"I believe in experience as a teacher, so you gotta live it in order to learn," says dad expert Chris Pegula, the father of three and founder of Diaper Dude.
Disaster #1: Poop on the loose
Unless it's in the toilet or a secure diaper, poop is a problem. You might be grossed out by it, but the little creator of the mess finds it fascinating. One morning, when Pegula thought his baby was sleeping in, the little guy was actually occupying himself.
"To my dismay, my little baby wasn't sleeping but creating a masterpiece on the lovely white walls of his bedroom," recalls Pegula. "He would've made Jackson Pollock proud. Well, maybe."
Solution: Zip-up pajamas. Pegula and his wife took serious action to break their baby of his new morning art routine: new pajamas! "We cut off the feet and put the pj's on backwards so my son was not able to take off his clothes to get to his creative juice (if you will).
"This was an a-ha moment that we shared with everyone," Pegula added. "A simple solution that was made immediate and life changing!"
Disaster #2: Public meltdown
When your child throws a temper tantrum in public, you'd swear she did it just to humiliate you. Pegula found himself — along with way too many others — held captive by his daughter's meltdown while on a five-hour flight.
"She was not willing to give up the tantrum," Pegula remembers. "It was as if she was possessed! It's horrifying when your child is screaming uncontrollably in a limited space surrounded by strangers."
Solution: Distraction. Pegula took his daughter to the plane's bathroom where they flushed the toilet over and over again. "Sometimes we need to get in the way; we need to distract our children," says Pegula. "A simple change of pace — and calmness on my part — opened up a whole new world and made life more enjoyable for everyone."
Disaster #3: Car trouble
"If parenting required getting a license, this disaster would definitely have my license revoked," reveals Pegula. We try to be so careful about infant car seats and safety that sometimes we are a little less careful about the easy stuff.
Pegula accidentally locked his baby in the car on a routine trip to the grocery store. "I wanted to die," says Pegula, who was able to reach his wife and get her to bring the spare keys. "The time it took her to get to me felt like an eternity. I was freaking out inside but realized I needed to stay calm for my son's sake."
Note: Call 911 or a locksmith if you don't have access to a relatively nearby spare key.
Solution: Silly faces. "By playing peek-a-boo, singing songs and making goofy sounds and faces, I was able to keep my son's anxiety at bay until my wife arrived with the keys," says Pegula. "He may require therapy because of this one day, but at least he'll have a great story to share."
More helpful advice for new dads
Diapering 101 for new dads
How to rock a baby sling like a real man
Daddy day care essentials