 PM

yes! be prepared for the possibility of a c-section! it was very weird after 2 hours of pushing in the dim-lights of a family delivery room to be rushed into the glaring lights of the e.r. with people sticking things in you and on you and shoving clipboards in your face. i actually told everyone to slow down and back off and give me some room to breathe. in the rush, i misheard that the spinal would leave me numb and paralyzed for 14 hours! that led to a bit of a freak out session for me. turns out it was only about an hour. ;o) as physically exhausting as the whole experience was, it was equally emotionally draining not having any clue what to expect with a c-section. good luck!

posted by: lum mum at January 17, 2007 2:22 PM

Never try to reason with anyone who poops in their pants.

Though it is only so useful... see

posted by: Papa Urchin at January 17, 2007 3:01 PM

I gotta agree with the "trust your instincts" thing. We actually DID get this advice pre-baby, and it is true. It may not seem like it just before the very first time you "trust your instincts" but it will almost always work out.

I have one more to add - pediatricians have heard it all. Do not feel too embarrassed or silly to ask them any question at all. Better to have your instincts confirmed, and feel comfortable with what you are doing than to do something really wrong...

posted by: Kaz at January 17, 2007 3:07 PM

Most valuable advice was to watch that video about swaddling and shushing and stuff ("Happiest Baby..."). I can't quite figure out how they stretched a 20-minute video to 336 pages for the book though. I mean, it's pretty straightforward.

The most annoying, pointless advice (and the most common) was "Store up your sleep now!" That's just negative and unhelpful. Sure, every new parent gets woken up a lot at night, but what good does it do to spread the fear and freak out the parents to be? Other than elicit sympathy. Poor you! You resent your kid, big deal. Give him up for adoption if you're so miserable. (Apologies if this comes across too harshly -- I've got a 6-wk-old, and I'm severely under rested, ha ha.)

Like Bill above, I hated hearing all of that backhanded advice that suggested that my life as I knew was soon to be over.

posted by: Jake at January 17, 2007 3:46 PM

It's a phase. Yes, you're likely to get a DUI on sleep deprivation alone by week 6. But it's over so quickly. Kids grow, they change.

If you happen to read a book that harangues you to "start out as you mean to go on" and then feel guilty because you co-slept at first because that's what worked at the time even though now you wish you weren't co-sleeping -- stop (feeling guilty, that is). Because that same damn book says that you can adjust sleep patterns in three days. So, when that co-sleeping thing (or whatever) stops working for you, just change it. You don't have to do it in three days if you don't want to, because, you know, it's not a race. Baby steps are often possible, and, however you get there, you will be able to get where you want to be. And when you look back, you will realize that it was the blink of an eye. Maybe it sucked while it was happening, but it's over. So, so, so, so fast.

posted by: Anne at January 17, 2007 4:21 PM

- Sleep dep is a method of tourture. (Ask the V.P.) Just when you are about to crack and go Kramer, stop, re-load with air, and let it go. Remind yourself how lucky you are to be where you are, and get over it.

- Your reflexes will be shot for months, so slow down when you drive...then, keep driving that way. Pull over if you need to use your cell.

- Get all your favorite take-out places on the speed dials of all your phones.

- Get your life insurance up to date.

- Clean up your house and yard like there is no tomorrow two weeks before the baby is due (get help if you have to). You won't see the back yard for six months.

- Parenting (most) magazines are designed to foster guilt and get you to buy stuff. Don't. There is some good advice in there, it's just tough to find and temper with your own reality.

- As was noted above, let people do things for you.

- Get a bugaboo with a parasol & foot muff. MacClaren Truimph when you get sick of hauling the Bugaboo around. So they cost as much as a new 42" plasma, so what? You don't have to push the the kid in the TV, or pack and re-pack it. Plus, the TV won't take care of you when you are old. The Bugaboo probably also has a better re-sale value than your TV. (Hey Greg, did you read about the Bugaboo people bidding up used Bugs on eBay to keep the prices on the used market inflated?)

- Don't skimp on car seats. Use the money you saved by not buying all those plastic toys at Baby's r Us(tupperware gets the job done too).

- Get the grandparents to start a 529 with the money they would normally use to buy those same, plastic, talking toys.

- DVR. It's all "info crap" after 1:00 am. Plus, you can rip through hour long shows in 40 minutes, and that's an extra 20 minutes to sleep.

- Bumbo.

- Go with the baby after a C-Section. It's possibly the best hour you will ever spend with your child while wearing scrubs.

- Take the baby for a walk, and bring back flowers for Mom.

- The kid was born smarter than you will ever be. But, "sage" and "smart" are not the same thing.

- Read the newspaper to your kid at breakfast. They need to know what's going on in the outside world too.

