New Dad Tip #27 – Learn to swaddle

If you aren’t familiar with the calming influence of swaddling, please review one of the many how-to videos online or ask family or friends how it’s done. I was thankful enough to learn during a get together with some other new dads from my Church and it changed so much of my early experience.

It’s essential for many babies during the first few months, because it simulates the environment of the womb and it’s a tremendous help for many new parents.

Dad Tip #26 Do exercises to strengthen your back and hip flexors

Image of weights
Strong Dad!

Lifting things is an absolute certainly in Dad life. Whether you are picking up the car seat, reaching down to grab dropped items or holding baby in one arm, strengthening your back and hips will provide you with critical support for these everyday activities and reduce back pain. If you can’t make the gym, consider resistance bands, dumbbells or doing at home exercises like side planks. Consult a doctor, trainer or medical professional before trying new workout routines.

Dad Tip 25 – Teach your baby sign language

Blog graphic with text that reads "Teach Your Baby Sign Language"
Build skills, reduce fussiness and avoid frustration.

Teaching your baby sign language often reduces fussiness because there is a way to communicate their specific needs instead of just crying and hoping you figure out what’s wrong. There are numerous books and how-to videos online that teach you basic baby sign language phrases (milk, more, etc). It’s really cool when your child actually learns and uses them.

Dad tip 24 – When you buy a stroller, practice opening and closing it at least three times

Picture of a stroller

Strollers seem simple to open and close until you’re hauling groceries, boarding a plane, or in a hurry. When things are chaotic, it’s not always easy to identify the latch that activates the locking mechanism if you haven’t practiced. Open and close the stroller when you first get it to avoid the judgement of going out in public and being the dad who can’t close a stroller.

Dad Tip #23 – Put things back where you found them

New parents spend countless hours looking for keys, toys and other items that have been moved throughout the house. Consider taking a little time to purchase and install a key holder right by your door and to find an exact place where you always put your wallet and other critical personal items. When you’re short on time, there’s nothing more frustrating than a delay because you’ve lost track of something you can’t leave the house without.

Photo by Becca Stanghelle on Reshot

Dad Tip #22 Make sure all stuffed animals are not male

Picture of a stuffed animal bear
Is this Mr. or Ms. Bear? Does it matter?

My wife noticed that I had a habit of calling my daughter’s stuffed animals names like Mr. Bear, Mr. Bunny or Mr. Lamb, even though these animals weren’t specifically male. It was almost like I was expecting an animal to have have a particular color or “look” before I considered it to be female. Try to be aware of how you refer to your child’s toys so they can be accustomed to having friends from all walks of life.

Dad Tip #21 – Go to library story time

Story time is almost often the most peaceful time of my week. You sit there with your kid bouncing on your knee while everyone sings wheels on the bus, the itsy bitsy spider, and the librarian reads a few books aloud. It’s a great way to get your child out of the house and it’s for me, it’s oddly relaxing. From my experience, the kids are smiling, fully engaged and the babies rarely seem to cry or fuss. At the conclusion of story time, they usually bring out a box of toys. The good libraries clean and wipe down the baby toys, but I still recommend using a baby wipe to wipe down your child’s hands before and after each session. Keep an eye out for the monthly event calendar as many of the libraries have family programming or story hour sessions during flexible times, including after work.

Father and daughter at the library during story time.
Learn, play and have fun during story time

Dad Tip #20 Keep an eye out for family restrooms

Image of bathroom signs

Family restrooms are generally ubiquitous in libraries, airports and many public spaces, but they can be hard to spot if you’ve spent your life ignoring them. Going into a family restroom allows you privacy and quiet while you change your baby at your own pace. Remember, even though it says family restroom, you can still enter if it’s just you and the child. The reason this is important is that since men’s restrooms often have changing pads, you might never think about using the family restroom. Family restrooms generally are less noisy and let’s just say… they have a more pleasant smell than a large public restroom. Additionally, family restrooms often have a seat that you can strap your toddler into if you really need to go yourself and have no other option.

Unconscious Bias Check: Look at the image above. Do you notice something off about the sign with the changing pad? Do you notice that it is showing the image of (only) a mother changing the child. I’ve changed my daughter dozens of times when I am outside of the house and I felt a major anxiety about it because it just seems like something men normally don’t do.

While this tip might seem obvious, I want you to think about it. If you are alone with your child and they need to be changed, which sign would you choose? With so much going on, how quickly would you process that the picture of a woman in a skirt changing her child is also a place that you can go to. While many family restroom signs feature a man, woman a child, sometimes you have to fight through those moments where the world simply forgets that you’re capable. I hope you remember this tip and that you have a great traveling experience with your child.
– Guy

GuyDidAsk Tip #19 Consider creating a 529 Plan for your kids.

Students throwing cap and gown into the air.

529 plans help pay for qualified educational expenses and can be set up by anyone on behalf of a designated beneficiary. Many parents choose to contribute small amounts from birth as a part of overall education planning. The contributions are tax-deductible on state returns (in 34 states) and many states feature no holding period. This means that if you have an older child who is ready to start college, you can add money to the plan, use those funds to pay for university, and still receive your state tax deduction in the same year (it’s called the 529 tax deduction loophole).

Most 529 Plans have links that allow friends and family members to contribute directly to a plan, or contribute on behalf of your child. The new tax laws also allows you to use a 529 plan to pay for private, or parochial school tuition. Some Grandparents even use 529 plans as a part of estate planning to reduce their tax liability. If you time it well, your small contributions can have a large impact.

(Before you make major financial decisions, please check with a qualified accountant or financial advisor).

Tip #18 – If you’re going somewhere, plan for one hour before you leave the house

Time goes by quickly with a new baby in the house.

When the family is preparing to head out and you are scrambling to grab the right toys, put the baby in the car seat/stroller, find the blanket, wipe up the unexpected spit up, it’s easy to lose track of time. In order to arrive at your destination at a reasonable time, plan for an hour of prep time before you leave.