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There are plenty of newborn hacks that are focused on mothers, but we don’t see very many baby tips and tricks information that is centered around dads.
Today we have Matt Marshall, father of two giving us some insight on different baby hacks for dads. Keep in mind, these are not gender-exclusive by any means. These are just tips he has gathered with his experience as a father.
NEWBORN HACKS FOR DAD
The role of being a father can take a lot of shapes, and it won’t always be easy for dad to know how best to support mommy and baby, particularly if this is your first.
A new life, new expectations, and a new set of rules and requirements certainly aren’t the least of it, but being a dad has its own special significance in our stories and our culture.
There’s a reason.
Our role in society is seen as different than the women in our lives. It shouldn’t be this way–remember, you are just as responsible as your partner for how your child grows up.
My hope is that we (dads) can take a more active role in our family’s life–starting with the newborn stage.
It’s not easy. It is hard to feel like you are doing it right, and impossible to do perfectly. Despite that, fatherhood will change the very essence of you forever (good things though, I promise!)
Whether you are a single dad shopping for advice, a married supporting parent, or a mommy taking some time to consider your significant other’s role in this new dynamic you’ve birthed, hopefully, you’ll find the following advice useful.
Take your parenting efforts down an easier street by following the footsteps of those who walked before.
There are affiliate links in this article, which means I will get a small commission if you purchase any of these items through the link I provide (at no additional cost to you). You can read more about this in my disclaimer.
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR CHANGING DIAPERS
These four newborn hacks will make diaper time much easier and a lot less stinky. If you’re looking to carry any weight at all, dad, accept the fact that you cannot escape the butt change.
The double diaper trick (Double bag the butt)
In all the media I’ve seen, be it movies or instructional videos, dad or mom pops the velcro tabs, strips the old diaper away, swipes with a baby wipe, and slips the new diaper in beneath the fresh, clean bum.
Snap the old hook and loop, move on with the process of cuddling and loving your significantly less stinky munchkin.
I’m here to tell you, this is folly. Unless you hate your carpet, love cleaning up pee (or meconium!), or have a baby whose self-control and mutual respect come decades before their time, you do not want a bare butt hanging free while you fetch a fresh nappy.
This lady here knows what she’s doing.
Place the new diaper underneath the baby before you undo the old one. The old diaper provides a shield to keep the new one clean while you wipe, and if your little bundle of fluids gets a little too relaxed while you’re working, the mess is already solved for. You can then slip the old diaper away and snap the new one in place with no muss and no fuss.
The Ziplock challenge
Few things smell as bad as what can come from your baby’s ejection ports. This is probably a no-brainer. And yet, sometimes there simply isn’t time to take the garbage out.
It can even become a point of contention if “the garbage” is someone else’s job, and that person seems nose blind to the worst of things.
Roll the diaper up and zip into a plastic sandwich bag. Whether you are out and about, toting that very fashionable diaper bag your wife simply couldn’t have in any color but pink, or changing marathon diapers all night while she enjoys a much needed night off, whip out the sandwich bags. Your average diaper will fit snugly inside, and you can simply zip your worries (or olfactory horrors) away.
A Diaper Genie is a fair alternative, but they can be expensive, particularly given that they take proprietary bags. Ziplock bags are inexpensive and convenient.
Keep everything you need everywhere all the time (Arm yourself!)
There will be some days where you feel like you open a new pack of wipes daily. Sometimes there will be times where you DO open a new pack of wipes every day.
And nothing is quite so awful as dangling your poopy baby by his or her shoulder pits, trying your best not to squeeze it around while you try in vain to find a diaper or wipes.
Strategically place a pack of wipes and a few diapers in every room with usable space for changing a bum. The wife can get creative here if you don’t want to house to look like a Babies R’ Us exploded and secret these little caches in niches and decorative hiding spots.
How to keep your hands from smelling like diaper cream
Even thinking of the smell of diaper cream gives me shivers. The stuff sticks like glue in the small cracks and prints on your fingers and will linger if left to its own devices.
