Dad's Guide to Baby's First Year For Dummies book cover

Dad's Guide to Baby's First Year For Dummies

By: Sharon Perkins and Stefan Korn Published: 08-01-2016

Your comprehensive, practical guide to dadhood

Your new baby is nothing short of a miracle—and it's no wonder you want to keep your bundle of joy safe and sound through every stage of their first year. Dad's Guide to Baby's First Year For Dummies takes the guesswork out of being your baby's primary caregiver, giving you sound instruction and helpful advice on looking after your baby, the essential gear you'll need to baby-proof your home, practical solutions to common parenting challenges, and so much more.

Whether it's due to a fledgling economy or a simple sign of modern times, more and more men are staying at home with the kids while their breadwinning wives or partners deal with rush hour traffic. Whatever the reason you've decided to take on the role of Mr. Mom, Dad's Guide to Baby's First Year For Dummies offers all the friendly guidance and trusted tips you need to be a fantastic full-time parent.

  • Look after your baby and teach children great skills
  • Help your partner through pregnancy, birth, and beyond
  • Follow the habits of highly successful dads
  • Be a hands-on, stay-at-home dad

If you're a proud papa-to-be, Dad's Guide to Baby's First Year For Dummies ensures all your bases are covered, so you can spend less time fretting about fatherhood and more time cherishing your wee one.

Articles From Dad's Guide to Baby's First Year For Dummies

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23 results
Dad's Guide to Baby's First Year For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 10-31-2016

Being a great dad during your baby's first year (and beyond) takes patience and perseverance, but it's a heap of fun and one of the most rewarding things you'll ever do. Your child will love every minute you spend with her, whether you're changing her diapers when she's a baby, playing rough and tumble as a toddler, or teaching her how to ride a bike. Your time is by far the most valuable gift you can give your child.

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10 Ways for Dads to Bond with Newborn Baby

