Tips for the First Two Years of Fatherhood

Today is our oldest son’s second birthday. Rather than write a sappy post about how much I love him and how he’s made me a better man (this should be assumed), I thought I’d whip up a list of tips and tricks for other parents on what we’ve found to work for us over the past two years.

Fatherhood Tips

This list is in no particular order. It’s a brain dump if you will.

So, without further adieu, here we go…

What I’ve Learned Raising a Two Year Old

  • Umbilical cords smell. Really bad. It’s rotting flesh people!
  • You might wait 8 days or longer for that first poop.
  • You need support from family and friends during those first few weeks. Accept it.
  • You will experience no tired like the tired you feel with a newborn. If you fight it and try to be on your regular sleep schedule, it will only frustrate you. Accept it and it will be easier.
  • Coffee and water. Lots of both.
  • Remember to take a shower. Seriously. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the new schedule that you forget to take time out for yourself.
  • You WILL become a diaper changing expert. Seriously…thousands.
  • Agree to a feeding rotation with your spouse or partner. Don’t wait until baby is hungry to decide whose turn it is. That will only breed resentment:)
  • You will have poop on your hands, under your fingernails, and quite possibly other places.
  • Pee. You will get pee’d on if you have a boy. Don’t let your guard down. It will happen when you least expect it.
  • If you don’t have carpet, get some. We have tile in our living room and when he started rolling around we had him to put him on a rug. When he started crawling, we had to get a cushioned play pad. When he started walking (wobbling), he took a couple good falls on the tile.The best investment we made was to get a “loose lay” carpet to put over the tile with some padding. Since then, we’ve had a lot of fun play time with no worry of goose eggs on the forehead:)
  • Speaking of close calls…you will get to know the subtleties of your child’s behavior. If something is different, take action. I don’t want to scare you, but things happen. Read this.
  • You will get really tired of making bottles. Why can’t formula be refrigerated for more than 24 hours?!
  • That reminds me…you will also get puked on…a lot. I actually had a few t-shirts set aside for feeding times. Whether you have a burp cloth or not, your shirt will get breast milk or formula on it.
  • Remember to change that shirt before you head to the grocery store with vomit all over your shoulder that you forgot about.
  • Always take supplies with you. No matter how quick you think the trip might be. Some items to always have on hand (depending on age of course):
    • diapers
    • wipes
    • formula
    • pacifier (and get a pacifier strap so it doesn’t hit the floor every two minutes!)
    • Sippy cup
    • Raisins
    • Crackers
    • Toys
  • Get tapered pants. The kind with the cuffs by the ankles. Otherwise, they will stretch out and he’ll start tripping on them when running around the house.
  • Play music. A much as you can. I should have mentioned this first!
  • Talk to your child like you’re having a conversation with them (even though they can’t answer you back). I firmly believe that because we made a point to explain the things we were doing like “Daddy is doing the dishes. We put them in the dishwasher to get them clean.”, that it helped with his understanding of language and his surroundings.
  • Don’t fall for all the parenting gadgets. Electric bottle warmer? How about a glass filled with hot tap water that I put the bottle in for a few minutes? Yep, that will work just fine.
  • When he’s old enough get the WeeRide (video) and no other bike seat. It’s awesome and he loves going for bike rides and being able to see where he’s going. I can also talk to him easily and point out the things we see on our rides.
  • He will love vegetables, then hate them and only eat tater tots, then love them again.

I’ve just realized that I could spend weeks making this list, but it’s 4:45am and I need to get some sleep.

There’s so much more than can be added, but for now, I’ll humbly ask that you share your own tips in the comments so that other new parents finding this can benefit from our collective experience.

Please also feel free to share this with your friends and family.