Scrub your hands with a baby wipe as soon as you are finished changing baby’s bum. With enough scrubbing, you can usually get all but the most tenacious of creams out of your nooks. If you jump straight to soap and water, you’ll be at it for a long time.
For the particularly nasty job, use a dish brush and hand or dish soap to scrub it all out.
Better than all of these things is the use of a better smelling and all natural balm like this diaper cream. This stuff smells awesome and helps to treat the actual symptoms of diaper rash.
It might not create as much of a barrier, but regular use of this stuff will help prevent a barrier from being necessary to begin with by keeping baby’s butt hydrated and healthy.
Related: How to Bathe a Baby
TIPS AND TRICKS FOR FEEDING BABY
Even if your wife is breastfeeding, you can (and should!) still take an active role in feeding your baby. Here are some feeding newborn hacks for daddy to help you on the way.
Have the right amount of milk ready when you need it
If your wife is breastfeeding, it’s likely that there will be times that she can’t be attached to your baby. In these cases, she may be pumping milk and you may need to be the one to get baby fed.
Breast milk is typically stored in the freezer until it is ready for use. This is not very convenient for you, because thawing milk takes FOREVER. I quickly learned that it was better to prepare for these situations, so definitely try and thaw the milk a couple of hours before you need it.
…P.S. Don’t waste your money on a bottle warmer. It’s just that–a waste of money.
According to Kelly Mom, thawed breast milk should be used within 24 hours, so don’t jump the gun too soon. Also, if you know that you will be giving a bottle in the next couple of days, have your wife throw her freshly pumped milk in the fridge since it’s good for up to five days (ideally 3).
Cold milk is easier to deal with then than frozen milk.
Give her a break
Give your partner breaks. Even if she’s a SAHM, offer to take turns feeding the baby.
Breastfeeding is one of the hardest things she will do with a new baby. It hurts, it’s time-consuming, and it’s hard to get the hang of. Offer as much support as possible, and give the baby a bottle now and again.
Also, it’s kind of a bonding thing. Bonding with your baby is pretty important.
Have a bottle clean always–and here’s why
With my second daughter, we had to use formula after the first six months. My wife didn’t want to stop breastfeeding, but her body had other plans and..it is what it is.
While bottle-feeding a baby, you will go through a ridiculous amount of bottles. We were washing at least 6 or 7 bottles daily by the time our baby was exclusively bottle fed.
I know that cleaning bottles are my wife’s least favorite chore, and I can understand why. It sort of feels like these dirty milk bottles are taking over your life. It doesn’t matter how many you clean–there is ALWAYS more.
Not to mention the fact that they tend to mysteriously disappear. We have misplaced around five bottles (it could be more) and I still don’t think they have seen the light of day. I shiver to imagine what it will be like once they inevitably turn up.
Anyway, back to clean bottles.
There is nothing worse than not having a clean bottle when you have a fussy and starving baby. When you make a bottle, take note of how many more clean you have on hand, and always keep one clean and ready to use.
I know this seems like it should be a no-brainer, but you are kind of lacking in the common sense department when you are sleep deprived and trying to take care of a tiny human.
TIPS AND TRICKS TO HELP YOUR BABY SLEEP
There are plenty of newborn hacks related to how to get your baby to sleep. Unfortunately, you will probably find that the majority of these won’t work for you. Trial and error have led me to my very best three tips (I hope at least ONE works for you!!!)
Count to 500
This is by far my favorite trick to use with newborns. If your wife is breastfeeding, she kinda has the luxury of lulling baby into a deep sleep while feeding baby.
No, this isn’t necessarily the best way to get your baby to sleep–but yes, we all do it sometimes.
Men don’t have magical anatomy that allows them to lull innocent beings into sleep. It’s a lot trickier for us.
It can be tough to get baby to sleep without some kind of sleep association between the two of you, so I will clue you in on how I managed to get our littles to sleep successfully.
Related: Baby Sleep Tips and Tricks
I usually started walking slowly and rocking the baby. Once she seemed like she had dropped off to sleep, I continued to rock her and began counting.