Article / Updated 10-28-2016

Bonding and forming an attachment to his caregivers allows your child to feel secure so he can focus on growth and development to become independent and self-confident in the world at large. He’s half your DNA, so shouldn’t bonding happen by default? Yes and no. Bonding is a process that needs to be worked at, but it’s not hard, and because you’re the adult, you’ll have to lead the way at the beginning. Be 100 percent committed Make a point of totally committing yourself mentally to looking after your little one, not just on a day-to-day basis, but for life. Becoming a father is like getting married — you’re in this thing for better or worse, in sickness and in health. But there’s one big difference — if things don’t work out, there’s no divorce. Your child will be your child forever. And because this is your child’s one shot at life, give your little one the best shot you can. Be at the birth The first time you lay eyes on your long-awaited baby is indescribable. Some fathers say the world changed in an instant, and the instinct to protect their vulnerable new child was overwhelming. Others say it took them a few weeks to truly feel special about their child. Either way, seeing your baby for the first time is a once-in-a-lifetime event that’s not to be missed. It’s an exclusive gig that’s happening for three people, and you’ve got a backstage pass, so use it! If you’re at the birth, you not only get to see the amazing process of birth itself, but you also get to take part! You get to hold your baby, you get to mop up your partner’s blood (just kidding), and you can cut the umbilical cord. And while mom is getting a bit of a rest and some attention from the medical staff, you’ll have a chance to check out your precious new little parcel in detail. Don’t forget to take lots of photos! Get up close and personal Newborn babies have spent their entire lives inside a person, so it makes sense that your little one will still want to be close to the people who love him — that’s first and foremost, you and your partner. And what better way to be close than skin-to-skin? Your newborn will love snuggling into your chest, be it thick with hair or not, so whip off that shirt and cuddle. Kangaroo care, as skin-to-skin contact is sometimes known, is a technique used in the care of premature babies to facilitate better breastfeeding, temperature control, bonding, and attachment. But your baby doesn’t have to be premature to benefit. He’ll learn your smell and your sound, and love listening to the gentle thud of your heartbeat putting him to sleep. Another way to get some close contact with your baby is to take a bath or shower with him. Wait until the belly button is fully healed. You may feel a bit clumsy with a wobbly, tiny baby, but after a few attempts you’ll feel more confident. Let your baby rest on your chest in the tub. Have mom nearby to hand you the baby when you’re settled in the bath, and give her a call to take the baby out when you’re finished. Be careful that the water isn’t too hot, or the room too chilly, as your baby doesn’t have good control over his temperature yet. Ready, set … read! Reading to your baby from day one not only encourages closeness, but it also gives her a chance to see colors and shapes and listen to your voice. Your little tyke can’t tell whether you’re speaking Spanish or Swahili, but she adores the sound of your voice, your smell, and being close to you. As your baby grows up and becomes more aware of her surroundings, she’ll learn that books are just a normal, everyday part of life that have always been there. Being read to also helps with language development, which starts happening on day one. Before she can speak, she’ll be learning through you about the colors, shapes, animals, and emotions that she sees on the pages in front of her. Engage in tummy time Tummy time is an important technique in kick-starting your child’s development. Simply lay your baby on his tummy and encourage him to lift his head. This is important because it gets him to use his neck and upper body muscles, and encourages him to look ahead and focus on objects. As he gets older, tummy time helps him develop cross-line movement, which is the action a baby does when he crawls. Start with just a few minutes a day and build up from there. Most newborns aren’t that fond of tummy time. Tummy time is hard work for them, so expect a bit of resistance at first. But keep at it because tummy time helps your baby develop on many levels. Be hands-on — literally Baby massage is a technique that every dad should have in his repertoire. Baby massage is easy to learn, and both you and your newborn will love it. Start by bathing your baby; then dry her on her change table or a similar flat surface. Make sure the room you’re in is warm, just like when you go for a massage. Get some natural oil, like calendula, or a commercial product made especially for babies and start massaging. Use gentle strokes up and down your baby’s limbs, and gently roll her over to rub her back. Use your thumbs to gently knead her legs and feet. If you want to get more technical about baby massage, a variety of instructional videos and booklets are available. Be the Paparazzi The first year is populated by so many firsts that your head will spin: first smile, first bath, first outing, first swimming lesson, first bump or bruise, and (possibly) first steps. So take lots of photos in lots of different settings. Before too long, you’ll be looking at the photos and getting all nostalgic. Put the photos on your phone, on your work computer, on your desk, and in your wallet. Immerse yourself in the world of your little one. If you work outside the home, photos can be a great way to remember during the day that you’re a dad now, and it means you’ll look forward to going home to check on your little one. If you’re a stay-at-home dad, taking photos can help you remember the good days when you’re having some bad ones and will help keep mom in the loop about what you’ve been up to with your baby during the day. Get creative Remember that beloved toy truck your granddad carved for you, the one that’s gathering dust in your spare room? Or the quilt that an aunt made for you when you were a baby? Things that are handmade by people who love you not only show you how much they care for you, but they can also become precious heirlooms passed down from generation to generation. Make a future heirloom now by making a mobile, some wooden toys, or decorations like murals for your baby’s room. You’ll get untold pleasure from seeing your child use and enjoy whatever you make or fall in love with a painting you’ve made for her. Take a walk You never would have seen a man pushing a stroller 30 years ago, but now pushing the stroller — or running with the jogger — is totally the “in” thing. And who doesn’t want to show off their stroller with all the adjustable this, that, and the other things strollers come with these days? As you take junior for a stroll, you can check out what models other dads have. In the early weeks, have your child facing toward you, so that she can make out your familiar face and feel comforted by your presence. The more your newborn sees you, the more she’ll realize that you’re her dad. Get your hands dirty Yep. You’re gonna have to change some diapers. Most dads don’t exactly relish the idea of dealing with urine and poop several times a day. Neither do moms. Changing diapers is a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it. But there are also fringe benefits to being a diaper changer. The distance between you and your little tyke when you change a diaper is just perfect for singing and talking together. Many a new dad has seen his baby’s first smile while changing a diaper. It’s the day-to-day care of your baby that tells him you care and can look after him when he needs it. That builds trust, a connection and an attachment your child needs to grow up feeling loved and secure.

