My Parenting Advice for First-Time Dads
A year ago, just after the world halted from the COVID-19 pandemic, my wife and I welcomed a baby boy. Aside from the fact that our world as we knew it had changed significantly due to quarantine, precautions, and separation from our loved ones, we were both now brand new first-time parents. Our son's first year of life has been a whirlwind and while I do not pretend to be an expert, I certainly have learned a few valuable lessons along the way that I'd love to share with any other first-time dads out there. Here is my top advice from one first-time dad to another.
Are you all too familiar with those first-time parenting jitters, constantly nervous that you'll somehow mess things up or do the wrong thing? From diaper changes to bath time to feeding and dressing your babe, it can certainly become intimidating and overwhelm any first-time dad. My advice? RELAX. You’ve got this, and hey if you don’t - you’re partner certainly does! Parenting may be stressful, but the beautiful side of it is that your drive and concern to be a good parent is all that you really need to succeed. The fact that you care so much says it all, and the reality is that YOU are all that your baby really needs.
You can pay for expensive online courses and access to specialists, but the very best way to learn is to sit back and watch your baby's cues. It's natural to want a quick and easy solution, but in the long run, taking the time to watch your child and understand how they communicate will be worth it. Don’t be afraid to write things down, and pay attention to body language. Does your child tense in the presence of new people? Does loud music startle them or help calm them down? Simply spending time with them, watching and observing their unique preferences, can teach you all you need to know to help calm and soothe them when it’s time to do so.
It is amazing to think about how parents recorded memories in the past. Just think of your own childhood - do you have the VHS tapes saved? We are truly lucky to have quick access in our pocket, with smartphones that capture our child's first smile, first steps, and first words! It is incredible to browse my phone and witness before my eyes how much my son has changed and grown up in just one year. Don’t shy away from professional family photos. If you ever experience a fire… these are the first items that you will grab… trust me.
Life is full of obstacles, lessons, and achievements. I guarantee that these first few years with your child will be the most monumental. There is so much to take in and so many distractions that will come your way, but remember that this is what life is all about, and this is what you will look back on when your little one moves out and begins to make a life of their own.