Categories

Baby’s First Week At Home: Invaluable Tips For New Dads

Me and Violet and that first week magic.

The week we brought my daughter, Violet, home from the hospital was the probably one the craziest/best of my life.

For first time fathers, everything you have ever known up until then had been so different.

Up until that moment you walk through the front door of wherever you call home with a baby in your possession, your entire life has been mostly about you and your personal needs and choices.

You have, in essence, marched to the beat of your own drum, singing your own song along the way.

But no more.

Babies obviously require around-the-clock attention and care, so there’s that.

But even beyond the needs of your child, fathers experiencing the first week at home with a new family member are also apt to find out quickly that they are no longer the central character in their own play. That kid has stormed the stage, you see, and he or she is going to demand so much spotlight that if a new dad isn’t somewhat prepared for it (we can NEVER be fully prepare!), then he may quickly find himself in a doghouse of the magnitude he never knew even existed.

Now, my object here isn’t to scare any new pops. Not at all.

In fact, my aim is to help you by telling you some things that I learned during the week we first came home from the hospital with our daughter.

So come on, what have you got to lose??!!

I have been down that road.

And I’m here to tell you, that with a few tips and a whole lot of new-found focus, the greatest part of your life is about to kick off with one hell of a memorable week.

nggallery id=’127724′

  • Be There 1 of 20
    Be There
    It seems pretty obvious to say this, but guys, if there is any chance in hell that you can get a week or two off of work when your newborn comes home, DO IT. I say this not just because your presence will help your wife/baby's mom quite a bit, but also because this will be one of the best times in your life. I guarantee it. And, I know that some fellows just can't get the vacation time they want and all, but if you can beg /borrow/steal the time from work, you will never ever regret it for as long as you live.
  • Diaper Changer 2 of 20
    Diaper Changer
    Up until now, you haven't probably changed many diapers in your time. Those days need to be gone now. This is a new era and there are going to be so many diapers to be swapped out that there is absolutely no reason or excuse on Earth that you can come up with that will get you out of it. So right from the get-go, even when you're still at the hospital, start changing as many diapers as your wife/baby mama. Plus, to be perfectly honest, it is, in and of itself, a real bonding time with your child. Let's face it....poop brings us closer!
  • Limit Visitors 3 of 20
    Limit Visitors
    Listen, everyone and their cousin is going to be real proud of you for becoming a new daddy. And they are also going to be chomping at the bit to squeal with delight at how cute your tyke is. But, don't rush things. You and your wife/baby mother are both exhausted and probably a little overwhelmed. The last thing you need is a houseful of people during that first week or so. Sure, if your mom or mother-in-law wants to come by and whip up a lasagne...that's just fine. And an afternoon with the grandparents meeting the new addition is a given. But besides that, leave it be just the three of you...mom, dad, and tiny tot. Right now, that's the only three any of you needs to hang with.
  • Tell Her She’s Beautiful 4 of 20
    Tell Her She's Beautiful
    Listen here, buddy. You and me, we don't have any idea what it's like to carry a baby around inside our guts for the better part of a year. And there's a reason for that, too. We would probably go bonkers before the kid arrived. So, remember that your wife/baby mama has been through the ringer here for a long long time, culminating with the physical trial that is the actual giving of birth. She probably feels worn out and bloated and bruised and frayed and un-pretty. So, make sure you tell her how beautiful she still is to you, man. Make sure you tell her, a couple of times at least, that you are so proud of what she has done for your family and that you are so glad that she is okay. And then...tell her she is really gorgeous again. Trust me, just tell her.
  • Housework & Chores 5 of 20
    Housework & Chores
    Even if you absolutely SUCK at housework...at doing laundry and dishes and mopping floors and tidying up, it is now time to get all that together. The stuff isn't rocket science and quite frankly this isn't 1953 when dads sat and smoked cigars in the easy chair while the woman who just gave birth to your child drug her butt through all the household motions. You need to show her that you mean business with this dad stuff, because she really needs you to help out. Throw a load of dirty bibs in the washer. Make the bed. Pick up your crap off of the bedroom floor and put it where it belongs. It'll make that first week, and all the stressful weeks to come, a whole lot easier.
  • A Memento 6 of 20
    A Memento