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10 Ways to Improve Your Partner’s Pregnancy Experience

Article / Updated 10-28-2016

Pregnancy looks easy when it’s happening to someone else. As a man, you don’t have to endure what’s going on in a pregnant woman’s body 24/7 — and there’s a lot going on. Helping in any way you can is greatly appreciated. Take care of your partner Growing a baby is hard work and takes quite a physical toll on a woman’s body. Sure, some women climb mountains and run marathons up to the day they give birth, but those are exceptions rather than your average woman’s pregnancy experience. For starters, morning sickness can be debilitating, and for some women the morning sickness never eases until the pregnancy is over. The tiredness and carrying around all that blood, fluid, and an extra person puts all sorts of strains on the female body. Look after your partner 24/7 if need be, especially if she’s having a difficult pregnancy, and do all you can to make life easier for her. It may mean looking after the household for nine months all by yourself, and for sure you’ll get sick of it. But let’s face it — would you prefer to squeeze a baby out of your body? So, man up and do whatever needs doing in the house. Get on the wagon Your partner has to stay off alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, blue cheese, seafood, and a whole lot of other stuff to keep that baby in there safe and sound. Seeing you downing a pint of beer and enough salami to sink a small ship could be enough to send her over the edge. Staying off alcohol and cigarettes, not to mention anything heavier you may be into, and eating what she can eat is not only better for you, but it sets up a precedent for how you intend to live as a father. Give your partner some “me” time every now and then The prospect of becoming a mother, while really exciting for your partner, is also a daunting one, both mentally and physically. For most mothers, the first few months after birth end up being a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week job. Even though they traded in their old life of meetings, schedules, work commitments, and deadlines that they may have no sentimental attachment to, for the care of a tiny, helpless baby whom they love, the role can be overwhelming. Over the next few years — perhaps until your child has left home — your partner’s always going to have one eye on what she’s doing and one eye on your child. So in the months before this all kicks off, let her have some time that’s just for her. Be there for the medical stuff Go along to all the medical appointments, scans, and meetings with your midwife or obstetrician. Your partner will want you to be there to share in it. The first time you hear your baby’s heartbeat through the Doppler or see the faint shadows of your baby moving and bouncing around in your partner’s belly during an ultrasound scan, you’ll be glad you came along. Although you’re not carrying the baby right now, that tiny growing thing in there is your child too. Your place is to know about how well he’s developing, any potential health issues, and what options you as a couple have for welcoming your child into the world. Get with the program Start getting some hands-on practice with essential baby knowledge and skills. Moms-to-be love to see their partners getting excited about their new life as parents, and what better way to show it than to throw yourself into the preparations? There’s so much to learn about looking after a newborn baby and the months after that, so why not find out all you can about it? Ask your midwife or obstetrician about prenatal classes in your area and discuss which one you think would suit you and your partner best. Make it a priority to never miss a class, even if there’s work to be done at the office or you’ve been invited to drinks after work. Let’s face it; the office and your work will be there for a long time. Preparing for your first child happens only once in your life. Go on a babymoon As a couple, now is the perfect time to take a relaxing and indulgent holiday somewhere. Don’t choose a 10-mile hike in the mountains. Someplace where lounge chairs and swimming pools are more common than office buildings, with great restaurants and shops to browse. Somewhere the two of you can just hang out, sleep late, read books, and do whatever you want when you want. Check with your healthcare provider before heading off to parts unknown. She may suggest not traveling for a certain number of weeks before your partner’s due date or to certain parts of the world. Be excited about becoming a dad Finding out you’re going to be a dad is a little scary. You may have some reservations because of your own childhood, your financial situation, or the responsibility you’re going to have. Your partner may also share some of those worries and concerns, but burying your head in the sand and pretending the baby’s not going to arrive won’t help. Even if the impending change of lifestyle takes a while to sink in, you can definitely make the pregnancy experience more enjoyable for your partner if you show a bit of excitement about becoming a dad. Showing your partner that you’re excited will get her excited and happy about becoming a mom. You want her to be happy and excited. Celebrate! In a few months when the baby is born, you’ll be celebrating a new person’s presence in your life. Not just any new person, but the person who is on this Earth because of you. That’s pretty special! But it does come with a price — temporary sleep deprivation and a restricted social life. So make the most of your quiet nights and unlimited access to the outside world now! Take your partner out for a posh dinner somewhere fancy, visit a special place together — do whatever spins your wheels as a couple. Record that beautiful belly In our great-grandmothers’ and grandmothers’ days, having a whole litter of children was common, and the pregnant belly was hidden away as if it were some kind of obscenity. These days, though, it’s rare to have more than five or six children, and more usual for a woman to have one to three children in her lifetime. Celebrating the physical changes that take place during pregnancy, such as the voluptuous new shape of a pregnant belly and those plus-sized breasts that you gotta love, is now more usual. Most pregnant women, while despising the weight they put on, love their bellies, so get out your camera from week one and get snapping. Keep telling your partner how beautiful she is For many women, the hardest part of pregnancy is near the due date. Your partner may be having a difficult time getting comfortable at night and suffering from heartburn, hemorrhoids, and various aches and pains. She may have stretch marks, and her legs and feet may be sausage-shaped. Your partner’s tired all the time but can’t sleep. She wants her body back but is frightened about how she’s going to handle giving birth. You, as your partner’s great ally, her support, and her rock, will earn mega brownie points and endear yourself to her always if you keep telling her how beautiful she is. She wants to know that you still find her attractive — not just because of the way she looks, but because of who she is and the fact that she’s going to make a wonderful mother.

