Dear 100 Hour Board,
I know this question has been asked before, but with all the old writers returning (hopefully some of them are still around to answer the question) I thought I'd ask. I'm about to become a daddy for the first time. What are some things you wish you'd knew when you became a parent for the first time? From things to do, what not to do, what to buy and not to buy, it seems like I'm bombarded all the time, and yes this might be even more bombardment, but it seems more real coming from real people, than just online lists/reviews.
Dear David Ortiz,
While we were going through the pre-baby having classes that the nanny state suggested we take, we got a brochure about some sort of crying and no other information about it. I really wish someone had explained it to me, because I felt like a terrible father for SO LONG. One of the most frustrating things about young babies is that BABIES WILL CRY FOR HOURS WITHOUT STOPPING AND YOU WILL NEVER FIGURE OUT WHY. It is called "Purple Crying" and is not unusual. If it happens and your baby is otherwise healthy (that is, if you have taken the baby to the doctor already and nothing is wrong,) your baby is not hurting, it's not colic, and they will suddenly get over it one day. Don't worry about it, be patient and loving and wait for it to pass, no matter how long it takes.
The front page on the website has a little box that says "Often fathers would feel much better if they could just "fix" a problem. They are used to figuring things out and reading a manual and then they seem to be able to successfully fix the situation." That is so true. I wasn't able to soothe my baby or stop him from crying, and I thought that I had broken him. Nope, it turns out that it is a part of development that babies just go through, and there is nothing you can do about it.
That is the most frustrating part. Your nerves are frazzled, you are at your wits' end, you have a million things to do other than to hold this screaming baby that you can't fix, and there is nothing you can do about it. The only thing to do is hold your baby, love him, and do what you would normally do, but keep in mind an abundance of patience. Don't get frustrated, just find out your own ways to stay sane and loving.
I am not a parent yet, but I have a ton of friends who became first-time parents in the past year, and all of them swear by their video baby monitors because you can check on the kid without opening the door and potentially waking the kid up.
Dear el ~
There are no Right Police. It really took a long time (and I still struggle sometimes) to realize that if I don't do it "right" it's okay. Go with your gut and do what feels right, even if it's not "right." Does your baby eat more than every 3-4 hours? It's okay. Do you feed your baby right before sleep? Or instead right after they wake up? It's okay. Do you do something differently than your neighbor? It's okay. So long as you're being a responsible parent and have no reason for CFS to be called on you, then it's okay. Pretty much any parenting method you use, some other one is going to tell you you're doing it wrong. And honestly, you'll probably naturally take things from lots of different methods, so everyone will think you're doing something wrong. And that is okay. So long as you and your wife feel good about what you're doing, it's okay. Just trust your instincts and let yourself feel at peace.
~ Dragon Lady
Dear el papi,
If you have a sense of humor, I think of all the infographics about parenting and what not to do, such as this collection of images. They are all true.
Dear new dad,
I can't take credit for it, but I received some great advice shortly before my son was born which has definitely stuck with me. It's really quite simple. Are you ready for it?
Enjoy the now.
It's quite easy to look forward to the time when your child will sleep through the night, or hold their head up, or start to crawl, or eat solid foods, or learn to walk or or any other milestone. While obviously it's fun to watch them learn new things, if we are constantly looking ahead, we will miss the small beautiful moments that make being a dad awesome.
Good luck (and congrats)!
Dear el papi,
Life is too short to let other people condescendingly tell you how to parent. If they try, tell them to [edited for content].
Dear New Papa,
Sing to your child, ideally Primary songs.
Enjoy the moments.
Use your priesthood.
Tell your little one "I love you" even when you don't think they will understand you.
Tell you wife "I love you"... more than you think should be necessary.
Read to your child.
Don't freak out about every germ and bug and bump and sneeze, etc. Your child is not made of porcelain.
Be willing to give up hobbies and other things that will take you out of the house unnecessarily. It's not a time for selfishness.
Pray. A lot. Together with your wife.
Accept the fact that you will probably seem or feel like a bad parent multiple times in the next two decades. Get over it.
That said, it is your kid. Nothing we can tell you can really prepare you. You'll figure it out.
That is all.
Dear Future Papa,
Here's a tip: don't stress about what you need/don't need/"OH-MY-GOSH-WHAT-IF"-type stuff. As long as you have some clothes and diapers to put the tyke in and some blankets you'll probably be fine. And here's why: there is probably a Wal-mart or other similar kind of store within a short drive of your home. This store is probably open late, if not 24 hours a day. If you *need* something, you can go buy it when you need it, so don't stress about having everything you might, possibly, "but what if..." need ahead of time.
This philosophy will likely save you some money, too.
- Beemer Boy
P.S. While they might be nice to have, a fancy bassinet/crib and changing table are luxuries, not necessities. My wife spent the first few months of her life sleeping in a pulled-out dresser drawer with blankets inside it and turned out better than just fine. So realize that much of what you buy is for you guys, not the baby.
I wish I had known that not all diapers were going to be meconium. That was terrifying.
This advice may be more applicable to a stay-at-home parent, but I think it's probably valid for everyone: get out of the house with your baby. Staying inside for hours and hours will most likely drive you insane. So go to the grocery store, walk around your neighborhood, visit a friend or family member, or anything else that requires that you to leave your home. It helps keep the day from dragging on and helps you and your baby experience new things together.
Also, learn to laugh about the annoying, frustrating, ridiculous, destructive, and [insert other negative adjectives here] things that your kids do. Laughter is a much better response than yelling, screaming, or having some other kind of outburst.
Oh, and I answered a question about things that you really don't need for baby, if you're interested: Board Question #76288.