I remember sitting in the hospital holding my newborn son. It was an amazing feeling. My wife had done so well in his delivery. Both my wife and son were doing great. In the hospital I felt safe and secure. But pretty soon it dawned on me… now what? I felt adequately prepared for the delivery and my responsibilities during it, but what do I do now?
New dads have tons of questions and there’s nothing wrong with that. Having a newborn means a gigantic change in your life, mindset and outlook. I’ve compiled a list of a few things I want new dads to know.
Sleep When Your Baby Sleeps - I got this advice a lot. I didn’t follow it, but I wish that I had. When babies are born they don’t know much and that includes night and day. Do not expect that you’ll get a full 8 hours of sleep at night until your kids is 12 months old. Yea, that’s a whole year. Some people get lucky and their child sleeps through the night at three months, but don’t bank on that. Babies like to mess with your head. They’ll sleep great one night and you’ll feel amazing when it happens. But that is just a trap. Those devious little humans want to lull you into a false sense of security. Honestly babies have sleep cycles and regressions that come and go at key times of development. So the advice remains, sleep when your baby sleeps.
Babies like to mess with your head. They’ll sleep great one night and you’ll feel amazing when it happens. But that is just a trap.
You Will Make a Mistake - You are not going to be the perfect father. You will misplace the favorite passie. You will forget to turn on the monitor. You will dress you baby in mismatched socks. It will happen, but don’t let it discourage you. There is no such thing as the perfect parent. Don’t hold yourself up to some unattainable standard. The internet is great for new dads to learn, hence this article, but it can also bring a lot of unreal expectations. As long as you love your child and do your best, you will be fine. Just breathe.
You Will Get Mad - This is the most important piece of advice I can give a new dad. It was given to me by a friend and it was true; you will get mad at your newborn. Yes, even you will have this rush of anger at 3:12am with a fussy little person. I can clearly remember rocking in my son’s room and understanding why people lose control and abuse children. I am not condoning this behavior, I’m just saying I recognized how someone could lose control. Thankfully I never have.
The good news is, if you get ahead of this inevitable situation, you can control the outcome. The best thing you can do in a fit of anger is gently place your child in their crib and walk away. That’s all you have to do. Don’t leave the house, but simply walk out of the room. Gather your thoughts and go back in with a fresh perspective. You will be amazed at how quickly you calm down. Also, don’t keep this a secret, talk to your wife or a friend about it. Parents understand parenting struggles.
Take Longer Paternity Leave - Take this bit of advice from a guy, who in hindsight, should have stayed home longer. Men don’t fully understand the transition that a mother goes through in the few days between giving birth and going home. Everything is different now even when to eat and sleep. Don’t assume your wife has it all together. Hospitals don’t give you a baby manual when you checkout. Motherhood has a raw side. Her mind and body are changing to and repairing itself from a massive medical event. As a man, you won’t understand this. But as the father, you need to be there for your wife and child as they navigate this new world. Don’t be too quick to head back to the office and hide behind your desk and pretend everything is fine at home. Stay a while with your new child and your wife. Help them get to know each other and be there to help clean up messes, change diapers and comfort both of them when they need it.
As the father, you need to be there for your wife and child as they navigate this new world.
Don’t be Afraid to be Alone with Your New Baby - When my wife went out for the first time and left me alone with our new tiny human, I was conflicted. On one hand I wanted my wife to escape the house for a while and for a few hours remember what the outside world was like. On the other hand, I was scared I was going to permanently damage our child. I somehow thought I was going to become every dumb sitcom dad that ever existed. (How the media treats dads as dumb is a post for another time.) But nothing went wrong. My son snoozed away in his swing while I cleaned up. The world didn’t come to an end and my son is not emotionally damaged. Don’t be scared to be the caregiver for your child. Your wife will need time away from the both of you and you’ll need alone time with your new baby. You will never have this time again, so make the most of it.
Pray About It - Being a parent can leave you feeling alone. I know that may be hard to fathom with a newborn, but really, raising a child can be isolating. Make sure you take the time to pray. Ask God for strength, wisdom and a servants heart. God’s grace and strength are essential to raising a child. You don’t have to parent alone, God is with you.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
There is a ton of other great advice that new dads need. In the comments below, share some of your best advice for the new guys.