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Dad’s Guide to Introducing a Stepmom

Article / Updated 10-28-2016

Wanting to find another partner, or at least have a romantic relationship with someone new, is natural. Your life doesn’t have to be all about being a father and working to support your family. But beware — you’re not the carefree single man you used to be. You now come with extras. When you go on dates or meet someone you’d like to be more than friends with, be honest from the outset that you have children. With the high rate of relationship breakups, it’s no longer unusual to be single with kids, so you needn’t feel self-conscious about it. By letting this person know you have kids from the outset, you’re letting her know how important your children are to you. Some women may not want to get involved with a man who has children — that’s okay, their loss. Talking about a new partner to your children The idea of a new special person in your life after all the mess and trauma of their parents’ breakup may be tough for your children to deal with at first. Initially your children may be confused when they think of how you used to be with their mom and now they’re seeing you with another woman. When you start dating or have met someone special, talk to your children about why you want to date and what it means for your family. Take things slowly and don’t rush your children into anything they’re not comfortable with. Thinking this new person is going to replace their mother may be very painful for your children. The reality is that children are likely to think of their birth mom as “mom,” but over time they can get used to the idea of having two moms. Give your children lots of time and let them know they can ask you lots of questions about your new partner. Be aware that your children may be resistant to the idea of your new partner. If possible, get their ideas for the first meeting and involve them somehow. It may be easier for your children to deal with the situation if they feel they have some sort of say over what happens. Your children may be secretly hoping that you and their mom are going to get back together. The idea of a new romance in your life will mean that’s not going to happen and can be tough for your kids to deal with. Surviving the meet and greet When you have found the right person, she’ll one day need to meet your children, and your children will want to meet her. The meeting doesn’t have to be stressful; it can be as simple as having any of your friends over to visit. You may want to choose this first meeting to happen in a neutral area, like a park, playground, or café. Keep it short, sweet, and casual, and don’t push your kids into liking this new person. After a few visits, chances are your children will get used to having your new girlfriend around. Again, never push them into liking her. It can take years for children to accept that a new person is around and that she’s going to become part of the family. Make it clear to your kids that your new partner or girlfriend isn’t replacing their mother, but is an addition to the family. Continue to support the relationship between your kids and former partner, and make her a priority in your kids’ lives. Ask her to do the same if she gets involved with another partner as well. This situation is probably pretty intense for your new partner too. Listen to the concerns she may have. Just as in any good relationship, you should foster an environment of open communication, where all of you can talk openly about anything, including feelings. Getting remarried If the time comes that you and your new partner decide to get married, get your kids involved with the whole shebang. Ask them what they would like to do. Tell them that this is a very special day for you, and it would be even more special if they helped. Cut them some slack if they’re not hugely enthusiastic about you getting remarried. After all, they may still be clinging to the way things used to be with you and their mom being married. Make sure you don’t get so wrapped up in the event on the day that you don’t notice your children looking lost and feeling sidelined. It can be helpful to have family dedicated to looking out for them and to give them loads of hugs and kisses, because the wedding’s a big day for them too. They now have a stepmom!