    Something you might want to consider during your return home is maybe presenting your baby's mommy with a small token of your appreciation. Now, this isn't mandatory, of course, and it's not for everyone, but I didn't ever do it and, in retrospect, I wish that I had. I think my wife would have really appreciated a small piece of jewelry or whatever, something just to show her that I've been thinking about her and all that she has been through this past year. It doesn't have to be anything expensive. Well, it shouldn't have to be, let's just put it that way and leave it at that.
  • Go For Walks 7 of 20
    Go For Walks
    I'm a big advocate of this one. See, there is a real enchantment that comes with just mom and dad and new baby spending so much time together that first week home. But, at the same time, let's be realistic: too much time together in an enclosed space with a crying baby can't be all that healthy to your mind, huh? So, if the weather isn't severe and you already have your stroller, get outside, all three of you, for some fresh air and a change of scenery. My kids were both born in winter time, but after a few days at home, you can be damn sure that we found new and interesting ways to bundle them up so that we could all take a 20 minute walk each afternoon!
  • Baby Massage! 8 of 20
    Baby Massage!
    Look, when I first heard the term 'baby massage' what came to mind was a whole set-up wherein tiny newborns were spoiled by their rich parents right from the start. I pictured expensive baby robes and costly oils and masseuses that cost 100 bucks every ten minutes. But, man, was I ever wrong. Massaging my little ones, with a dollar flask of baby oil and some gentle mom/dad hands is one of the best memories I have from our first weeks with our kids. After bath time or right before bed time, dim the bright lights, put on some lullabies, and take turns rubbing your bambino's super soft skin. You will find yourself in complete and utter awe at the perfectly petite human body that you've both created. And you will fall more and more in love with him or her by the second. (Oh yeah, it also helps them chill enough to fall asleep, which, you're gonna want to happen. Believe me.)
  • Mama Massage! 9 of 20
    Mama Massage!
    Do not underestimate the Force, young Luke. Do not underestimate the immense power that you hold in your very own hands. And do not overlook the benefits of giving your wife a little massage at the end of the long hard day. Now, you don't have to be all that skilled, most women are more than happy to let you know when you are DOING IT WRONG! But play it cool, rub her feet down, roll your knuckles down her spine, ask her what she wants done and then do it. She will be extremely thankful and it really does help relieve her tired body. One thing though, don't expect this kindness to lead to nookie. I made that mistake and got shot down big time, as I deserved to be. Remember, her body just went through the ravages of child birth while you just stood there cheering her on.
  • Take-Out Menus 10 of 20
    Take-Out Menus
    This one is a no-brainer, but I figured I might as well remind you. No one is going to feel like cooking much that first week home. Between learning all there is to learn about infant care, the odd hours, and the need to be doing a thousand other things when you're awake, just forget about either of you spending much time over the stove. Instead, rely for a week on the take-out menus that you wisely stashed away in the junk drawer a few weeks before the baby was born. And let's be blunt: if you're anything like me, you've been waiting all of your life for a week straight of pizza and wings and Chinese!
  • Take Pictures 11 of 20
    Take Pictures
    Even if mom is the photographer in the house, don't let that stop you from snapping away as much as possible. Take it from me, you won't ever feel as if you have too many pictures of your precious kiddo. Other people certainly will feel that way, but you won't. Plus, you may end up taking shots from a different perspective or at different times that otherwise you wouldn't have twenty years down the road.
  • Help In The Night 12 of 20
    Help In The Night
    This wasn't my strong suit, really. I'm more of a morning person, and since my wife hates mornings we have usually been able to work things out. But, the truth is, a lot of times newborns are up a helluva lot during the night; too much for one person to have to handle on their own when there is another perfectly capable partner lying there snoring his face off. Tell her to poke you in the back if she needs to. And then, go change that sweet little guy or gal and help them get back to sleep like you know you can do.
  • Deal With The Pets 13 of 20
    Deal With The Pets
    Most cats and dogs are pretty cool with newborns as long as they're sure they aren't a threat to their food bowls or their play time.( If you have a mountain lion or something in the house though...you're on your own here.) Something I did the day before we came home from the hospital with our first child was, I took a couple of her swaddle blankets from her crib and drove them to my house. Then, as soon as I got in the door I talked real gently and positive to my two black labs and let them sniff the new scent of the blankets. When I went back to the hospital, I stashed the blankets around the house in places where the dogs could whiff them. When we finally brought Violet back home, I swear the dogs hardly did much more than give her a sniff and wander off. So, get a plan together for your pets when that first week is coming, and then be the person in charge of them when it arrives.
