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There are an abundance of parenting guides out there; most of them are for women, some of them are for men, but almost all of them will paint a delightful picture of how life will be when your bundle of joy arrives into the world. Unfortunately, the authors of those books left out the honesty. For those of you who may not be quite as confident in your parenting skills as the professor of parenting that wrote the self-help opus that you held in your hands before browsing Mandatory, we’re here to fill in the gaps for you with some brutal truths about new fatherhood.
1. Mother Knows Best
This is the most important rule of all, so make sure and write it on the back of your hand so you don’t forget it. In the first weeks after bringing a new baby at home, it’s easy to forget the hell that was the last nine months for Mom. If you need to do double bottle feedings, make dinner, and change a whole day’s worth of poopy diapers so she can have a break, then suck it up and accept it. You got off easy, without any changes to your body or having to push a human out of you. The little pleasures, like having a beer, have been all yours while she’s had to go without. So if Mom needs a couple of hours with her bae (read: Netflix), then let her have it and earn yourself a few brownie points.
2. Formula is Worse Than Poop
The first poopy diaper that you change will be horrendous, make no mistake. The first time a diaper explodes up the baby’s back will be even worse. But poop isn’t actually the worst thing to deal with. Once you’ve changed a really horrific diaper, they won’t faze you anymore. What doesn’t get any easier is formula puke. That stuff doesn’t only stink, but the scent doesn’t wash off either. Breast milk isn’t so bad, but don’t let formula spit-up or puke get near your hair, beard, or clothes. It’s nasty.
3. Do Not Point the Baby at Your Face
This may or may not be related to the previous point. As much fun as you think you might be having while playing or holding the baby in front of your face, literally nothing good comes from an infant’s mouth until its first word. An ounce of prevention will keep you out of the line of fire.
4. Babies Aren’t Made Out of Glass
Disclaimer: while babies may not be made of glass, you do have to be careful with your little one. That said, inexperienced dads may be concerned that they’re going to snap the baby in half or hurt their neck when they throw their head back without warning. Just relax. As long as you have a gentle touch, babies are pretty robust. If they cry while you’re dressing them, it’s just because they’re annoyed at you for being a little less slick at this than Mom.
5. Don’t Get Drunk
While you might be tempted to go out and celebrate the birth of your new child, take it easy and don’t get drunk. There’s nothing worse than dealing with a newborn while nursing a full-body hangover (yours, not the baby’s). Even with the strongest stomach, your hands may be too shaky to change diapers and your baby’s fussing will only make your headache worse. Caring for a newborn is hard enough as it is; don’t make it harder on yourself by getting wasted.
6. Baby Monitors Will Transmit Your Voice As Well As The Baby’s Cries
If you’re in your baby’s room and the monitor is on, the other units will transmit your voice. Nobody needs to be serenaded with your lullabies or, even worse, listen to you spilling your guts to the baby. When the monitor’s on, be on your best behavior. Mom’s listening.