When you see a baby born on television or your friends talk about the miracle of birth none of them mention some of the most basic thing you should learn before welcoming your bundle of joy in to the world.  Well my wife and I found out the hard way how unprepared we were from day 1…actually day 2 since the nurses did everything that first day.  Seriously enjoy that first day in the hospital because it is the last break you will ever get!

Let’s get a rundown of things we didn’t know how to do when we were left to care for another life.  We were told to swaddle the baby – didn’t know what it was let a lone how to do it.  Why not change that diaper…well never have before so why not get started with my fragile newborn son.  How about feeding him…ummm well I don’t have breasts and the nipple on that bottle looks way too big!  Burp him?  Good Lord woman how hard to you pound on my baby’s back!  Let’s go over some of these learning points in a bit more depth shall we?

Swaddling a baby

You ever see a baby wrapped up like a peanut?  All bundled up with only their head poking out?  Well apparently a baby is much stronger than you think and they have Houdini like abilities so you need to wrap them up tight.  Another reason is because newborns aren’t used to having so much space so if they aren’t wrapped up tightly they will wake themselves up flailing around.  And yet another reason is because baby fingernails are like little razor blades and if those hands get loose they will cut themselves – this is why baby clothes comes with built in mittens.   Get yourself a swaddling blanket and a newborn doll.  Practice with the instructions included with the blanket.  It won’t be the same, but you can at least get the motion down and won’t feel like a complete idiot with the nurse looking at you.

Changing a diaper

This was a fun experience I tried to avoid for as long as possible.  The first couple of days your newborn is in the world they will produce a black sludge called meconium.  My buddy had warned me about this, but nothing prepares you for the horror.  I didn’t know newborns were so gassy, but my son was not bashful when it came to releasing some stored up energy.  My first attempt at a diaper change came after a nurse told us it was now our job. Well that pissed me off because my insurance was paying several thousand bucks for our room and the least we could get was some diaper changes!  I took charge, removed the diaper, made the usual face of disgust every new dad will make, and wiped away.  Why the hell is it like tar?!?  How did he manage to get so much around his balls?!?!  Well I finished and was so proud!  The nurse came in, took off the diaper and showed me I missed some spots.  I felt like a moron, but I was better after that first time.

Feeding the baby

My wife had decided that breast feeding would be her preferred method of feeding for our son.  I loved this idea – less work for me and a huge savings on not having to buy formula for at least 6 months.  Apparently breast feeding isn’t as easy as it seems on the nature channel and can take some time for the baby to get the hang of it.  When he had issues or didn’t get enough food we had to bottle feed and that fell to me.  Holding a 6lb baby and shoving a bottle in his mouth is a bit nerve racking.  Can he still breath?  Will he choke?  Does he know how to get the milk?  Will he stop when he is full?  Will he explode? Will he instantly spit-up all over me like in the movies??!?!?  Turns out the baby knows what the he is doing and your only job is to basically hold the bottle for him.  This became one of the more enjoyable moments for me since it was just me and my son.  Once breastfeeding kicked in full throttle my role really diminished and I missed it.

Burping the baby

I was not good at this from the jump.  My wife and I had all kinds of problems getting our son to burp.  We were very timid and too gentle in trying to help him get some gas moving.  I don’t think you can really get good at this until you work with your baby.  Getting comfortable with how to hold them, what is comfortable for you, and what gets the best results.  Take some basic child care classes so you can have an idea of what is expected.  If you can throw some hot milk on yourself during the class it will get you ready for being spit-up on…that is a fun moment.