From swaddling to blocking out background noise, this is an essential list of dad tips for the newborn stage. The only addition I would suggest is using earplugs instead of a fan, especially since Winter is around the corner.
1. Master the swaddle.
When I was pregnant with our first daughter, I was working as a student nurse in labor and delivery, so I admit that I kind of spaced out during the learn-to-swaddle portion of our childbirth class. Not my husband, though. He painstakingly practiced and perfected that darn blanket swaddle to an art form that still, after years of working in OB, rivals—and probably surpasses—my own baby swaddle. If not for the magic quality that swaddling possesses in calming a squalling infant, my husband recommends that all dads master the swaddling technique if for nothing else than to have one-up on their partners.
2. Skip the non-essentials.
Confession: We totally had a diaper genie with our first daughter. And we used it almost religiously for at least a month. And now? My husband just shakes his head and laughs at the memory. He cautions dads-to-be that the process of emptying and refilling your now sausage-like poopy diapers is much more disgusting work than simply disposing of the things in the first place. Plus, newborns poop so much in the middle of the night you won’t be awake enough to use it anyways. Pro dad tip? Skip the diaper genie, the wet wipe warmer and just learn to perfect your lost basketball skills with aiming for a strategically placed trash can instead.
3. Learn the football hold.
You know how babies typically love their moms best? Yeah, I know—go figure, right? But there comes a time in every mother’s life when she must hand off her squalling infant in complete and total exasperation because she just doesn’t know what else to do, and it is in that moment of desperation that the football hold can transform any formerly hapless father into the hero of the hour. Without the comfort of a mother’s bosom, the football hold is a must-learn for any man who wants to hold his offspring. It’s like a magic switch to turn screaming babies into sleeping bundles of bliss.
4. Sleep with a fan.
My husband thought I was crazy when he learned I was bred from birth to require the sound of a fan to sleep. But now? He’s a total convert. If you pick up a simple $10 box fan and switch it on at night or when your baby naps, not only will you skip any pricey “sound machines” to help lull your baby to sleep, but you will have created an effective sleep “trigger” for your infant to cue him or her when it’s night-night time. Plus, the fan is helpful to drown out the inevitable chaos that occurs when you add to your brood. Oh, and sleeping with a fan may reduce the risk of SIDS, as well.
5. Soak up the napping-baby-on-your-chest phase while you can.
As I pestered my husband for his fatherly advice in this piece, a look of fond nostalgia passed on his face. “Tell them that watching a football game on a Sunday afternoon with a sleeping baby on your chest is the best thing ever,” he said with a wistful glance towards our living room TV, now more likely to be covered in sticky fingerprints and blasting “Curious George” than the NFL theme song. “I miss those days.”
And there you have it—the simple advice from a father, his babies, a fan and the loving remembrance of weekend football.