New dad's toolbox: What you really need
Congratulations, you're a dad! Are you equipped with the tools you need to take care of your new baby?
You need a hammer to pound a nail and a wrench to tighten a bolt — you know how to handle your tools. Unfortunately, none of those workshop gadgets are going to help you raise your infant.
Tool #1: Flexibility
If you're one of those guys who likes a routine, then you may have to step out of your comfort zone for a while. Babies, especially the really young, don't really give a hoot about your schedule. You have to change your patterns — your baby's too young to adjust hers.
"Stay flexible," advises Kelly. "As your baby's physical and sensory development accelerates, her natural schedule will change. You will have to adjust (and sometime revamp) the routine. This is normal and healthy, even if maddening. Roll with it."
Tool #2: Good hands
Your newborn isn't breakable, but he is delicate. Finding a comfortable "hold" will soothe and relax both you and the baby.
"Try the 'squirmy football hold,'" suggests Kelly. "Place the baby's head in the crook of your elbow, hold him close to your body (like a pigskin) and support his butt and upper legs with your hand." It's a great way for you and your child to make face-to-face contact.
Kelly warns, "Do not attempt to leap over or head-butt defensive linemen with baby in tow."
Tool #3: Food
Think about how cranky you get when you're hungry. Your baby doesn't like the feeling either, so do your part to make sure she's fed.
"Even if Mom breast-feeds, take your turn to bottle feed," says Kelly. "Your baby needs the experience of being nourished — physically and emotionally — by both Mom and Dad."
Tool #4: Resilience
If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. You're learning right along with your baby, and you will face parenting challenges. Do what works for you — no matter what the books or anyone else may say.
"Your baby can't learn to walk without tumbling, and you and Mom learn effective parenting by trial and error, too," says Kelly. "If you find something that works, then do it. Don't listen to those who say you're doing it wrong just because it's different. Kids benefit from difference!"
Tool #5: Fortitude
"Remember that baby isn't out to get you," explains Kelly. "She's working from the most basic instincts, like the need for warmth, food, sleep and clean diapers. She has no free will yet, so she's not acting this way to annoy you.
"You can’t spoil a baby — or discipline one, either. Work on that stuff next year, when the baby is developmentally ready." There is an entirely new set of tools for each of your child's stages of life!
Look for Kelly's new book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Being a New Dad, in spring 2013.