I counted to 500 in my head, and then I set her down in her crib. I don’t know why 500 is the magic number, but it’s the number I used that resulted in her staying asleep.
Keep in mind, this is NOT something you should be doing to get your baby to sleep every time. The experts recommend putting your baby down partially awake so that they can learn to fall asleep on their own.
In real life, sometimes you just need to do what you need to do, which can mean getting baby to sleep any way that you can.
Recognize the signs
I will admit, it’s difficult at first to recognize the signs of when it’s time to put your littles down for a nap. It would be a lot more convenient if they could clue us in with human speech, but that’s still a couple of years down the road.
Once I started paying attention, I noticed that our baby was actually giving us pretty clear signals of when she needed to go down for a nap. Some of these signs include:
- difficulty focusing
- Rubbing eyes and ears
- The closing of the fists
An overtired baby is going to be a lot more difficult to get to sleep. Think about it like this. Baby is tired and confused. They don’t really understand why they feel the way they do, but they know they are miserable.
The moment you see your baby exhibiting some of these signs, it’s time to start the nap or bedtime routine.
Get a projector/white noise machine
Our first baby was a great sleeper. The second did okay, but she definitely had a little more trouble. She didn’t like being rocked to sleep, so out of desperation we would plop her in her crib and leave her to her own devices.
This worked terribly the first couple of weeks.
Neither of us would listen to her cry, so instead we spent hours trying to reason (it was more like pleading) with her about why sleep was kind of a big deal.
Personally, I was surprised the projector worked. In my head, I didn’t really see the difference between this night light contraption and the TV–and we ALL know that the artificial blue light from the TV is not good for ANYONE.
Nonetheless..this combination really did the trick. We played some gentle rain sounds, and that in combination with her “under the sea” projector helped her soothe herself to sleep. She would lay there quietly watching the projector until we saw her eyes slowly close.
No tears, no drama, no problems. If you can’t keep your house quiet as the dead when baby goes to sleep, you need to consider picking something up.
LIFE HACKS FOR NEW PARENTS
Most baby tips are centered around what baby does best–eat, sleep, and poop. I have found that there are some great newborn hacks that don’t quite fit in one of those three categories..
Keep track of important phone numbers
Make sure you program all important numbers into your phone, so you don’t have to hunt around when it’s your turn to call the doctor. Have the number to poison control, the pediatrician, and whoever your backup daycare is in case of an emergency.
Start a bank account for your baby
Some banks offer an incentive for opening up a bank account for a child, so definitely look around for something like this. Our bank deposited fifty dollars into each of our girls accounts, and they also yield a higher interest dividend up to a certain amount.
Your baby will be an adult before you know it, so it’s a good idea to start saving for that college education now.
Start an email account for your baby
Starting an email account for your baby is beneficial for a couple of reasons. First, it ensures that their name @ the email provider you choose will still be available. The longer you wait, the more babies are born, the fewer email options they will have.
In addition to this, you can use this email account as a sort of “memoir” of your baby’s life. At work and missing them? Write them a short email. Went through a traumatic diaper change? Vent to their “future self”, but keep the visuals to a minimum.
If they prefer to use a different provider when they grow up–no harm done. You are giving them options. Options and memories.
Stop trying to be perfect.
I know you have heard this before, but I am going to tell you again and I hope you take this to heart.
We all mess up with our children. We are human, and frankly, we can’t help it.
I am a quiet peaceful guy by nature. I love my children, but I experience feelings of frustration with them that I don’t experience from other aspects of my life. Know that it’s perfectly okay to be frustrated and make mistakes.
The fact that you worry about this at all means you are probably doing a good job.
With that said, it IS important to know when to step away. When you experience a newborn baby screaming for 6 hours (and you probably will at least once) you will understand what I mean.
Have the courage to put your baby down and leave the room so you can take a couple of deep breaths and collect yourself. Parenting is hard, and we are all just trying to figure it out.
What was YOUR favorite newborn hack? Is there any specific baby tip or trick you think I’m missing from the list? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!
Related: The Best Newborn Baby Hacks