During my tenure as en editor at Babytalk and Parenting, I have interviewed pediatricians, OB-GYNs, couples and family counselors, child psychiatrists, neonatal nurses, teachers, EMTs, nutritionists, sex experts, celebrities, and everyday moms and dads. In those interviews, I've asked them for advice, often about fatherhood. A month ago, I set a goal: Revisit every story I've written, and distill every good piece of advice into a simple, bite-size nugget.
Introducing Dadvice, a collection of 90 tips and tricks, do's and don'ts, try-this's and skip-that's, for every stage of fatherhood. It's the most complete, most comprehensive list available anywhere. Print it. Bookmark it. Share it. Tweet it.
1. You will be the second person to know that you're having a baby. If she has a BFF, possibly the third. If you're not really a couple, possibly the fourth.
2. A dad is born nine months before a baby is born. The job starts when the pregnancy test displays a plus sign.
3. Cream cheese and cottage cheese are okay for pregnant women. Brie and feta are not.
4. A guy smarter than you just told your pregnant wife she looks beautiful. For the second time. Don't get complacent.
5. Ask your doctor about circumcision before making a decision.
6. Learn how to make a good mocktail.
7. Handle the litter box. Kitty litter is toxic to pregnant women.
8. Keep the gas tank at least half full during the last week of pregnancy.
9. Find a good take-out restaurant near the hospital.
10. Be grateful that your baby is the 19 billionth child to be born in human history. Because I assure you, number 3,605,000 didn't go as smoothly.
11. Take more days that you're given for paternity leave. Your company won't fight it. It's bad PR for them.
12. Buy a newspaper the day he's born.
13. Cutting the umbilical cord: Meh.
14. Wash your hands.
15. The "dad bed" in the hospital room is more comfortable than you'd think.
16. Take every blanket, pacifier and formula packet they give you at the hospital. You paid for it.
17. Your baby's first poop will resemble crude oil. Don't freak out.
18. Imagine being hired as a pilot with no training. "Here's the cockpit. Good luck getting to Houston." That's what it's like coming home with a newborn. And it's like that for everyone.
19. The OB-GYN and pediatrician know as much about raising a great kid as you do. Don't doubt yourself.
20. Stir, don't shake, the bottle when mixing formula.
21. For poop stains, sunlight acts like Shout spray.
22. Newborns don't blink. Don't freak out.
23. Her family will say she looks like one of their relatives. Your family will say she looks like one of your relatives. Get used to it.
24. Don't attempt sex until four to six weeks after delivery day.
25. Meat tenderizer works on breast milk stains.
26. When you're sponge-bathing the baby, don't forget the folds.
27. A diaper bag is a bag with diapers in it. You don't need to buy something new.
28. If you own a backpack, you own a diaper bag.
29. Cargo shorts are a diaper bag you can wear.
30. Go big on Mother's Day. Every year.
31. When the sex starts up again, use lube.
32. Aromatic candles and chewing gum will keep you awake at work.
33. Have your partner leave you a voicemail of the baby screaming. Save it. Play it for friends or co-workers when in need of a good excuse.
34. Your kid's hiccups bother you more than it does them.
35. If your baby is formula-fed, that means you take a night shift too.
36. Diapers are great for buffing cars.
37. Talk to your baby. A lot. Narrate your day.
38. If your stroller doesn't have a cup holder, get one. It's easier to coordinate a moon landing that steer a stroller with one hand.
39. Pedialyte cures a hangover.
40. When it comes to making a decision, don't give Mom a bunch of options and leave it to her to decide. She'll start resenting your inability to take charge.
41. Travel with an extra set of clothes. Both for you and the kid.
42. Baby crying? Hold him against your chest facing out, and do knee bends. Works every time.
43. Say your sorry the same day you make the mistake.
44. A kid's childhood does not need to be luxurious perfection. Aim for pleasurable survival.
45. When in doubt, Swiffer.