I haven’t been posting here nearly as frequently as before. This is because we’ve just welcomed our baby boy into the world almost 1 month ago. It has been a wild ride so far. Mostly just trying to survive and learning to deal with a new crisis everyday. The coronavirus outbreak in Asia hasn’t made things any easier. We’ve found ourselves cooped up inside our apartment most days to avoid exposing our little one to any germs. But a silver lining in this situation is working from home for several weeks. As I mentioned in a previous post, paternity leave in Hong Kong is very limited, so it’s been great to get to spend some extended time at home with my son.
I thought I’d make my way back into the blogging world with a quick post outlining my key fatherhood tips for newborns that I’ve learned in this short time. As parents, we’re bombarded by countless blogs, websites, experts, and relatives giving us advice. I figured I’d add my 2 cents. However, this advice is coming from someone who is experiencing things at this very second. This is basically realtime advice. Hopefully these tips help some new parents cope with the first month. It really is quite a shock to the system.
90% of the time your baby is crying, it’s because they are hungry
The other 10% is either a dirty diaper or they are bloated/gassy. I’ve wasted way too much time watching videos and blogs about how to calm a fussy baby to not put this tip as #1. I even believed a moronic video of a guy shushing a baby straight into its ear while turning him sideways at one point. This is how desperate I was for a solution to calm my baby. I’m not saying these other things won’t work at all. Shushing and other tricks might work for some babies and in certain situations. But I’ve found the solution is usually the simplest one. And it’s right in front of you. Or in this case it’s right in front of your wife.
Babies eat every 2-3 hours and even more when they’re going through growth spurts. Common periods for growth spurts are during the first few days and around 1 week, 3 weeks, 6 weeks, and 3 months. When in doubt, offer your baby the breast or bottle and see if it solves things.
Be prepared and half the battle is already won
Being a new parent means doing a lot of things for the first time. Bathing a baby, changing a diaper, bottle feeding, etc. The first time doing any of these will be a chaotic mess. Maybe even a total disaster. That’s completely fine as long as you learn from it. And if you aren’t able to learn or are unwilling to, then no one can help you.
Having all your essentials within arms reach is crucial when carrying out the aforementioned baby tasks. For bathing this means laying out a towel and change of clothes for after you take your baby out of the warm water so he doesn’t freak out. And as a slight digression, I think bathing your newborn everyday is fine. We found that ours even developed a rash from errant spit up/breast milk when he wasn’t bathed everyday. Newborn skin peels in the first 1-2 weeks so don’t think that you’re drying out their skin with bathing too frequently. You can always put some body lotion on them after bathing. Our son really enjoys a good lotioning after a warm bath.
For diaper changing, make sure if you have 2-3 wet wipes fully laid out for when you remove his diaper. Fumbling with wet wipes with a crying baby and soiled diaper in front of you is unimaginably frustrating. Make sure you have tissues or a cloth to cover him up in case he decides to pee AFTER the diaper has been removed (this is way more common than you’d expect). And finally, lay out some paper towel underneath him and quickly remove his dirty diaper so you don’t run the risk of him stepping all over his freshly dirtied diaper.
Men don’t have breasts so we can’t really help with breastfeeding. But we can help with a daily pumped breastmilk feed or multiple times a day with formula bottle feeds. Any parent will tell you feeding can take some time. It can involve choking and spit ups. And even a baby that falls asleep midway forcing you to clusterfeed or splitfeed. Make sure you have some tissues and a towel within arms reach. Put a bib on your baby if time allows and he is not freaking out. And grab the TV remote or put your phone next to you so you aren’t bored out of your mind.
Buy lots of gadgets, you’ll be surprised which ones are useful
I’ll admit this was more the work of my wife than me, but she raided Amazon of all their highly rated baby products right before birth. And let me tell you, most of them are not gimmicks. I was very surprised about how useful the baby nasal aspirator was. Or how many times we reached for the SwaddleMe instead of the traditional swaddle because it was so much easier to put on. Most of these aren’t expensive purchases, and if they happen to work for you and your baby you’ll be so happy you bought them at the beginning instead of after weeks of frustration.
Takes tons of pictures and videos
Ending the post with this bit of advice is kind of lame. Is this really even advice?
You’ll be surprised how quickly your baby changes and how fast time flies. We were just looking at pictures of when our baby boy was less than 2 days old. He has already changed so much. Not just getting bigger in weight and length but his facial expressions and his movement. Although they are extremely stressful and tiring, you can never relive these newborn days with this particular baby again. Cherish them and document it as much as you can. I guarantee you’ll have lots of fun looking back through them later on.