They handed me a baby. I blinked for a second, stunned by the whole experience. Not just the recent hours I’ll never forget, but the past 40 weeks, from hearing “you’re pregnant” to now.
They handed me a baby. What was I supposed to do now?...
The first year is a steep learning curve for any new dad. Here’s what to expect:
A sense of fear.
It’s normal to feel totally terrified at some stage. There’ll be a moment when that floppy little head will be resting in your hands and their complete and utter dependence on you will hit you like a truck.
I couldn’t bathe my son for a few months after he was born as I was convinced - and I mean absolutely convinced - that I’d drown him somehow. And then there was the first time I cut his nails. I was petrified. But time wore on and I overcame these fears, and you will too. It’s amazing how quickly these things become natural, just another part of daily life. And remember that fear is okay, it’s a sign that you care and it keeps you sharp.
A lack of sleep.
I don’t know if anyone’s ever mentioned this before, but you may have to survive on less sleep than you’re used to. It’s not that bad…. Actually, that’s a lie. It can be awful. I have no idea how I managed to stand up at work after some of those nights. It was so bad that I had to take a few days off. It’s important to go easy on yourself. Take time off if you need to and don’t feel bad about it.
Newborns are sponges. They’re figuring how to control their own bodies, understanding language and grasping new concepts. In other words, they’re learning how to be a person. It’s a critical time which means you have to play with them the right way. Here’s how:
Step one: look at your baby.
Step two: talk to your baby.
Step three: respond to your baby.
Step 4: repeat.
That’s it. There’s no toy, nothing you can buy nor any activity you can do that will be more important to them than you are. Your company, your attention and your love is the best thing you can do for them in those early months. Don’t be afraid to get on the floor and spend time just staring into those eyes. It means more than any nursery mural, any expensive mobile or any DVD that’s guaranteed to turn your baby into the next Mozart or Einstein. Never underestimate your value as a parent of that little bub.
So that’s it. Go easy on yourself, try not to get too frozen by those waves of fear and remember that the best thing you can give your kid is your time. Enjoy that first year, because one day they’ll be bigger and they’ll walk, talk and hit you in the you-know-whats.
About the author – Seamus Curtain-Magee
Seamus Curtain-Magee is a father of 2, teacher, nerd, ancient history buff and blogger at www.dadinating.com. He writes about the trials and tribulations of life with kids in the modern world. You can also follow his rantings on Facebook.