- Enjoy.

posted by: David at January 17, 2007 5:32 PM

Eat. My wife begged, OK ordered, me to grab a good dinner with my brother-in-law, even though I could tell she was entering the early stages of labor. Once again she was right, one of us needed to be nourished because neither of us would eat a decent meal for a long time.

It may not work for everyone, but I took the bulk of my paternity leave right after my wife went back to work. She liked it, and I felt more useful. (I also took the two weeks after my babies were born. I have an understanding boss.)

I'll repeat the movie advice, see as many as you can. I miss going out to good and bad movies.

posted by: Working Dad at January 17, 2007 7:35 PM

Get a Chariot Carrier stroller CX1 - (yes I know that I am in a pro-Bugaboo crowd) this unit converts from jogger to 2 wheel stroller to a bike trailer to a ski polk etc. You will ski again and you will go on adventures soon - even sooner if you have the gear. This is the one item that made adjusting to life with a baby seamless. The safety harness system is the most comfortable that I have seen. Our daughter loves it and still sleeps in it at 2 years. The Chariot also packs a load of groceries with no strain! www.chariotcarriers.com/html_english/cx1.htm We took it to NYC on vacation and could have sold it several times over - we also took it to the westcoast of Canada and hiked steep trails/did a bike tour. It is by far the most versatile item I have found for family life. Great/useful accessories (coffee holder!) and well made. Only downfall is that it does not pack small -it is much lighter than it looks.

Give the Grandparents firm direction (education fund and expensive stoller purchases) and avoid the clutter of crazy gifts.

Stash a library of take-out menus so that you can order in a lot. Appreciated by a mom who had a c-section and a dad who was up a lot at night. Someone gave us gift certificates for a pizza place - we used them up quickly.

Keep your stocking to a minimum - you really do not need to be super prepared with nursery stuff. Most of it will arrive in the mail over the next few weeks and you will be shocked at how much and from how far.

If you want gender neutral gifts, do not reveal the gender until the birth announcement. Why let anyone stock up for a pink onslaught before it is necessary.

Register with at least one service that delivers groceries. You just need to be prepared.

Get wireless internet at home - my daughter did all her night time feedings by the light of the laptop. I stayed "connected" to the outside world.

Line up a dog walker. It is never fun to have an under-exercised dog at home esp when you have an extended hospital stay or unexpected complications.

[Hey we love the Chariot around here, too. Only we don't live in Vancouver. -ed]

posted by: Sarah at January 17, 2007 7:48 PM

My 2-cents: sleep when the baby sleeps.... housework be damned. My husband's 2-cents: be patient, the hormones do adjust.

posted by: Annette at January 18, 2007 12:00 AM

My advice would be to keep a journal or blog of your experiences of your new family. You'll have too many experience (good, bad and crazy) to juggle in your mind and you'll be thankful you jotted them down as they came. During the tough and frustrating times I like to go back and remember that this too will pass and I smile.

posted by: Brett Nordquist at January 18, 2007 2:37 AM

The best piece of advice I read was this: Remember, everything is only a phase. Think about it - that means the good stuff as well. But it helps you get through the sleepless nights that seem like they'll last forever.

And if your partner is breastfeeding, get her to express some milk so you can feed the little one once a day. It makes you feel involved with that side of things and takes some of the strain off her. It's brilliant!

posted by: Ben Shepherd at January 18, 2007 5:56 AM

The single biggest piece of advice I would give dad's to be is actually two things..

1: let the baby dictate when it's time to do things.. within some reasonable limits.. if they don't wake up for their 4 hrly feeds, so what??? ours slept for 9 hrs on the second day home and we almost lost it, but she woke up hungry, fed for about an hour straight and then played hard until she crashed for a normal 3 hr nap.. their body knows that it needs, don't get hung up on routines..

2: sleep deprivation is a myth. ok, so I am likely to get shot down for this one, but the human body is capable of some amazing feats, and, just like your newborn.. your body knows exactly what it needs.. research ultradian & circadian rythyms and apply them to yourslef AND YOUR BABY!!! i didn't learn this stuff until my second was born and went through some VERY VERY unhappy stages with the first.. (i even videotaped a tantrum one night to prove to myself later that i wasn't imagining it.. i later wiped the tape because it brought me to tears every time i watched my reaction to my own daughter!!)

for those who don't want to research for themselves.. essentially you sleep in (approx) 90min cycles. learn to take notice of when your baby is naturally sleepy and build your routine around that time.. (it's usually between 8 and 9pm) we realised that our second was regularly falling asleep during our last minute 8pm dinners so made an effort to feed him earlier and have him relaxed with a bottle/feed BEFORE 8pm.. almost without fail he was asleep every night on the dot and we could then get whatever housework was required done before he woke up for the next feed.. if your lucky, your cycles will match your baby.. if your not, try to adjust, AND DON'T FIGHT IT!!

and the only other piece of advice i would give is to enjoy.. you will never know anything more frustrating and powerful at the same time..

