I’ve learned more in the last three months about babies than I did in the last 30 years. I’m certainly no expert, but that won’t stop me from sharing what I’ve gained by listening to those who are. So far I’m enjoying the ride and thought I’d share a few vignettes under the guise that it may bring hope to others with limited experience. Here we go!
Most babies don’t eat much at first. The kid loses weight while you stress about how hard breast feeding is. Two weeks in, your terrified that your child will starve. We were so traumatized by the anti-formula propaganda that my wife understandably asked me not to post pics of me bottle feeding our newborn. Ultimately, nature works this out and by week four we forgot the whole ordeal.
Hand-me-down clothing is gold. Find a source who has had their last child and beg them if you have to. Thank them profusely, add items to the collection and be sure to ‘pay it forward’ when you are done. Really done.
FaceTime with non-local relatives is about as good as technology gets nowadays. It will mean the world to them and you can keep the calls shorter because ‘they still haven’t perfected the technology yet.’
Make a commitment to each get out weekly for a personal activity. This will be easy enough for him, but she will require encouragement. Do it. It’s worth it.
Buy books. Read them together. Bonus points if your folks still have your books and you can share old favorites. If so inclined, baby prayer books are wonderful.
He loves the ‘back is best’ velcro baby swaddle because it feels like the womb. It’s so adorable the way he sleeps all wrapped up like a little burrito. When morning comes, he wrestles an arm free and swings it wildly. I un-velcro the whole thing and he gets to move all four limbs, it is nothing short of revelation. He drops a smile on me that melts my heart.
People think their child is the cutest because they are. I wonder if there is anyone out there who knows they have an ugly baby? Nah…
Don’t worry about the diaper genie so much at first. My initial encounter resulted in a broken refill cartridge, a slew of expletives and a visit by a seasoned, neighbor Dad. You won’t believe me, but newborn diapers don’t smell bad if the child is breastfed.
On the topic of smells, newborns smell like HEAVEN.
My parents were 25 and 23 when they had their first child. I don’t know how they managed to pull it off.
Bathtime is the most fun thing in the entire world. In 3 months, he hasn’t cried once while in the tub and he looks absolutely adorable afterward, wrapped up in his little swaddle towel.
Take video with your iPhone of milestone events and daily minutiae. I love looking back on recent history while I’m travelling or on AppleTV. You can also create a private YouTube channel for the family and select relatives. Don’t forget to sync your phone from time to time or else risk losing all when you accidentally drop your phone in the toilet.
We have not run out of short sleeved onsies, but never have enough pants with feet included. I don’t know why, but these bottoms are not on sale and hard to find in stores. Infants slide around too much to keep socks on and I only wish we had more pants with feet.
Before birth, select a baby photographer and make tentative plans for him/her to visit the house one week after the child is born. Babies aren’t easy to photograph and while a photoshoot is slightly inconvenient, I can’t argue with the result. These are memories that last a lifetime and mediocre iPhone photos just won’t cut it.
Why after one week? Babies develop baby acne and ours also had some pretty hefty dry scalp flaking. This did nothing to diminish his cuteness in our eyes, but wouldn’t quite cut it as Kodak memories. Don’t worry, it passes.
I believe there should be a word other than love to describe the way a parent feels about their child. I’ve never been so willing to do anything for someone before in my life.
People described this time as ‘a lot of work’ and others suggested a desire to ‘skip the first year,’ but I just don’t see it. I still feel like I can do whatever I want in this world, but what has changed are my priorities.
I normally don’t mind hopping a plane to visit friends or chase business, but traveling without the wife n kid sucks. I can say that much with certainty as I write this while cruising at 30,000 feet over Nevada.
Don’t let your wife co-mingle the diaper bag and her purse. Dad will never be able to find anything in that mess. And, I firmly believe in the separation of church and state.
Frequently praise your partner on what an amazing parent they are. There is plenty of time to debate the finer points of sleep schedules and swaddle technique, but the gratitude will get you further in life. Would you rather be right or be happy?
I started singing and dancing with the baby very early. Remember that at first they have a very limited attention span of only a few minutes. That attention span will slowly grow over time…unless you have an ADD child, in which case that is as good as it gets! Right, Mom?
As an amateur photographer I’d offer a few tips. First, buy a decent camera but only one that you won’t be afraid to damage and isn’t too complicated. Try to shoot in natural light and avoid using the flash. Second, great photographs can be taken with almost anything, but it’s the post production work that makes an image sparkle. Take a minute to learn how to use decent photo editing program. I like Aperture. Third, and most important, don’t get prints at drugstores or discount chains. Upload your files to real lab, like AdoramaPix, and allow them to color correct and print on lustre paper. The cost difference is negligible and you’ll be glad when your baby isn’t beet red.
Vaccinations are a hot button issue! After stressing over it, we came to the conclusion that there was no science to support a link to autism and we weren’t going to take parenting advice from Hollywood stars. Additionally, disease is a societal problem and immunizations are only effective when universally adopted. I just don’t agree that socio-economic status equates to exemption.
When he was a few weeks old, I tried cutting his finger nails. Talk about a moving target! Naturally, I missed the mark and he let out a shriek followed by, gasp, a drop of blood spewing forth from his tiny, little, adorable finger. Like the time(s) I dropped my brand new motorcycle on it’s side, I felt that I’d ruined him! I shed more tears than he, but he survived sans scarring and now his mother cuts his nails.
I attended the circumcision, which we chose to do in the hospital, opting against the ceremonial Bris. I’m glad I was there to hold his hand, but regret watching. Good thing the nurse placed a seat nearby, because Daddy got a little woozy.
I used to think I might want to have a child, but didn’t feel ready financially, emotionally, professionally etc. It turns out there is no right time. I’m glad that my wife was able to tell me when it was time and that I had the good sense to follow her lead.
They really do grow up so fast. It’s cliche, but this is the best time of your life. Enjoy!
*mobile post -written photographed and posted on iPhone 5.