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Tips for Dads: Becoming the Primary Caregiver after Divorce

Article / Updated 10-28-2016

You have either been granted a parenting order by the courts or negotiated with your former partner to be the primary caregiver. It’s more unusual for dads to be primary caregivers than it is for moms, so take pride that you’re blazing a trail for dads everywhere! As the primary caregiver, you’re in charge of your kids. Whenever you have to make a decision about your family, keep in mind that the kids come first. Coming to terms with being a primary caregiver Having day-to-day care of your children on your own can be both exciting and terrifying. Being primary caregiver is a huge responsibility, and you need to take a lot into consideration: How do you look after yourself in all this? How will you handle contact arrangements with your former partner? How often will your children see your former partner’s family? Where will you find the money for mortgage payments or rent, food, clothes and school uniforms, school fees, doctor’s visits, transport, school supplies, extracurricular activities, and sports fees? Will you work, or receive welfare or child support payments? How much time will you have for paid employment? How will you juggle your children’s school and sports schedules? How are you going to sort out life with your children if you have a new partner? At times it may seem daunting to be a single dad, but plenty of single moms are out there looking after children and doing a bang-up job. A dad can do just as good a job as a mom! It helps to have a routine and make sure your kids know what’s happening. Enlisting family to give you some space or help with pick-ups or babysitting from time to time also helps. Supporting your children’s mother Even though you’re not partners in a romantic sense, you and your children’s mother are still partners in a parenting sense. Whatever happened during the marriage or partnership that caused the breakdown and separation, it’s time to let go of the negative feelings — the hurt, the resentment, the anger — and get on with raising your children as best as you can. Your children need their mother around. Although she doesn’t live with your children anymore, she can see them all the time and have a close, loving bond with them. What can you do to support the relationship between your kids and their mom? Here are some ideas: Just like bedtime and dinnertime, you might like to make mom time a daily ritual. Mom could call at the same time each night to say good night or read a bedtime story on the phone. If she lives nearby, she could come over for half an hour at the same time each night to tuck the children in. Keep your children’s mother up to date with your children’s progress at school, any special events that are coming up, or parent–teacher evenings she should attend. Keep your negative comments about your kids’ mom to yourself — bad-mouthing her to your children is not okay. They love their mother and have trust in her, and eroding those feelings helps no one. Realize your former partner may be feeling inadequate or irresponsible as a mother. Appreciate that this arrangement is probably quite tough for her. Share pictures, stories, artwork, and school successes with your former partner so she still feels a part of what the children are up to when she’s not there. Try not to be too rigid with contact arrangements. Go easy on your ex-partner if she’s a little late. At the beginning she may be a bit nervous or unsure of how her relationship with her kids is going to work out. Make sure the kids are ready to go when she arrives and pack their bags so she’s not caught out without diapers or sippy cups. Seeking help and assistance As the primary caregiver of the children, you may require some (or loads) of help and assistance. You shouldn’t hold back from making use of what is available. Parenting courses In some cases, courts can require you to complete online parenting courses during the divorce process. Websites such as positiveparenting.com can provide you with a list of acceptable courses. Fatherhood.gov can help you find local programs in your state as well as provide other sources of information that can help you be the best parent possible. Financial help Contact the appropriate government department to see whether you’re eligible for any benefits or tax credits. The IRS website can give you information on whether or not you qualify, based on your income and other factors. Getting out and about Just knowing you’re part of a wider network of dads raising their kids alone and well is invaluable. It’s also really healthy for your kids to know they’re not the only ones dealing with mom and dad being apart. If parents’ groups or dads’ groups are close to where you are, join in so you can network with other parents. Personal help The end of a relationship can bring up some personal issues. You may realize you need help with anger management, self-esteem, or managing stress. Don’t procrastinate — if you feel you could benefit from a coach, therapist, or other specialist, pick up the phone or search the Internet. Your kids need you to be the best dad you can be, so if that means getting a bit of help, just do it. Having fun Despite everything that has happened, spending time with your children is still generally great fun. But you may encounter some times when it isn’t so much fun. When you’ve had a rough day in the office and come home to bills in the mail and children who turn up their noses at their dinner, just stop for a moment and clear your head. Take a look at your children’s faces. Remember how much you love them and how they make you smile and laugh. Your children are worth every bit of extra effort in the end. Your children will bring you more joy than frustration if you’re open to it. Play and interact with your children as much as you can. Read books together, give them lots of hugs, and let yourself be a bit silly with them. Children can learn so much from an involved and caring father. If you’re an older dad, constant playing can take a toll on you, so get other family members involved, set up play dates, and share the fun, while you spend time with adults watching the children have fun. Actually, this is highly recommended for parents of all ages!