Life is not a rehearsal

posted by: Daniel at January 18, 2007 6:18 AM

Sorry to post again, but I need to add one more thing.. the sleep cycle thing applies to the middle of the night sessions as well..

If you find yourself walking the house with them for what seems like an eternity, try and take notice of when they ACTUALLY fall asleep and see if it fits with the 90min rule.. if it does, next time.. resign yourself to a 90min walk and don't fight them.. they will fall asleep much more calmly, and you won't get stressed yourself!

regards (again)

posted by: Daniel at January 18, 2007 6:23 AM

If you're a working parent, be prepared to lower your standards at work. I've spoken to countless parents who are amazed at how much more efficient they have become in their work lives in order to be with their kids as much as possible.

In my case, much of this newly discovered efficiency has come from eliminating things I once thought were important to my clients/colleagues/bosses. The thing is, when I wasn't able to do them any more, no one noticed. (I try not to dwell on the massive amounts of time I wasted pre-parenthood.)

posted by: Lew at January 18, 2007 7:09 AM

"Parenting (most) magazines are designed to foster guilt and get you to buy stuff. Don't. There is some good advice in there, it's just tough to find and temper with your own reality."

You have no inkling of the sheer volume of crap you will accrue when you have a child. And I know, a lot of you're thinking, "yeah, we'll have to get a lot of crap". Take your mental estimate, multiply that by ten and you'll be closer to the mark.

To make matters worse, baby stores prey on ignorant first-time parents. They will ask if you have a certain piece of required baby equipment, get a negative response and then look at you like you are the stupidest person that ever walked the planet and that you are going to murder your newborn child while it sleeps. Which brings me to point number two...

Baby stores will guilt you into buying shit you don't need. It doesn't even take a lot of skill either. They'll brazenly push the most expensive shit they own in front of you and dare you to suggest that you can either, do without the item or, find a similar item for cheaper elsewhere.

"Don't you want the best for your child?".

Honestly, who doesn't? I mean, nobody says, "I want the shittiest thing you've got for my baby" or "do you have a sleeper that's embedded with broken glass".

Save your money for wipes and diapers. Which brings me to my next point...

It's okay to ask for diapers. In the first few days after you bring the baby home, your wife won't want to go anywhere and you'll be so tired from making Baskin Robbins runs the last thing you'll want to do is get up at two in the morning and slog through Wal-Mart like a zombie looking for diapers and trying to decipher the diaper code.

The weight amounts on the diaper are for how much your child weighs, not how much poop can go into one diaper, by the way.

I, fortunately enough, had been warned about the diaper thing early on and whenever anyone asked if I needed anything I said, "you don't have to get us anything, but if you insist, we can always use diapers". Most people feel guilty about just buyin diapers, I don't know why, but reassure them that it's okay, you will be using them.

Everyone, without exception, always bought us a little something extra besides diapers, but your milage may vary.

posted by: Phil McClure at January 18, 2007 7:25 AM

Regarding the number of kids to have..."If you have two, you can play man-to-man. Once you have three, you have to start playing a Zone."

Don't know if it's true. Stopped at man-to-man.

posted by: Bill at January 18, 2007 8:45 AM

I echo a lot of what's been said here! You know, I always tell my new-dad buddies the same thing and I will share it here. Thanks for giving me the opportunity. But I always tell them: get a stack of clean white t-shirts, a lot of food that you can eat with one hand, preferably food that doesn't have to be heated or requires minimal cooking (banana bread, trail mix, hot pockets), and a stack of DVDs and books. Because, you will go days sometimes without bathing and need a series of clean, comfortable shirts, you will eat at odd hours and won't really be able to cook or sit down to eat it, and you will be up at odd hours for long stretches with nothing to do except watch TV or read. And you will NOT put that baby down for months. Sounds bizarre, but it really is a wonderful time.

posted by: Charlie at January 18, 2007 9:19 AM

Some quick things:

1) Kiss your wife first when you come home from work. Sounds simple, but as they get older it's important to show her your relationship is first. If your three-year-old dives on you, go ahead and kiss her -- but get to mom quickly ;)

2) De-clutter. If you don't use it, get it out of the way.

3) If your wife stays at home, take your commute time on the way home to de-stress. Don't add to her day or make her feel nothing is normal by venting.

posted by: Jason at January 18, 2007 9:44 AM

Best advice I got: Babies cry. It doesn't mean you are doing anything wrong or that the baby is suffering. Sometimes, they just cry because they are babies.

posted by: Marc at January 18, 2007 9:52 AM

The best advice I can give a soon-to-be-Daddy is two-part about emotions. I'll post the happier one in another comment.

