New Daddy Tips: The no-B.S. real deal from a survivor

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Joined: 02/12/2009

Congrats, Daddy!! A few good tips and resources... (as if you haven't heard enough outside tips already, sheesh!)

First and foremost, flexibility is essential to survival. Particularly regarding planning the birth process, don't become adamant about sticking to a plan. Your plan WILL change, and possibly be tossed out completely. The less attached you are to your preconceptions, the less you will be disappointed.

I can't stress that enough! If you only take away one tip from this, it's this: If you make up your mind ahead of time about most kid-related decisions, you'll be sorry!

When it comes to caring for your newborn, it's all about trial-and-error. Every kid is different, and they advance so fast that yesterday's preference might be tomorrow's pet peeve. But here are a few ideas that worked for us...

The best books I've found with the rare Daddy-centric view (there's plenty of others that cover the basics or are written just for moms):

Big one: let's talk money. Admit it, it's high on your list of worries. College tuition is huge but that nightmare is a long way off. But right now you've got more immediate money issues to handle.

One issue to plan ahead for is the hit on your family income(s). If you were previously a two-income household, count on being down one income for at least a few months. Particularly if either of the parents are self-employed. Mom is out of the income-generating game for the last month or two of the pregnancy and the first few months with baby. After the bambino is a few months old, even if Mom is physically able to work, she might not be ready mentally to leave the critter behind. Mommy Guilt is powerful. And even the toughest bread-winning Dad will be off his game at work during the early months from lack of sleep.

Plan ahead for health insurance. (It's best to get Mom on a good plan before she gets pregnant to handle lots and lots and lots of office visits, but I'm guessing you're reading this after the deed is done.) Does your current health insurance plan cover the newborn?

We learned that our insurance company covered the wee one for 30 days under Mom's plan. An essential grace period before we had to figure out his own plan. But then we faced a choice. Add him to Mom's plan and we'd pay retroactively for those first 30 days, OR start fresh with a new plan which requires a lengthy application process.


Now for the stuff. And by stuff I mean things. That kid is tiny, but dang, the accessories will take up your whole home.

Best pacifer, at chain drug stores or Target:
Nuk Newborn Pacifier Orthodontic (size 1, 0-6 months) by Gerber. The outer disc is concave and the inner nipply-thing is angled so it stays in place better. Buy a bunch because they get worn out and lost.

Best soothing music: Reggae or Downtempo.

There are lots of soothing devices too, which have wildly varying degrees of effectiveness with every baby... swings, vibro-chairs, soothing white noise boxes, even an attachment which makes the crib vibrate. Your mileage will definitely vary and these are pricey so hand-me-downs are key.

How to swaddle:

re baby clothing: anything that has to go over baby's head is a pain. Also a drag: buttons and snaps. Stick with a dozen zip-up jumpsuits. You'll need to get in there regularly to change the ol' diaper and speed is critical.

Another good Daddy accessory: earplugs! When it's your turn to calm a screamer up-close, you'll be amazed at the decibels. And when it's not your turn, why should both of you suffer? Don't say I didn't warn ya.

An important note on breastfeeding. Mommy might have a really hard time with it. It's tempting to bail, but get her to stick with it because it's sooooo good for the kid. A few good resources to help with complications:

In the San Francisco area,

Most of the stuff we read talked about either breastmilk OR bottle/formula (re pros/cons, strategies). But there is another situation, if Mom sometimes pumps milk into a bottle. That's a less-often mentioned third category, with the health benefits of breastfeeding plus the logistical benefits of the bottle. Just a heads up.

When you need to supplement with formula, they all seemed similarly healthy. But one brand mixes better: Enfamil. The other brands we tried tended to clump up.

And a good blog for San Francisco parents, although not as useful for the first few housebound months:

Finally... Some of the tips you'll hear will be contradictory... many are best filed away "just in case" since every baby's different...!! But the best part about advice is that someone cared enough to try to help, even if it's the stupidest advice ever!

p.s. Sleep? What's that?!?!?!?