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Dad’s Guide to Fathering in the Wake of Separation or Divorce

Article / Updated 10-28-2016

An unfortunate consequence of separation and divorce is that a large number of fathers are separated from their children. Separation should be no barrier to continuing to be a great dad and role model for your child or children. There’s very little difference between the responsibilities of a nonresident father and a living-at-home father. You don’t have to be going through separation to be regarded as a remote father. Fathers who are away overseas on military service, fathers who are in prison, and dads who are very busy or travel often can also be considered remote fathers. Here are some tips for continuing to be a great dad, even though you can’t be there for every bedtime: Be punctual. If you’re expected at noon, be there at 12 p.m. sharp. Waiting around for you can be very hard on a young child, especially one who doesn’t understand why you don’t live at home anymore. Don’t slack off on all those fatherly duties you may have had when you were still living with your kids, such as discipline and encouraging their development. Be consistent with your rules and boundaries. As difficult as it may be, you also need to work hard to agree to some basic principles for disciplining your children with your ex. And of course, keep going with the principles of parenting — provide your child with love and warmth, a secure and safe environment, and lots of time spent listening to and talking with him. Foster a good working relationship with your child’s mother. Your child will pick up on when things aren’t going well between you two, so work hard at putting the anger, bitterness, or frustrations behind you. Keep your promises. If you told your child that you’d be there on Thursday to pick him up after school, then do it. Take care of yourself, mentally and physically. Being positive and happy is rough after separation and divorce, but it makes you a positive role model for your kids. Neglecting your basic needs (eating decent food, showering every day, getting some exercise, and keeping your place tidy) or turning your place into a new bachelor pad is not a great situation for your children to spend time with you. Try to avoid falling into the trap of buying your kids special presents or taking them on special outings all the time in an attempt to be the favorite parent or to ensure they love you. They love you unconditionally, and the best things you can give them are your time, respect, and unconditional love. When you drop off your child at his mother’s house, try not to draw out the goodbyes like you’re about to go to the moon for a month. Normalize the situation by telling him good night, that you love him, and that you’ll see him very soon. Your child may be feeling abandoned, resentful that you’ve left, or just plain confused about when he’ll see you again. Being on time and a man of your word means your little one can trust in you and believe in what you say. Remind him that even though you don’t live at his home anymore, you’ll always be there for him.

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Dad’s Guide to Coping with Illness and Injury