  • Spend Time Together 14 of 20
    Spend Time Together
    When the baby is asleep, at nap time or for the night (yeah right!), make sure you and your lady spend some time together. Rent some DVDs, eat that pizza, crack some wine open (if she's allowed) and just look at each other and breathe. This is the time of your lives, and you need an hour or so a day to soak that in, I think.
  • Spend Time Alone 15 of 20
    Spend Time Alone
    There will be a need to be alone, you can count on that. And there is nothing wrong with that at all. Even going to the store to grab some supplies can offer a chance for the kind of quiet contemplation you typically can't find in the midst of everything going down. If you want to steal away during baby's nap-time, here's a real good tip that worked for me. Offer to help your wife/baby mama get a bath set up, with nice warm water and maybe a beverage and a couple of magazines or a book. Make an effort to make certain that she can relax on her own too, and she'll be much more inclined to see you go. And that's a win-win, man.
  • Little Gifts 16 of 20
    Little Gifts
    Whenever you happen to be out and about in the world during that first week while mama is still at home, try and pick her up a little gift for when you get back. I used to show back up at home with some nachos or a Slurpee or the latest celebrity gossip magazines for my wife and that never failed me even once. It doesn't have to be anything major, just something to let her know she was on your mind.
  • Ask Her What You Can Do? 17 of 20
    Ask Her What You Can Do?
    At any given moment, new mothers are always thinking about the things they need to get done to keep the whole household running smoothly. So, every now and then, just ask her if there's something you can help her with. Maybe she needs you to make a pediatrician appointment or warm up a baby bottle in the microwave. Whatever it might be, if you end up doing it, then you are being the dad you always hoped you'd end up being, right?
  • Start A ‘Time Capsule’ 18 of 20
    Start A 'Time Capsule'
    Try and make sure you do this one. Get yourself a decent plastic or wooden box and start saving all sorts of little reminders and mementos from your child's first days in this world. It's such a satisfying thing to pursue and I guarantee you will get caught up in it. I saved everything from hospital menus and footprint certificates to the plastic ID bracelets we all had to wear in the maternity ward. Years from now, all of that stuff will be something that your son and daughter are touched that you saved to show them.
  • Write 19 of 20
    Write
    You don't have to be a mommy-blogger or a daddy-blogger or any kind of blogger or writer or whatever to just write your thoughts down in a simple journal. But, it will be one of the greatest gifts that you could ever present to your children someday. Jot down as many thoughts, impressions, ideas, and anecdotes as you can manage, every single day for as long as you can manage when your baby first comes home into your world. Not enough people do this. My parents didn't, and yours probably didn't either. But think how awesome it would be if they had.
  • Patience 20 of 20
    Patience
    Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, will make you a better daddy and a better partner in this world than having more patience than you have ever had before. Bringing a new baby into your life and your home is a monumental occasion. And it can be as stressful at times as it is beautiful at others. But always always remember that the more you hold your cool and the more you think and resolve things in a humble peaceful manner, the better man you will be for the people in your life who need you and depend upon you more than you ever dreamed possible once upon a time.

 

You can also find Serge on his personal blog, Thunder Pie.

And on Facebook and Twitter.

Keep up with Babble.com on Facebook.

More from Serge:

Kids And Race And Equality: On Raising a Loving Child

The Heart Of A Gun: Bad Guys, Bullets, and the Batman Movie Massacre

The Ways Of Love: 20 Things My Kids Have Taught Me About Living

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: A Married Father’s Salute To Solo Parents

25 Things About My Son, Henry

MORE ON BABBLE:

25 things NOT to do with your baby
22 inspiring “first photos” of dads with their new babies
The most bizarre and inappropriate baby gear EVER
25 totally ridiculous vintage ads featuring babies
8 “must-have” baby products you don’t really need

Tagged as:

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, profile photo and other personal information you make public on Facebook (e.g., school, work, current city, age) will appear with your comment. Learn More.