Advice to the New Father

Josh Misner, Ph.D. Communication Instructor North Idaho College (208) 769-7872

1. Find a soothing, memorable song for you and your baby.  Make it yours.  Dance with your baby to this song every night.  Sing it, whether you sing well or not.  Someday, this one song will be your special way of putting your child to sleep without even having to try.
2. Nickname your newborn, repeatedly and often.  Eventually, one will stick and it will be your special, secret code.
3. Don't be afraid to touch your little one.  Babies are fragile, but they need your loving touch as much as mom's.  Kiss their foreheads, those puffy cheeks, and of course, their lips.  Put your noses up to their hair and take in that wonderful new baby smell (preferably with a clean diaper on).
4. Take every opportunity to rock your baby to sleep.  As time goes by, you will find a "nook" in your elbow where they fit just right.
5. Every so often, while they sleep, take time to listen to them breathe.  Place an ear up to their chest or near their face, and just listen.  It is undeniably one of the most beautiful sounds in the world.
6. You can never check on them too often in the middle of the night.  You may very well do this up until the teenage years.  That's okay - it comes with the territory.
7. Babies usually cry for one of three reasons: Hunger, Discomfort (usually the diaper, a fever, or gas pain), and the need to be held and loved.  Respond to these cries by going down this checklist.  The last thing you want to do is ignore the cries.  Ignoring the cries of a baby before the age of 12 months can actually instill a sense of distrust later in life.
8. Sometimes, crying may very well continue on and on and ON, and you won't know why.  Don't take it personally - your baby loves you unconditionally at this point.  Respond with loving care and if necessary, see a doctor.  If you have a colicky baby, rice packs heated in the microwave and applied to the tummy, warm baths, and rocking/singing are lifesavers (see #1 above).
9. Raising a new baby is a tag team sport.  Don't ever expect mom to handle it all.  Other than breastfeeding, you are fully capable of everything she is, but don't interrupt her instincts.  She may need bonding more than you do, but you can and should pinch hit at any time, and any time usually means it is most needed in the middle of the night.
10. When your babies are awake, stare deeply into their eyes and simply feel the rush of indescribable love.  Savor it for as long as possible.
Josh Misner, Ph.D. Communication Instructor North Idaho College (208) 769-7872

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