First is about post-partum depression for the mother. You have to watch for it, look for it, see shadows of it, look for it under the couch cushions. Because your wife (I know not all of us are married, but it's easier to say wife) will not want you to know she is feeling negatively about the baby.

You may miss it unless you look, because you are going to be overwhelmed as well. You will be lacking sleep, on a new schedule, and probably feeling sorry for yourself. So when you see your wife exhibiting small emotional problems it won't seem out of the ordinary to you. And it may not be.

But it may be. Many women have post-partum depression and it is devastating even at the lowest levels. Imagine your whole life you are told you will instantly love your baby and when you see her you feel nothing. Just another baby. Then the kid won't nurse, you get angry at the baby in frustration because you are exhausted. How could you be angry at your own baby? You're supposed to have unconditional love!

It snowballs, and snowballs. The thoughts get worse and more violent even as the mother does everything right in the real world. But in her head she is the worst mother on the planet, a terrible, hateful person.

For many women untreated post-partum depression just leads to stress and anxiety, but for some extreme cases it can lead to self-mutilation or harming the baby.

She won't tell you, either, because she is ashamed. It is your job to figure it out. Approach it gently, ask if she is having the dark thoughts. Offer to take the child out for a while. Have a friend who has been through it talk with your wife. Look on the web (NJ has a GREAT site called "Speak Up When You Are Down"). Talk to the obstetrician -- you are allowed -- or your own physician to get advice on what to do. But do it.

If you are wrong and it is just the same exhaustion you are feeling there is no harm done. But if you are right it can save a world of hurt for all three of you.

posted by: Nathan at January 18, 2007 9:57 AM

I'm a woman, but I can't believe no one has suggested this yet: enjoy morning sex as often as possible now while you can! You will not get the opportunity again until the kids go to college or something.

posted by: J at January 18, 2007 10:16 AM

Ask lots of questions. While at the hospital, ask the nurses to show you how to swaddle, how to burp (the baby) ask about everything. And ask several times. I had several nurses show me how to swaddle the baby and in the end, I could do it in my sleep (which I did).

While at the hospital, if you have visitors and they have outstayed their welcome, have the nurse ask them to leave. At our hospital, they actually told us they would do it. It is a lot easier for the nurse to tell an over-stayed visitor that mom needs to rest or needs to have some blood taken or something than it is for you to ask someone to leave because you are tired of them, and you will be.

Last, once you get back home, for the first few weeks, visitors can only stay for 30 minutes. They can stay for an hour if they bring a meal, and 2 hours if they help out around the house (wash dishes, fold laundry, that kind of stuff). It was surprising how many people were up for 1 and 2 hour visits.

posted by: Chris at January 18, 2007 10:16 AM

Second piece of looooong advice is more fun, though it starts out stark.

The newborn can't see you very well, and really doesn't care about you except as it relates to her comfort. They want to have clean diapers, full tummies, be burped, sleep, warmth and be close to a beating heart. They are not entertaining at all!

So what do you do to entertain yourself? Some folks above say TiVo, some say wireless Internet, others say take breaks. All good ideas, and all things we did (though DVR came two years in).

But what we did that passed the time and entertained Daddy, Mommy and Newborn was to treat her like a puppet.

Everybody does this a little bit with the hand wave, etc., but we took it farther. We stood her up, had her walk, made her dance (gently), and talked for her. I would hold her up and she would have entire conversations with my wife. We created an entire personality for the kid -- which wound up being close to what she has now at 2.5 years -- and would trade off being speaker and puppeteer.

We worried that it was a bad thing to do, so we asked our pediatrician. She told us that this was great because it moved the newborns body around, got her used to her muscles, helped her find her body parts, and accustomed her to both our voices and to the use of language.

So we got entertainment from the kid before she could do it herself, and the kid got good physical and mental contact to help her grow.

posted by: Nathan at January 18, 2007 10:28 AM

OK, last one. I promise. This one is specifically for the Dads who are football fans.

There are only so many things that your newborn wants: food, cleaning, burping, sleep, comfort, warmth, get noise, relive pain. Other than that there really isn't a lot you are going to do for her.

Quarterbacks are in the same position in each play, and they simply check off the defensive position before the play, and their receivers as the play progresses. That's all you have to do.

Just start at the bottom by checking the diaper and work through the check off list until you find out what calms her down. If nothing calms her down, go through the list again. About 90 percent of the time this will work like a charm and you will find out what is wrong and fix it quickly.

