27 priceless pieces of advice for new dads

Getting ready to welcome your first baby is like preparing for a huge adventure to a mysterious land. You can read as many books as you like, but until you get there it’s impossible to know what it’s really, truly like.

So as one man prepares to become a father for the first time, he’s reached out to the internet to find out what’s in store. Reddit user jfk_47 posted a question on the social networking site, asking parents to share their pearls of wisdom.

“My wife and I are days away from having a little baby boy to join us on this life rollercoaster. I know to have them sleep on their back and don’t give them a blanket when they sleep but what else do I need to know? What are the top 10 things we should know about caring for my newborn?” he writes.

He was completely overwhelmed by the response – much of it from other dads more than happy to share their secrets. And we loved some of their answers so much that we thought we’d share them with you! Here are some of our favourites:

Before baby arrives

“I took an hour and practised putting the baby seat in and out (of the car) half a dozen times. Made the trip home from the hospital a tiny bit less scary.”

“Take a course in infant CPR and first aid. It’s one of those skills that you hope you don’t need but just knowing that you know what to do in case you need it is a huge comfort.”

“You are going to take a million pictures. Think now how you will manage and share those.”

newborn first weeks

Baby’s first weeks

“If she will be breastfeeding, the baby will be nursing all the time. ALL THE TIME. The 10-12 times the hospital tells you is a minimum. It can be really exhausting and overwhelming and many parents think it’s a sign that something is wrong. Nope, totally normal! It gets much better with time.”

“They make all sorts of noises when they breathe, like little grunt factories. Also, their breathing is irregular. Both these things are even more true when they’re asleep. Don’t panic! They just haven’t mastered breathing yet.”

“Little dude is gonna literally just sleep/eat (and poop and cry) at first. Try to make sure to get enough sleep by having a nap when he is sleeping (at least one of you).”

“Skin-to-skin contact is awesome for babies. Hold him naked or diapered-only against your and mum’s bare chest. Helps his body be comfortable outside the womb in this new scary place.”

“If people want to visit you tell them to be on time, and don’t be afraid to tell them that it’s time for you to go to bed.”

“Weather permitting, for the first week or so take them for a short walk outside in the early morning and again during sundown. It will help readjust their clocks from sleeping in the day when mum is moving around and being awake at night when mum is still.”

“Little boys are like loaded guns. As soon as that diaper is off, they will fire! Make sure you take it off slowly so you don’t cop a full blast of baby wee.”

“You can never have enough washcloths or swaddlers. The crying passes. Baby wipes clean everything.”

“Babies scream. A lot. Mentally tell yourself, ‘Nothing is wrong, they are just crying’, and hold them. Walk them somewhere that they can be loud and it won’t matter. And then learn to laugh at the lack of sleep and constant noise. This lasts 18-plus years. Enjoy.”

“Sing and talk to the baby all the time (except those few minutes when they are asleep). Language development starts in utero, but after birth, language acquisition is key to their development, happiness, and your sanity.”

“Just hold them at every opportunity. Touch is the best communication with babies and that is how they know they are loved and secure.”

“Babies have personalities, defined by temperaments. Take all the advice and suggestions but know that none of it might work for your baby and that’s OK! All this gives you a starting point but it may not all work. We got told so many times what ‘worked like magic’ but none of it did for us. So take all the advice in stride and don’t get upset if your baby doesn’t respond to the ‘magic’ answers!”

“The first few days are not the norm. When you sit in the dark in the middle of the night, on the first day back from the hospital, and the baby won’t stop crying and you don’t know how it will stop and what to do and that you have made a huge mistake if your life is going to be like this from now on … say this to yourself: it will not be like that forever, it will get better, I will get better and this is not a mistake in the slightest.”

tired parents with newborn

On two becoming three

“Be sure to care for your wife, too. Her body is going to be a mess for a while. She’ll need to rest. She’ll need to feel pretty. She’ll need to feel that you love her, even if she doesn’t want to/can’t have sex. She’ll need to feel like she’s not just a baby factory.”

“You will both be too exhausted for any sort of intimacy.”

“Just help out. Do everything and when you think there aren’t any more chores, then walk around your place and clean up again. When she asks why, just say to her that she is doing the hard work and deserves to know everything is taken care of so she can be with the baby. But when she needs that distraction or hour away, tell her how wonderful she is and suggest a nice pedicure. It’s a great break for new mums.”

“You’ll be exhausted at first. Emotions get heated when people are overly tired, so cut each other a bit of slack.”

“Make sure BOTH you and your wife know the signs of (post-natal depression). Sometimes they are hard to spot. If your wife needs help, help her.”

“Learn to sleep in shifts with your wife. If she is breastfeeding then consider pumping and storing for you to bottle feed half the time. My wife pumped on one side while breastfeeding on the other. First it makes you as the father far more involved in the early days, and second, if you time it right you and the wife can still both get seven or eight hours a night (and before we figured that out we were so far beyond tired it was unreal).”

“You can’t ‘spoil’ them. Hold them as much as you want. Sleep however you want. Set the routine that works best for you. Ignore the peanut gallery and their opinions. Trust your instincts as well as your wife’s. QUICKLY find a way to discuss different ideas and compromise on your collective parenting style. Continually re-evaluate the split of responsibilities, babies change all the time so adjust your schedule and jobs frequently to keep everyone happy.”

“One thing that worked well for us and still does is that bath time is daddy time. Gives mum a break, dad gets one-one time and it’s usually happy time.”

“Try to take more responsibility than you think is your fair share. Then take more. You will not feel nearly as drained (literally) so try to be the house’s work horse.”

“You and the wife need to share time feeding, changing, and napping with the baby.”

“You will laugh, you will cry, you will fill the cloud with photos. All of it is worth it, enjoy and do everything in your power to be the best teammate to your wife. You used to be a couple and now you are a group. Don’t lose the couple moments in all the shuffle, even if it just means 10 minutes together after bedtime. Enjoy!”

Michelle Rose

Michelle Rose

Michelle is a journalist and mum to two girls who are obsessed with dinosaurs, fairies, pirates and princesses in equal measure. She lives in Melbourne's east with her husband, daughters and a giant, untameable labradoodle. Michelle loves all things vegetarian, wine (it's a fruit) and online shopping.

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