Being a Great Dad For Dummies Cheat Sheet (Australian Edition) - dummies
Cheat Sheet

Being a Great Dad For Dummies Cheat Sheet (Australian Edition)

Being a great dad takes patience and perseverance, but is 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 nappies 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.

Changing a Nappy Step-by-Step

Changing a baby’s nappy (or diaper) requires attention to details and to baby. The two most important rules for safe and stress-free nappy changing are:

  • Never, ever leave a baby unattended on a high surface like a change table or bed.

  • Have everything on hand before you start, so you don’t have to break the first rule by searching for something halfway through.

Next, gather everything you’ll need:

  • A clean nappy

  • Something to clean baby’s bottom with — a baby wipe, moist cotton wool or soft flannel

  • Barrier cream

  • Something to change baby on such as a changing mat, an old towel or an old-fashioned cloth nappy that protects the surface under your baby from mess

  • Something to put the dirty nappy in, such as a bin or plastic bag

To change your baby’s nappy:

  • Put the old towel or changing mat on the surface where you’re changing your baby. Put the clean nappy next to the changing mat.

  • Lay your baby on the changing mat.

  • Open the nappy’s tabs, Velcro, domes or safety pins and take off the dirty nappy by gently lifting your baby’s ankles with one hand and pulling the nappy away from under your baby’s bottom. Dispose of the nappy into the bin, plastic bag or nappy bucket for washing later. If you can’t dispose of the nappy, make sure it’s out of baby’s reach. If you’re near a toilet and you’re dealing with relatively solid poo, you can shake it into the toilet.

  • Use a wipe or moist cotton wool to wash your baby’s bottom and around his genitals. Dry him off. If your baby is a girl, wipe from front to back to avoid any nasties from her bottom getting into her urinary tract and causing an infection.

  • If your baby’s bottom or genital area appears red or irritated, put some barrier cream on the irritated skin.

  • Lift your baby’s ankles with one hand and use the other to put the clean nappy under his bottom. On a disposable nappy, the side with the tabs go at the back.

  • Your baby should be lying on the clean nappy, so it’s just a case of doing up the nappy’s tabs, Velcro, domes or safety pins. If your baby is a boy, tuck his penis down so when he pees, it goes into the nappy, not out the front.

  • Put your baby somewhere safe, such as on the floor or in his bouncinette.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly, ideally with an antibacterial soap.

  • If you haven’t already, put the dirty nappy in the rubbish or bucket for washing.

Voila — a clean, happy baby!

Soothing a Crying Baby

Babies cry for lots of different reasons and respond differently to soothing techniques, such as the following. Find out what works for your wee one:

  • Feed your baby, he may just be hungry.

  • Burp him, he may have air trapped in his tummy.

  • Change his nappy, he may be uncomfortable.

  • Check he’s not too hot or too cold by putting your hand on the back of his neck. It should feel comfortable (not sweaty or cold).

  • Rock him gently, or cuddle him.

  • Take him for a walk in a stroller, back pack or sling.

  • Try to settle him in bed if he seems tired.

  • Sing a lullaby or play some soothing music.

  • Give your baby a warm bath, or have a bath with him.

Settling a baby who’s upset is hard work and can be tough emotionally for you. If your baby’s crying is overwhelming you, and you’re getting wound up or angry, put your baby in a safe place, such as on her play mat or in her cot, and take a breather. Take a few minutes to calm down, then go back to your baby.

If you’re alone and need to talk to someone about your baby’s crying, call your Well Child provider or child health nurse.

Activities for You to Share with Your Baby

As well as having fun with bub, you’ll be developing his abilities and muscles when you try the following activities. Both you and baby can benefit!

  • Lie him on his tummy. Also known as ‘tummy time’, a few minutes a couple of times a day on his tummy helps strengthen your baby’s back and neck muscles. On the floor you can do some visual activities such as blowing bubbles or slowly moving a ball in front of his eyes. Place some objects such as toys just out of reach. He’ll try reaching them as he develops his physical skills.

  • Blow bubbles. Watching bubbles helps your little one’s eyesight and gets him looking up during tummy time, strengthening his neck muscles.

  • Move him around. Movement is good for getting those synapses or brain connections firing and linking with other parts of the brain. Try some gentle rocking, or have him lie on your lap facing you as you move your legs up and down. Or you can have bub on your shins while you lie on the floor. Hold his hands and lift your legs. He’ll love it.

  • Read to him. You can’t start the book habit too early. Picture books with clear contrasting colours are a big hit.

  • Talk to him — a lot. He can’t understand your words, but he’s listening and learning and picking up language faster than he ever will again. You don’t have to discuss Shakespeare or politics, just talk about what you’re doing or seeing.

Activities to Enjoy with Your Toddler

Activities that stimulate and develop your toddler’s senses, imagination, coordination and other skills can also be great fun — for you and your child. Try the following:    

  • Camp in your living room. Set up a tent in your living room and fill it with pillows, toys and sleeping bags. Snuggle up, watch some fun movies and eat some treat food. If you don’t have a tent, organise a large cardboard box (supermarkets, retail stores or furniture shops may be able to provide you with one) and make a little house out of it.

  • Make a roll-around bottle together. Cut two big plastic drink bottles in half and use the top end of both of them. Put some interesting shapes inside and thread a shoe lace through the bottle tops on either end. Seal the middle with tape. Knot the shoe laces together to make a line that your toddler can drag around.

  • Create an obstacle course. Make tunnels by placing a blanket over the tops of two chairs with their backs facing each other. Add other elements with low tables to crawl under, stairs to climb and boxes to climb over.

  • Play chase. Toddlers love being chased, peeking through curtains, and a bit of rough and tumble when they’re caught.

  • Make lunch. Toddlers love to help and seem especially drawn to helping out in the kitchen. Get your toddler his own stool or box to stand on so he can reach the bench top and help with simple tasks, such as peeling boiled eggs. He can move on to using a knife (with your supervision, of course) to cut up firm fruit and vegetables like cucumbers and zucchini.

Ages and Stages of Your Child’s Development

As your child gets older, she develops new skills and abilities. The following table provides a general overview of what you might find your child doing at a certain age. It’s important to note that this is not a ‘benchmark’ table. Every child develops in her own unique way and this means that some children are months earlier or later demonstrating a particular skill or behaviour.

Age What your child is doing
Up to six months Baby is developing an attachment to you through the way you
care for her.
Milk is her sole form of nutrition.
Responds and interacts with you through smiles, coos and
Can only communicate her wants and needs through crying.
Learns about her environment through grasping and mouthing
Six months to one year Moves onto solid food.
Gradually becomes more mobile, first by rolling over from back
to tummy, then moving onto crawling, pulling herself to standing,
cruising (walking by holding onto things) and walking independently
at about one year.
Can develop separation anxiety, and become upset when parents
leave the room.
One to two years Learns to walk, run, climb, and walk up and down stairs.
First words, which develop into first sentences.
Can have difficulty controlling wants and needs, becoming upset
when she doesn’t get her way. She may also hit, bite and
snatch when she’s frustrated.
She’s becoming increasingly independent and wants to do
more things by herself, such as making food, putting on clothes, or
brushing her teeth.
May be ready to start toilet training.
Two to five years Can understand more complex requests.
Motor skills are gaining ground. Your child learns to use
scissors, draw and build structures.
Starts to tell longer stories, remembers incidents and
questions everything.
Pushes boundaries of what is acceptable behaviour and needs a
parent to steer her back on to the right path.
Uses her imagination to turn cardboard boxes into houses, or
make up stories.
Friendships become more important.

Adapted from Thriving Under Five, Plunket