Ten Suggestions for New Dads

Last Editorial Review: 6/29/2005

Soon to be a father? Here are a few tips from some real experts: other dads.

By Gordy Slack
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Craig H. Kliger, MD

  1. When the going gets tough, take a break. There will be moments when the world conspires to make you mad: when you haven't slept, the baby is crying, the phone is ringing, the milk is boiling over, and your partner is cranky. Turn off the stove, go outside, and take as many deep breaths as you need before re-entering the fray.
  2. Make time with your family a priority. When you look back on your life years from now, you won't regret not having worked longer hours. What you might regret is not having spent more time with your kids. Time spent playing on the floor or watching your baby sleep is time well spent. Enjoy this great excuse to hang around and "do nothing."
  3. Play a lot. Nothing is better than fun for dissipating tension and for forging trust and good relationships with babies.
  4. Take advantage of your baby's portability. Don't be afraid to take your baby out with you. Stimulation is good for kids, and babies make great adventure companions. Besides, you'll get lots of attention, too.
  5. Be extra patient, supportive, and communicative with your partner. Giving birth can be traumatic, and hormones continue to ebb and flow after childbirth. If there is ever a time to be understanding of your baby's mom, and available to her, too, this is it.
  6. Try not to schedule too many things in one day. Everything takes longer with a baby involved.
  7. If you have a medical question about your baby, call your pediatrician, but don't panic. Babies are sturdier than they look.
  8. Talk to other new fathers about your experience and theirs. Mothers' groups abound, and women love them. You don't need to call it a men's group, and you don't have to hug. Call it your "guys' night out."
  9. Take care of yourself. Keep an eye on your driving, your diet, and your risk-taking. Your baby needs you for a long time. Being a healthy and happy dad is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your kids.
  10. Follow your instincts and intuition. Listen to the advice of others, read about parenting, consult the experts, but consider yourself the authority on your child. No one will know your baby as well as you and your partner do.

Gordy Slack is a science and health writer based in Oakland, Calif. He is a columnist and contributing editor at California Wild, the science and natural history magazine published by the California Academy of Sciences. He is also the "veteran" father of two young boys.

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