Article / Updated 10-28-2016

Having a sick or injured baby or child is no fun. As well as feeling pretty darn terrible, your child may have trouble understanding what’s wrong with him, not be able to communicate well with you about what’s wrong, and be scared of the treatments he’s receiving. Spotting injury When your child is constantly getting bumps and bruises, it can be hard to tell when something is going on that can’t just be fixed with a bandage and a hug. So how do you figure it out? And what do you do if it’s more serious than you first thought? First of all, stay calm. Reach for the first-aid kit: Broken bones: Your child will let you know he’s broken something because he’ll be in a lot of pain — much more than usual. You may even be able to see how the limb is broken. The area may swell or bruise immediately. Keep your child as still as possible and support the broken limb. Weight on the limb will make it more painful. Get to the emergency department of your local hospital as soon as you can. If your child can’t move, or you think he shouldn’t be moved, such as in the case of a spine or neck fracture, call an ambulance. Burns and scalds: Run cold water on a simple, small burn for 20 minutes. If your child has scalded himself with hot liquid, take his wet clothes off as the heat in the liquid will continue to burn his skin. If material is sticking to the skin, don’t try to take it off. If the burn is serious and you see redness and blistering, get someone to call an ambulance while you take care of your child. After you’ve finished pouring cold water over the area, cover it with a clean cloth or tea towel and see your doctor. Your child will probably be very cold from the cold water, so make sure he’s dressed warmly. Concussion: A bump to the head can result in more than just a lump and bruise. Concussion is a temporary loss of brain function, from the brain banging against the skull. Your child may have hit his head so hard he lost consciousness, or he may have a headache, seem disoriented, and vomit repeatedly. Being irritable and sensitive to light can also be a sign of concussion. Take your child to the hospital immediately. If you’re in doubt about anything to do with your child’s health, it’s better to be safe than sorry, so visit your pediatrician. For any of the following injuries, get yourself to the hospital quickly: Anaphylactic shock from food or a bee sting, where the face or mouth swells and your child has trouble breathing. Bite from a snake, spider, or another animal. Car accident. Convulsions, also called seizures, especially those that last five minutes or more. Some children under age 5 have febrile seizures whenever they run a fever; if this happens regularly, follow your pediatrician’s instructions on whether or not your child needs hospital care every time. Eye injuries. Electric shocks. Swallowing of poisons, toxic material, or prescription medicines that were not prescribed for your child. Having emergency phone numbers on hand In the United States, 911 is the emergency number in every state. The number for Poison Control is 1-800-222-1222. Putting together a first-aid kit Keep a well-stocked first-aid kit to deal with injuries. If you haven’t done so, consider taking an infant and child first-aid and CPR course. It can literally save the life of your child or the lives of others. If you haven’t done a general CPR course for a while, getting a refresher by attending an infant and baby CPR course may also be a good idea. Diagnosing a serious illness All some children have to deal with healthwise are colds, the odd ear infection, or a tummy bug. But some unfortunate children have to cope with much worse. As an involved dad you’ll probably spot the first signs of a serious illness, because you know your child inside out and can tell when something’s not right. It takes a doctor’s diagnosis to confirm when your child has a chronic illness, such as asthma, diabetes, a genetic disorder, or a disease such as cancer. Seeing your little child being admitted to a hospital is stressful and heartbreaking, but fortunately lots of support is available. Your child may be very frightened or blame herself for the chaos her illness is causing in your lives. Try to be as open and honest with her as you can about her health and how you feel, and be available to answer any questions she puts to you. The following organizations can help you in the event of your child being diagnosed with a serious illness. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it — think of the good it might do your child: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology American Cancer Society American Diabetes Association Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

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Finding Other Stay-at-Home Dads

Article / Updated 10-28-2016

There’s a reason why men in the armed services tend to call themselves bands of brothers — they look after one another as if they were blood relatives. The same can be kind of said about SAHDs — we’re on the front line of parenting, taking the hits (dirty diapers), outwitting the enemy (playing chase), fighting the good fight (rough-housing), and going the extra mile (in the stroller, when junior won’t go to sleep). The Brotherhood of Dads is all about camaraderie between fathers and ensuring that dads gather together and get through any good and bad times they may be experiencing. Being at home means that you may become slightly isolated, but you can call on your brothers. Networking as a SAHD So how do you find these mythical brothers who are going to be your rocks when you need them? SAHDs are more common than they used to be, but they’re still a rare beast, so keep your eyes peeled at the local library, music sessions, playgroups, and coffee groups, or just stroll up to other guys pushing strollers — you don’t need an excuse to start a conversation. You can also ask your healthcare provider if she has other SAHDs on her books or knows of any dad groups in the area. Basically, just do what the moms do (but in a man kind of way). Get together with other SAHDs at a local coffee shop, go to child-friendly movie sessions, or take turns meeting at each other’s homes. Moms do this all the time, and they are pretty good at it — no reason why dads can’t network too. Being the only guy in the room Because most primary caregivers are women, most of the activities that you take your child to, especially in his first year of life, are bound to be full of moms and babies. Being the only guy in the room can be a bit weird. Then again … it can be really cool because you’ll get lots of attention, and in our experience, most moms love the fact that there is a SAHD in the group to add some variety and dad-perspective. You may even be overrun with moms keen to find out about the male approach to parenting. Single moms may be especially grateful for exposure to male parenting. So enjoy the attention and show you can keep up with the best of the moms!