The other 10 percent of the time the newborn is crying because she is a newborn and there's nothing you can do about it. Take a sack, hold on to the ball and line up for the next play.

posted by: Nathan at January 18, 2007 10:33 AM

We got a bunch of baby books, a lot of them had good, practical, prescriptive instructions along the lines of "if X happens do A, B, C and if D doesn't then happen call 911" but in the middle of one was the sentence that stuck with me "Do what feels right". Clearly this can't extend to bad things, but you're going to get told a lot of stuff by a lot of people who should keep their mouths shut (apparently, comforting your crying infant is "spoiling them". I told the nice lady "I'm not buying him BMW, I'm making sure he gets some damn rest").

The DVR idea is a good one. When our son had colic I learned that there is a story arch to WWE wrestling and that I had a favorite robot on Robot Wars (watching that subtitled in French was actually quite fun). I could have been watching something umm.. non-soul destroying.

One of my big ones is get at least a washer. It is mind boggling how much stuff a tiny person can dirty in a 24 hour period. If we hadn't had a washer and dryer I have no idea when my wife and I would have seen each other.

If we have a second my wife and I have decided, barring any emergencies, that I'm going to go home and sleep the first night at home. One of you is going to have to be functional. It probably won't be your wife.

Oh, get the basics before the kid is born, but don't go nuts. Somewhere to change them can be the top of a dresser with one of those pads from IKEA, clearly you need a crib and somewhere to stick dirty diapers. But the rest you don't need. You'll see what you want/need after they are born. Oh, get a changing pad separate from a purpose build diaper bag. Stuff it into one of the 10 bags you already own. Move on.

posted by: Cameron at January 18, 2007 11:10 AM

Yes, go out as much as you can especially movies and restaurants.

But the best advice I can give is this: if you're really going to enjoy being a dad, handle all the new responsibilities, and deal with the good, bad, hard, and ugly, you're going to have to learn to seperate out your other worries, and responsibilities. When you're with your baby or child, you have to leave your job, chores, home improvements and any other nagging issues aside and focus on having fun with him/her. You will probably have to work at this and it isn't easy. But once you achieve this, you'll be ready to really enjoy fatherhood.

posted by: Ike at January 18, 2007 1:03 PM

Here's my advice: Life is going to change, so get your head around it. Having a baby is a one way trip, you don't ever get to go back to not having a baby. You can't change your mind. So do all that "go out every night" stuff and get it out of your system, because if the baby comes home and you're still harboring thoughts about "I want my life to be like it was" while getting up for 3am feedings, you are going to be one unhappy camper.

I am left speechless by the number of parents I meet that tell me things like "Oh, the baby goes into daycare on Thursdays so I can have some time to myself" or "I'm so mad at my mother, she's supposed to take the baby overnight every Tuesday so Mary and I can have date night and she said she's too tired this week." The baby is *your* responsibility. Sure, everyone deserves a break every now and then, a little "me" time, but that is a luxury, not a guarantee. If you don't get it you shouldn't be looking around expectantly like help is coming any minute now. And you sure shouldn't take it out on the baby.

Once a parent, always a parent. So I'll say it again, if you're thinking that the baby will come and as soon as possible you'll go back to life the way it was, then get it out of your system now because you're in for a wakeup call (typically at about 4am).

posted by: Duane at January 18, 2007 1:22 PM

Get an iPod or some other decent MP3 player. If you're like me, subscribe to a bunch of podcasts and get an audiobook subscription, too.

There's a fair bit of rocking-to-sleep in your arms, and the worst thing for that is to be impatient. If you've got the latest Tom Clancy (or whatever) going in your ear, you can carry on forever.

See me, baby and iPod!

posted by: Graham at January 18, 2007 2:01 PM

My advice would be to just relax, you'll be surprised how quickly you will catch on to the whole daddy thing. In the months leading up to our 1st kid I was worried I wouldn't be able to handle being a daddy. Now I look back (my wife too) and laugh at how uptime I (we) were. It will come naturally. Our 3rd (and last) is due in April and I am super excited.

Oh yeah, I agree with the DVR and BlockBuster Online suggestions!

posted by: GooMan at January 18, 2007 2:12 PM

"Take lots of pictures, they grow up so fast".

When I first heard this advice I thought that the person giving it was crazy. At the time it sure didn't feel like the baby was growing up fast. They do, and you don't notice the little changes because you see your child(ren) everyday.

I am grateful that my father was a prolific photographer because I now have literally thousands of photographs of my family on my computer, both when I was a kid and a teenager and of my childeren too.

I use the Windows slide show screen saver that will display my photos, one at a time on the computer monitor when the screen saver kicks in. I will sit for up to an hour at a time watching my life flash before my eyes. It's fun when the family gets together and I constantly notice new photos that I have not noticed before.

posted by: Geoff at January 18, 2007 2:17 PM

Yes, go out as much as you can especially movies and restaurants.

