Jude here, Lolli’s hubs, soon to be grandpa…granfer of Josie.
Here are my thoughts for dads out there in regard to must have baby items–
I don’t know if you need a $1,400 Snoo but I do think the Happiest Baby on the Block was one of the greatest books on parenting for any new parent. It’s something dad can do to be a part of the action and it gives everyone some much needed peace. The swaddle feels bad to any parent who sleeps like a starfish in bed because we think of the freedom of our arms and legs moving around but the basic idea is that a baby should gestate for a year but would never fit through the vaginal canal if they gestated that long. So the whole premise is that there is a fourth trimester. If you’ve seen a baby startle awake, you know they wake themselves up with arm and leg movements. The swaddle keeps them immobile like they are in the womb. The Shhhhhhhh-shhhhhhhh sound in their ear is the sound they hear in the womb already. That’s why hair dryers, vacuums, and the baby swing are so soothing. A white noise machine too. Baby can such dad’s finger while laying on their side and there is nothing quite like the feeling of baby’s butt on the crook of your elbow, head gently rocking in your hand and baby sucking on your pinkie until they are asleep.
If you do nothing else at all, the swaddle and the other four Ss are lifesavers.
Burp cloths, diapers, a changing table (doesn’t have to be fancy, but it needs to be a good height), the diaper trash can with the plastic bags in it (poop stinks and there’s more of it than you expect), wipes, and more burp cloths- none of this is the stuff of dreams but you need more than you thought. My darling daughter was a barfer so I took to wearing a black t-shirt everyday and had 10 more in the dresser. I’d beg my baby girl to barf on my shirt and not my pants so I could swap out for another one.
The baby bjorn and the osprey kid carrier backpack were the first two ways I bonded with my girl. I’d put her in the bjorn (always face inwards to you so she gets closer to you – facing her outward is like wearing jewelry – she can’t see well in those first months anyway and you and mama are the two most important people in the world to her). As she gets old she rides above your shoulders in the backpack and you go anywhere and every wear with her. You already know that carrying a load on your hips and shoulders is much better than in one arm and you can take her any wear. The rocking outs her to sleep. I have a thousand selfies of my baby girl asleep in the backpack on my back while I trundle along the trail. Spoiler alert: I’m getting that osprey pack for my son in law.
The swing was a lifesaver for us with my daughter. It wasn’t just for her mama but for me as well. The rocking and the soft sound of the motor soothed us all.
The other must have is the car seat stroller combo. Lock the base in the car once and then every now and then make sure it’s tightly belted in. Do it once and then it’s so easy to take your baby girl from the car to the stroller to a restaurant (for 9 months or so, you can leave her in her seat in the chair next to you and have a reasonable dinner at Applebee’s- no promises on fancy dinner but an unfancy night out is still awesome and the car seat to restaurant to stroller to car seat makes it so much easier).
Others: the Boppy breastfeeding pillow for mama, the bumbo chair to let her sit up before she can hold herself up, a mobile to reach up and touch, burp cloths (I already said that one twice and now a third time because I mean it – I wanted to invent a burp cloth wearable vest for men).
The first few months are little sleep. I think nature designs it that way so we will forget how rough those first few months are. It’s ok. You will get through it. But more than that you will mostly forget it happened. It’s painful but it’s also not painful. It’s like being in pain but having a pain pill – you know it’s there but you don’t care.
I used to stand my girl up on my lap and look at her little face when everyone was asleep. I’d loop my thumbs under her armpits and use my two pointer fingers to prop her head up. We would just loom at each other and make faces at each other. Did you know that in the first few days a baby will copy your facial expressions? She can stick her tongue out if you stick yours out and open her mouth if you open yours? And did you have any idea that this would be something you could do nonstop for four hours without thinking of anything else in the world? Ok not for four hours, but not because you ever got tired of it.
There are so many other things, but don’t be afraid to borrow things. You don’t need to buy a $500 breast pump which is completely sterile, you can borrow someone else’s $500 breast pump and buy sterile tubes and bottles and it’s all the same. This is true of everything in the baby industrial complex. Borrow borrow borrow. Then lend to someone else. Share whenever you can and don’t be afraid to ask someone with a one year old if they have anything you might borrow or even have. My guess is that there are thousands of breast pumps used for three months sitting in garages. A little boiling water and alcohol and it’s new again.
Last thing for now: I got this advice from some goods friends with two kids. Don’t buy stuffed animals for your kids. Never buy them. You know why? Because no matter what you do you will have a closet full of them in months. And you will purge and have another closet full of them. Then purge and then full again. Let other people buy them and your baby will get attached to one or more of them.
Signing off for now. Granfer.