You are about to become a dad for the first time. Congratulations! There is nothing quite like the bond between father and baby. However, if the thought of raising your child sends you into a slight panic attack, here are 10 tips to help you go from a rookie to a pro in no time:
1. Give your baby a bottle (at least) once a day
Whether your wife is breast feeding or not, you can still get in on the daily feedings. Your wife will likely be happy to let you help out, and the bonding that takes place will be priceless. If you want to be super-dad (and make your wife incredibly happy), offer to take over one of the nighttime feedings.
2. Be ready and willing to change baby's diapers
My sweet husband had never changed a diaper before our son was born. He became initiated very quickly and now is quicker at changing a diaper than I am. If you need added motivation, try playing a fun little game: whoever smells it first gets to take care of it.
3. Make a play date with baby
You can implement this at any point in your child's life, but starting young is a great idea. Schedule a time once a month (or week) to take your child out, just the two of you. Whether it's just to run to the grocery store, or to your favorite arcade, your child will grow to love and cherish these outings.
4. Take advantage of the recliner in your baby's nursery
(and if you don't have one, use the couch.) I have a handful of pictures of my husband and our new babies asleep in their daddy's arms. They are some of my favorites. Not only does it provide an awesome nap for baby, you'll be able to catch up on some zzz's too.
5. Be flexible
Bringing a baby home is a new experience for all of you. If the football game is going on right when baby needs a bath, turn it off for a few minutes to help out.
6. Learn how to wrap your baby up like a burrito
It's a fun and practical way to help out with baby's bedtime routine. Need some tips? This step-by-step tutorial on The Coterie Blog is my favorite.
7. Make family time a priority
When you are home from work, be home. Try your very best to leave work-related business at work. If quality family time seems few and far between, take some time to schedule it in with your spouse. Just like budgeting money, your time needs to be managed very carefully as well.
Children have an uncanny ability to pick up on parental stress. If you're having a particularly trying day (or moment) take a few deep breaths and step outside to regroup.
9. Love the baby (and your spouse) with all you have
You may not think it's possible, but your capacity to love will increase the moment you meet your child. Make sure that love is apparent in all that you do.
10. Have fun!
Has it been awhile since you've been to the gym? Not to worry, babies make great weights. The older they get, the more fun they will have with you. My kids absolutely light up when their daddy gets home from work and wrestles with them until they are tired to the bone.
As you enter fatherhood, keep in mind that so many have been where you are right now. Don't be afraid to ask those you love for advice and help. Above all, enjoy the journey and try to soak every moment in. As I'm sure you've heard many times, they really do grow up in the blink of an eye.