But the best advice I can give is this: if you're really going to enjoy being a dad, handle all the new responsibilities, and deal with the good, bad, hard, and ugly, you're going to have to learn to seperate out your other worries, and responsibilities. When you're with your baby or child, you have to leave your job, chores, home improvements and any other nagging issues aside and focus on having fun with him/her. You will probably have to work at this and it isn't easy. But once you achieve this, you'll be ready to really enjoy fatherhood.

posted by: Ike at January 18, 2007 2:23 PM

I'm a father of two (so far). One of my kids was 2 years old when I met my wife. She's 13 now. My other kid is 2 years old. I love both very much. Since I missed all the early stuff with my daughter, I got to experience it all first hand with my son. My wife was already an old hat with the baby stuff, and she's a mother/baby RN to boot.

One thing I've found is that whether it's friends, family, or foes, you're going to find people that don't agree with what you do, or have a differing opinion on what you should do. YOU are the parents. There is no rulebook for what to do. Your parents will have different opinions because they lived in a different time. You turned out alright, your kids will too.

Kids need very little in the grand scheme of things. They need you to be there for them. To love them. To hold them when they cry or feed them when they are hungry.

Here's what we've found that works:

Cloth diapers. Hands down the best way to diaper your kids. Yeah, you have scrub poop off a cloth diaper. You have to carry around a stinky diaper in a baggie until you get home. It takes a bit more time, and you have to wash them. All that aside, you're helping the environment, not only from landfills, but from toxic chemicals used to make diapers that then go on your child's skin. Cloth diapers allow air into your baby's skin, and we haven't had a diaper rash in I don't know how long. And the best part...they work great as soft rags later (I do a lot of woodworking, so I use lots of rags). There are so many styles and types to choose from, there are even cloth diapers that look and work just like regular diapers. And use can reuse them for years. And it saves money.

BreastFeeding. Most guys don't really mind either way. But think of this, either way, you should feed your baby yourself as much as you can. Bonding is one of the most important aspects of breastfeeding (or bottle feeding). Get your wife to express her milk. Sit there in the middle of the night and just watch the tiny person you helped make. The other benefits of breastfeeding include: less illness, better tolerance (i.e. less spitting up) of liquid nourishment, and if you co-sleep (attachment parenting - see next opinion), you and your wife don't even need to get out of bed to feed the baby.

Attachment Parenting. Most people try to avoid this subject. It has lots of benefits, but most people seem to focus on the lost sleep and decreased intimacy. Let's be honest. How much intimacy do you really think you'll have with a new baby? How much sleep you do think you'll get when you have to get up, go to the room down the hall, and get the baby? Scared you'll hurt the baby? Get a co-sleeping bed with rigid sides. Again, these are just opinions, but if you do a little research, there are some specialists that concur that co-sleeping and attachment parenting allows your children to feel more safe and secure, and later in life are actually more indepedant than those children who are put into separate rooms to sleep. Besides, our daughter, now 13, was out of our bed by 4.

Last opinion. Time away from your kids. You had kids. They depend on you. You are there to take care of them, and be there for them. Everyone needs a break, so take turns with your wife to have a little time. Want to see a movie? Wait until it comes out on DVD. Want a nice dinner? Go someplace you all can go eat. The basic premise (and it may sound harsh) but don't have kids if you don't want to live your life with them and share every moment with them. They didn't ask to be here, and they are the most precious gifts you can get. Treasure that, as it doesn't last long, and you'll regret it later if you squander it.

Some of you may disagree. Some of you may hate the opinions mentioned here. You are free to be your own person, as these are just opinions by me. I am not perfect, nor am I an expert. I just know what works for me. And I hope this helps someone.

posted by: craig at January 18, 2007 2:39 PM

I'd go with read the Sunday newspaper (from cover to cover) as much as possible before the kid arrives. You won't have that much free time on your hands for quite a while.

posted by: Brian (dad to 3) at January 18, 2007 2:42 PM

My advice- don't buy all of the junk "they" say you need, because most of it will be sitting in the garage, unused.

posted by: creativeType dad at January 18, 2007 3:06 PM

If I could give just one piece of advice it would be this....Take It As It Comes..

I have seen way to many folks plan and plot and then grumble that things are not goingto that plan. I have seen items purcahsed never get used and a mad scramble when new vectors cropped up in the young ones temperment. I have seen couples squabble over predetermined marching orders.

Get educated on whats about to happen and then have fun with it. Are you going to make mistakes? Oh hell yea. Are you going to miss out the unexpected joys if you constrict events to fit a preplanned world view? Yup. Will your kid grow up and be their own persons regardless of what you want them to be? So far as I have heard this is almost a sure bet.

