The mom blogs talk about getting scratched and clawed by your baby during feeding. However, if you’re a dad, you may not actually think about the number of times that your baby will scratch your face and neck when you’re holding them.
You have spent your life hearing things like “take it like a man”, or getting bumped and bruised and letting it heal on its own. Well if I could go back to myself as a new dad and make sure I put skin care treatment, or topical ointment on those cuts, I would do it immediately. No matter how often you clip your babies nails, she can still find a way to scratch you. I was scratched by my daughter hundreds and hundreds of times (I used to wear a lot of V-Neck T-shirts while holding her, which was not only a fashion mistake, but a physical mistake that led to several scratches on my neck.) While those cuts healed, you can see the remnants of those marks on my skin because I did not address it and it truly annoys me.
As soon as I addressed the newer cuts with a mix of Neosporin and vitamin E cream, the marks did not stay and my skin healed properly. However, the older cuts have led to a minor discoloration on one spot on my neck, which is not very noticeable, but to be perfectly honest, it’s very annoying to me. This blog is not only about strategies that were successful, but also strategies that came from my mistakes. Take the few seconds to address the multitude of cuts you are likely to get while holding your child and you’ll be golden.
Do you say the word “no” and then pick up your child, give them their favorite toy to distract them? Do you say “no” and then move them to their play area? You might not realize that you are unintentionally giving them rewards and attention for their problem behavior. When they are exhibiting bad habits, try picking them up and taking them to an area with no toys using slow, deliberate steps (so it doesn’t seem like a “fun” game,) or try saying “no” and then sitting with them for a few seconds in silence.
Think about this…
If your child grabs an object, such as your phone and screams when you take it away and your next step is to immediately give it back… what is that telling the child? That is telling them that SCREAM-ING will ensure they get what they want. Praise them for exhibiting positive behavior with words like “You let daddy change you so fast!” Or “You turned the page on the book!” Make sure to smile so the baby can recognize your body language.
Diapers and wipes run out, toys and snacks get moved from place to place. It’s important to refill the diaper bag to ensure you have everything you need before you leave the house. Make sure to also include a backup outfit for baby in case of spills.
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.
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.
If you find yourself saying “I’m just picking up something off the floor,” or “It’s OK, he doesn’t know how to roll,” or “I have her strapped in the car seat, I’ll just put her over here while I wash my hands”, please keep in mind that babies are constantly learning and making new movements. If you need to put the baby down, make sure it’s safely in a crib, pack & play, or on a low, steady and flat surface.
Oh they didn’t tell you that your newborn daughter would have a bloody diaper during the first week of her life when she has a mini period? Don’t freak out. All parents have questions and experience new unforeseen challenges. If you experience something new, reach out to family and friends with kids who can answer your questions.
This is an important lesson. No one cares about your lack or sleep, so MAN UP! With that being said, you are still human and there may be an occasion where you just need to recharge. It’s better to tell your partner when you’re close to feeling beat, than to hold it in and reach a breaking point. Sleep-deprived conversations can lead to anger, and snapping at each other, when all you need is a little time in bed. Tell her in advance when you’re feeling sleepy. Together, you can work out cues when you need to take a nap, or need to go to bed early. Before hitting the sack, she’ll probably give you a few small tasks like replacing the diaper genie, taking out the recycling, or watching the baby for a few minutes while she goes to the bathroom. Once you’ve given her some time, there’s a good chance you’ll get a chunk of time to yourself. Just make sure you’re ready to take over when she hits the wall.
New moms are often stuck in place while nursing and rarely have a free hand to hold a glass. If your baby has had a restless night, your wife might have gone hours without replenishing her own fluids. Hand her a glass of water and remind her that it’s essential to her health to keep hydrated.
A buddy of mine said that his wife literally reacted more enthusiastically when he brought her a cup of water while breastfeeding, than when he gave her a pair of earrings while they were dating. While you’re at it, drink some water yourself.
Take a moment to think of the times when you were happiest, and most relaxed after accomplishing your goals. Perhaps you met all of your deadlines at work, and the house is completely clean, and you just finished washing your car. You are free because you now have absolutely nothing that you “need” to do. But as a new dad, there is almost always something you “need” to do. While you are washing the dishes, you stop to help your wife find a burp cloth. If you’re cleaning bottles, you might stop to hear if the baby is crying. As a new dad, three simple tasks might take as long as it once took to complete five or six chores. We may feel like the baby is “taking over” and that we can’t get “anything done.” But we need to accept that the baby is an ongoing task magnet. And we’re setting ourselves up for failure by trying to accomplish too much at once.
It’s better to work on only one or two things, and feel relieved when you’re done. Then work on one or two more. Taking on multiple tasks will stress you out. Your mind will begin to associate any task with stress and frustration, and your body language will reflect negatively the next time your partner asks you to help with even simple chores around the house. Next time you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed, politely say that you want to be attentive and that you are happy to help out with everything you can, but you work best if you can only do a few tasks at a time.