As a wildly experienced father of three who is a master of every parenting nuance, I felt it was time for me to impart some of my wisdom to all you new daddies out there. Upon the birth of a first child, we all feel a little unprepared (slang for completely freaked out of our minds) and it helps to have access to a little friendly advice, even from a doofus.
So in no particular order, here are my Top 11 Things Every First-Time Dad Should Know.
11. You will occasionally touch poop. It’s OK.
It’s inevitable when you’re inexperienced at changing diapers that you will touch poop, maybe even daily. Don’t freak out. Baby poop won’t warp you for life like adult poop will, if you touch it. As excrement goes, it’s as inoffensive as anything on the market. It doesn’t even stink that bad at first. The baby adds in stink molecules at around six months.
10. Your house is no longer yours.
Just get used to the fact now that your carefully arranged, good-smelling, fresh-carpeted home is a thing of the past. It’s now a family house. Within the next two years, the carpet will be permanently stained, every empty space will be filled with molded plastic baby toys, and any breakable item not located higher than three feet will, in fact, become broken and every electronic device disabled. I recommend hanging your valuables from the ceiling as if you’re camping in bear country.
9. Get a minivan
Yeah, sure, I know. You swore you’d never be a minivan guy and you don’t plan to now. They aren’t cool or stylish or sexy or anything like that.
Guess what? To the outside world, neither are you anymore. You’re a dad who needs to haul stuff.
8. Always have plenty of wipes within arm’s reach during diaper changes.
A baby-changing table is like your workbench; always have the proper tools at hand. Remember that just because you’ve thoroughly cleaned your baby’s bum, that doesn’t mean that more poop isn’t on the way immediately. A newborn has an amazing capacity for manufacturing the stuff, and poop can and will appear at a moment’s notice and without warning. Expect the unexpected.
Also, if your baby is a boy, always place a bath cloth or diaper rag over his Johnson during the changing process, unless you’re a fan of pee fountains.
7. Spit up and vomit are two different things.
Don’t worry about being spit up on. It’s practically no different than someone spilling warm milk on your shirt. Simply peel that one off and grab another one for the baby to spit up on. Purchase your t-shirts at Goodwill and don’t worry about it.
However, when spit-up upgrades to vomit — about the time the baby becomes a toddler — everything changes. Vomit must be avoided at all costs. If, God forbid, you find yourself alone with a kid who has vomited and you must deal with it, I recommend a bandana or buff over your face, safety glasses, rubber gloves, and a bath towel that can be incinerated immediately after. Don’t look directly at the vomit, either. This can have long-lasting consequences. Look to the side.
6. Get Bugs Bunny DVDs.
When your baby becomes old enough that WWII movies are no longer appropriate to watch in his or her presence, be sure to have some Bugs Bunny available, either on DVD or downloaded. This way, the child can simultaneously learn proper humor and sarcasm and you’re not subjected to “Dinosaur Train” and “Paw Patrol,” which have been known to emasculate human adult men. The kid should be exposed to the finer things.
5. Master the art of fake sleeping.
There will be nights when this is critical because a few months after your Little Miracle arrives, it becomes every man and woman for themselves as far as sleep is concerned.
You love your wife, but enough is enough.
So as soon as the baby starts crying over the monitor at 2:30 a.m., go ahead and start with the rhythmical breathing even if you’re fully conscious. Then, as soon as you’re aware that your wife is awake and is contemplating sending you into the nursery, add in a slight snore — not too much, just a slight clicking sound. If she’s still not sure, finish with the crème de la crème: a small spasm as if you’re in REM sleep and you’re falling in a dream.
You can deal with your guilt later, after you’ve had some rest. (And for the record, she was doing the same thing.)
4. Your wife’s boobs are off limits. Sorry.
It’s one of the Good Lord’s greatest practical jokes, the ultimate forbidden fruit. As we all know, the physical process of having a baby affects the size and shape of a woman’s… assets. Being the unscrupulous, shallow cads that all men are, this metamorphosis is always a good thing, almost miraculous.
Until that is, the new father becomes temporarily insane and puts a move on the sore and ultra-sensitive mother of his recently arrived progeny.
This can result in a smackdown that would make Rick Flair proud (and also sad). Retribution can be swift and severe, often resulting in a season-long suspension.
For the love of God, man, direct your attention elsewhere! Those are no longer for you! At least not until they’ve returned to their normal size!
3. It’s OK to rock your baby to sleep.
Modern baby books will instruct you to place your screaming child in the crib at bedtime and walk away. This supposedly helps the child to develop its sleep schedule and understand that the crib is for snoozing. That’s all well and good, but it removes one of the best Dad moments from the equation.
Here’s what you do: Put on a great collection of children’s music (mine was a CD of orchestral Disney tunes) and sit in your glider/rocker with your child. Grab your mandatory copy of “Oh My, Oh My, Oh Dinosaurs” and read it for the baby, all the way through. (You’ll enjoy it.) Then, turn the lights off and start rocking. Within 10 minutes, your son or daughter will be snoozing on your chest and you will enjoy the very best part of your day. Place the baby in the crib and sneak out. Babies will learn to put themselves to sleep in time, trust me, but only you will have these amazing memories.
(Pro tip: Make sure all noise-making toys are off the floor of the nursery before bedtime. Otherwise, the room becomes a minefield of items ready to start mooing or clucking or barking at the slightest movement, which will undo all your hard bedtime work.)
2. Exercise common sense.
When you have your first baby, you will be inundated with advice, not only from your family and friends, but also from books, Hollywood, and strangers on the street — including me. Some of this advice will be worth keeping and some, complete hogwash. Take it all with a grain of salt. Even though being a good dad is not always easy, God set it up so that if we use good, solid, common sense, we should be able to figure things out.
And if your common sense fails you, just focus on not to dropping the baby on its head.
1. Enjoy the baby years.
Having your first child can be exhausting for a dad. (Yes, it obviously is for a mom, too, but this article is about dads.) Sleep deprivation, in particular, can make the initial three-to-six months of your child’s life feel roughly like the length of the Precambrian Period. You will wonder how you’re going to survive it.
But one night, a wonderful thing will happen: you’ll get a full eight hours of sleep. (Ours came the night I forgot to switch on the baby monitor.) You will awake feeling like a million bucks and the challenges of changing crazy poopy diapers and ignoring your wife’s pornstar boobs will seem minuscule. Being a well-rested human will turn you into SuperDad, and you and your mini-me will start having some serious fun.
Don’t overlook these months, because they go away quickly. Enjoy your baby before he or she learns how to talk (and then won’t shut up), how to operate an Xbox to the exclusion of everything and everyone else, and then grows into a teenager capable of your own destruction.
All poops aside, the baby years are the best.
Originally Published on Doofus Dad