So far as I can tell now 7 years into the process of raising kids a good parent is part improv comic part cool profeesor part stern but fair guidence councilor and part cruise director.

Be fluid, be fun, be informative, be a menotr, be a parent that makes more smiles than therapy sessions decades latter.


posted by: tomhiggins at January 18, 2007 3:17 PM

Having read the responses here I will also offer up this bit of observation.

How ever much time you think your kid will take from you, double it...for starters. Having siad that..

There is a very thin line between becoming the helicopter parent your kids will grow up to either hate or become codependent on/with and missing out on all the hard/good times that come with being a parent.

I do belive there needs to be a time set aside for each of the parents to call their own. My wife and I both have nights of the week we call for ourselves. It helps to get out and experience the world without a kid in the mix that will latter help you when they are in the mix. It also lets you go out and release any pent up frustration you might have in a healthy way. Date nights withthe spouse is also a MUST. If you dont have relations around to do the sitting it can get expensive but it is worth it.

I also belive that there are a lot of parents out there that schedule their kids like another item on a busy PDA. If you have kids they are the top priority, bottom line. If you think you will be able to do biz as usual after they come then you are either going to be frustrated or are wealthy enough to pay for others to raise your kid for you; and then the question is why the heck are you having kids?

I have seen young couples have kids becuase all their friends were having kids. Wow, talk about one of the worst reasons to have a kid. The amount of work involved to raise kids is not slight, this is not like buying a new puppy cause he is just so damn cute how can you day no....oi

I have worked in corpland and in the home. I am now a stay at home dad for a 1 year old , a 4 year old with a 12 year old when she is not in school. By far the toughest most time demanding job I have had is raising the kids tot he point that I often look back on the corp days as a walk in the park.

The rewards though, there is no way to even compare them, it is a whole level above anything you can get in corpland.

Just my 2 cents


posted by: tomhiggins at January 18, 2007 3:43 PM

Best advice I was given would have to be: "From the moment the baby is born, something on you will always be wet". Truer words were never spoken.

My own advice (without doubling up on what has already been posted): Turn off the flash! Take your pictures in natural light, this way your kid won't look blue.

posted by: Liz at January 18, 2007 4:11 PM

One good piece of advice I can give:
Put the crib together in the baby's room. Don't try and assemble it in the living room with a couple of beers, unless you want extra practice assembling, disassembling, and then resassembling cribs, or you plan to have the baby sleep in the living room.

Trust me on this.

Also, cribs can not be adjusted or reassembled at 3 am or after 2 or more beers. (again just trust me on this)

posted by: Mulsanne at January 18, 2007 5:52 PM

Take it one moment at a time. You can handle anything if you live moment by moment. Life is lived one breath at a time. Looking at life any other way when you have a newborn will get you instantly overwhelmed.

posted by: Trisha at January 18, 2007 11:35 PM

Best advice:
Don't ever pass up an opportunity to take more napkins.

Never say never. You just don't know what you'll end up having to deal with and the solution that you ridiculed and criticized may be your salvation.

[lol, love that napkins one. -ed.]

posted by: kelli at January 19, 2007 4:12 PM

Get your mental health in order. Postpartum depression unfortunately is not something that just affects the mother.

posted by: Tim at January 19, 2007 4:20 PM

I had to stop reading, so I could post something original and not be influenced by everybody else's brilliant suggestions. Quick thoughts:

- Video cameras are nice, but get a microphone. If you have an iPod, get a microphone that attaches to it (iMic or something similar). Record your kid's voice (even the cries of the first few months) at least once a month, more if you can. You'll cherish these memories.

- When your wife breast-feeds, sit next to her when you can. Do not read a magazine, stare at the tv, or listen to music on headphones. Be there. Listen to the sounds. Watch your baby. This time doesn't last long, and it's really a miraculous thing. Be a part of it.

- Also, when wife is breast-feeding, offer stuff. Water. A pillow. The tv remote control.

- Get your muscles in good shape - not ripped, but just fit. Look for some easy stretching and toning exercises you can do at home. Once the baby comes, the trips to the gym are going to disappear, and meanwhile, you'll have more strain to your back and your legs than you can even imagine. And your shoulders. And your arms! Holy cripes, I couldn't believe how badly my forearms hurt sometimes, after rocking the kid to sleep for an hour.

- Stop cursing now. Listen to what you say. Start making yourself say "darn" or "fudge" or, I don't know, "hootenanny" - whatever else you can say besides actual curse words. I constantly curse when I'm in the car, driving, and I had to work to force myself to stop once I wasn't the only one in the car anymore. It's hard - start working on it now.