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Dad’s Guide to Working from Home with Babies

Article / Updated 10-28-2016

You may decide to be a SAHD who works from home. If you’re used to working with a lot of people or in a busy environment, suddenly finding yourself at home with a child and a laptop to work with can be strange, lonely, and a little boring. You may be tempted to make yourself a cup of coffee every ten minutes, or feel unmotivated because you don’t have a work environment around you to keep that energy going. If you’re not self-disciplined or motivated, chances are working from home is not going to be easy for you. You can do things to stop yourself from going crazy or being so lonely that you invite the meter reader in for coffee: Have a routine for you and your child, so you can slot work in around when she sleeps. Having a structured routine allows you to more easily make appointments, schedule phone calls, or take part in online meetings. If possible, be flexible to allow for those days when your child’s unsettled. Don’t be too ambitious with what you can achieve. You’ll have days when you can’t get any work done and other days when your princess is a dream who sleeps for hours at a time. Overcommitting yourself to your boss will just stress you out and make your fathering life more difficult. Give yourself a few hours each day to get out and about — go for a walk or attend a planned activity like playgroup or swimming lessons. Most of all, use that time to see other people! If you have face-to-face meetings to attend, check ahead of time to see whether you can take your child, or arrange for a sitter, friend, or relative to cover for you. Be enthusiastic about the work you’re doing. Otherwise, you have to ask yourself whether it’s worth the stress of trying to do your job and be a SAHD (which is also a full-time job). Make a work space in your house that’s just for your work. By having your own work space, you don’t have to set up your gear every time you want to work. You’re more likely to settle into productive work if you don’t have to clear the breakfast dishes away from the dining table to work at it while baby is sleeping. When your child gets older, explain to him that this is daddy’s office and not an indoor playground.

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Dad’s Guide to Staying Home with Babies

Article / Updated 10-28-2016

If you’re the primary caregiver, the buck stops with you. Being the primary caregiver is like being the head of a major corporation, only you have one very demanding, unforgiving, but utterly cute client who pays you in smiles and love. Figuring out what your baby wants Trying to figure out what your baby is saying to you when he arches his back or screws up his face in a certain way is daunting. It can be baffling when he’s grumpy and cranky and nothing seems to settle him. You’re not a bad father; you just don’t have the skills to deal with each stage of your child’s life yet. By the way, stay-at-home moms face the same challenges. Figuring out what your baby is trying to communicate is a matter of finding out what you don’t yet know. Fortunately, this is relatively easy these days! Parenting classes are available to help you decipher your baby’s many cues and help you act on them. Parenting classes can also be an invaluable support network. You’ll meet other dads, hear what they’ve been experiencing, and get tips on how to deal with any issues you have with your fatherhood experience. Healthy bodies and active minds Just as your child needs food to grow her body, active movement and experiences feed her mind. When she was first born, her brain was about 15 percent developed, but by 3 years of age, her brain is well on its way to being fully developed. The first three years in particular shape your child’s life like no other period. By making a great connection with your child, giving her lots of opportunities to explore and learn, and lots of physical encouragement, you’re doing the best job a dad can do. All those little things children do when they play — feeling textures, judging distances, figuring out what’s hot and cold, pouring water from one cup to another, and making those raucous noises and squeals — is all about practicing skills that adults have (almost) perfected. By offering lots of things to touch and play with, you’re giving your child lots of opportunities to get some practice in for the real deal — growing up and adulthood. To ensure your child’s body stays as healthy as it can be, give your child lots of healthy and nutritious foods. You may also need to improve your cooking and baking skills in case you’re not a natural-born chef. Remember the basics — avoid fatty, sugary foods; establish a feeding and eating routine; avoid distractions during eating; and ensure your child gets lots of rest and good sleep. Keeping mom in the loop In a busy household, where you’re at home with your child and your partner is out at work, it’s easy to fall into a trap where you’re so absorbed by the hectic lives you lead that you have no time for each other. You’re tired from chasing your little one all day and can’t wait to hand her over to your partner, who’s exhausted from meetings and deadlines. You may fall into a trap of thinking that spending time with your child is a chore. Remembering that the three of you need to spend time together as a family and enjoy each other’s company is really important. If your partner is away at the office and your child does something that would be of interest to her, let her know — send a text message or an image of your child to her. Have the video camera around to capture any new words or milestones your child reaches when your partner isn’t there. And when she comes home, rather than plopping your child on her lap the instant she walks through the door, have a family meal or a general catch-up on what the three of you have been doing all day. As your child gets older, encourage him to do something special for his mom when she gets home, such as bringing her slippers or showing her a drawing he has made.

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