- Get a bunch of music you love (and audiobooks, if you're into them) and put it on your computer or on an iPod, something you can access quickly. If you're home at all with your kid, you'll have lots of down time where the kid's napping and you're stuck holding him/her.

- Don't use your wife's flouncy diaper bags with the really cute flower pattern. Buy your own. Whether it's an official dad diaper bag or just an old Jansport backpack, you need your own. Seriously.

- Don't let your wife go to ped appointments alone. You're part of this, too. Go. Have at least one question to ask at every appointment. If you need to, check with your wife for a good question.

- Last and possibly most important: take time for yourself. Dad work is important work, but take one day a month and go out for beers with your friends. Go watch a movie. Go to the ball game by yourself. Do the things you enjoy. Make proper arrangements with your other half, plan well in advance, and don't feel guilty while you're gone. (But you'll probably want to bring your cell phone, just in case.)

posted by: Sky Bluesky at January 20, 2007 12:43 AM

This is advice for pregnant fathers: dads-to-be, right? Agree with J - can't believe nobody's talking up the sex. You seldom have the opportunity to experience the eroticism of the ultimate expression of the fecund female form. And you are going to be on your own for quite awhile after the baby is born. When she finally does need you, it can be glorious, if you can find time together. But until she does, you will need your memories. Make them while you can; the post-partum abstinence can last a long time and it is your sacred duty to be patient, supportive and non-demanding. Your mate's body will never be the same after childbirth - revel in the mystery of her womanhood, throughout the pregnancy. Consult with the OB about late pregnancy sex; but don't be afraid of her unless the doc says "no".

Prepare for delivery! But don't only prepare for C-section. I recommend Lamaze classes - we did them for both children - whether the delivery is done with or without drugs. Talk to her OB/midwife, ask if you can glove-and-gown up to participate in the actual delivery. Like every other detail of fatherhood, it'll make a real man out of you if you just pay attention. To receive the fruit of your loins from your wife's womb directly into your own hands is the most moving life experience I have known, and I have been so graced not once but twice. Our kids are now five and three, and I was able to assist in both deliveries.

posted by: jimmy don't play that at January 20, 2007 5:37 AM

The best advice I got, prior to actually being a parent, was about 2 months before birth. A friend of mine said "You know how people keep telling you to sleep a lot right now? Rubbish. Don't sleep. Start grabbing an hour here, two hours there. It will make the actual transition to having a baby much easier. Believe me, if you go from 8 straight hours of sleep a night, to 1-2 hours of sleep at a time, 2 or 3 times a day, you'll be miserable."

I took that advice, and I think it worked out pretty well for me. :)

posted by: Tim at January 21, 2007 2:26 PM

advice? how about enjoy it. i have a 5 month old son and it has been nothing but a joy. all that other stuff will not matter compared to the happiness your child will bring you. just wait until you hear him/her laugh.

posted by: walter at January 22, 2007 9:45 AM

The best advice I got?

Return 80% of the clothes you get as presents for the first six months. They grow so quickly, they only wear them for a moment, and anyway they're not going out on the town the first few months: they're mostly at home, or with grandma, and no one cares if they're just wearing a plain blue onesie, rather than the adorable expensive outfit. Plus you get more gifts than you need at the start, and you get very few gifts after the first few months. So save your credits until the baby is older, and you can spread out the "birth" gifts so you don't have to pay for baby's clothes until they are 2 years old!

posted by: michael R. at January 22, 2007 11:21 PM

I hope I not repeating anyone... my eyes got really tired about 3/4 of the way down the posts and I'm still not getting more than 5 hours of sleep in a stretch. :)

-Sleep when the baby sleeps. Everyone will tell you this. It sounds perfectly reasonable. But you still might not do it because of all the "things that need to be done." If you just can't help yourself follow the 15-minute rule: Once the baby is asleep you have 15 minutes to get things done, then you must go to sleep.

-Take off as much time as you possibly can when the baby is born. This time will only happen once for this child. You can always go back early if you feel you are ready, but generally once you are back you won't be able to get more time. In some countries Mom and Dad get one year off paid with a newborn. Wouldn't that be nice?

posted by: Tracy at April 3, 2007 12:44 AM

In the crazy first month or so, TRY extra hard to be nice to your partner - this applies to mommy and daddy both. If your partner is the one being not very nice to you, cut him or her some slack. It could be sleep deprivation, hormones or post partum depression. Looking back over the first 7 months of my son's life, my husband has been the best father I could hope for - and yet I vaguely remember losing it many times in that first month and biting his head off for probably not very good reasons (though it seemed so very, VERY important at the time, of course.)

posted by: Susan at April 19, 2007 5:10 PM
post a comment

remember personal info?