Being a dad is often a learn-as-you-go kind of job. Whether your dad was a part of your life growing up or not, there is much you can learn from the men you looked up to in your community. Read more below about how to be a great father.
Why is my baby crying so much? Babies cry a lot between two weeks to five months old, with the peak at six to eight weeks. Some babies cry as much as five hours a day. It’s completely normal. Remember that crying doesn’t mean the baby is angry with you or that you’re a bad parent. It’s their only way to communicate with you.
All of this can get very annoying and frustrating, but never shake your baby to stop the crying. Shaking can cause blindness, permanent brain damage or death. If you need to take a break by putting the baby in a safe place and stepping away for a few minutes, it’s okay.
There are several things you can do to calm a fussy child: rub the baby’s back, rock the baby, or take a walk or a drive. Swaddling and whispering “shush” repeatedly into the baby’s ear can also help. Smile while comforting your baby. Stay connected, look into your baby’s eyes and reassure your baby everything is going to be ok because daddy is here.
Sweet dreams. During the first few months, your baby will sleep between 15 and 20 hours a day. Babies sleep safest when caregivers follow the ABCs of safe sleep:
- Alone: Babies should sleep alone, without parents, siblings or stuffed animals.
- Back to sleep: Babies should sleep on their backs. The Back to Sleep national campaign has reduced SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) deaths in America by 50%. It’s hard for babies to breathe when they sleep on their sides or bellies, and they can suffocate.
- Clean and clear crib: The safest place for a baby to sleep is a crib with a tight-fitting mattress and no toys, blankets or baby bumpers. Dress your baby in a light onesie and try to keep the temperature around 70 degrees, as babies don’t regulate their temperatures well and can easily overheat.
If your baby is not sleeping in a safe place, he or she can easily slide into a position that won’t let him or her breathe. To make sure your baby is safe:
- Never let your baby sleep unattended in a car seat, swing, bouncy seat or stroller.
- Never put your baby to sleep on a pillow, sofa, quilt, rug or other soft surface.
- Never put your baby to sleep on a couch or armchair.
Get those shots. There is a lot of misinformation out there about vaccines. Vaccines have not been shown to have any connection to autism. They do not cause learning disabilities or any other disorders. Vaccines are the best way to prevent infection from many serious illnesses that used to kill many babies every year, including polio, rotavirus and measles. Without the protection of vaccines, your baby’s immune system would be at risk for diseases that could leave him or her with lifelong disabilities or even death. Make sure your baby goes to all of his or her well child visits and gets all of the recommended vaccines.
Keep your baby safe in the seat. Car seats are your baby’s best protection during a crash. Babies are especially vulnerable during crashes because they are so small. Adult restraints are NOT built to protect them. The impact of a crash can easily cause damage to their heads and necks. Make sure you read the manual for your car seat and know how to install it and buckle your baby in properly.
You can even get your car seat inspected by an expert to see if you’re doing it right. Don’t forget to buckle up yourself. Be an example for your children as they grow and show them you’ll always be there for them by not taking unnecessary risks — like texting and driving.
It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it. Nobody loves it, but changing your baby’s diaper immediately after it gets very wet or dirty helps prevent painful diaper rash (and earns you points with mom). Perhaps the most important reason to change your baby’s diaper is that it helps build a dad-baby bond.
Make sure too much time doesn’t pass between changings. Every half hour or so, check your baby’s diaper with a tap, a peek or a sniff. Doing so keeps the baby happy by ensuring he or she doesn’t sit in a wet or dirty diaper for too long.
If it is time for a new diaper, make sure it fits properly. It should never be too tight. If two fingers can fit between the diaper and the baby’s tummy, the fit is just right. A tight diaper makes a baby unhappy. A loose diaper makes a baby leaky.
The best menu for your baby. The only thing your baby should be eating for the first four to six months is breastmilk or formula. Breastmilk is best. Foods like juice, tea, sodas, fruit-flavored drinks, cow’s milk and soy milk don’t provide the nutrients a developing child needs. You should also avoid solid foods (like cereal) until the baby’s clinician says it’s okay — usually after the first six months.
If your partner is breastfeeding, make sure she’s drinking plenty of water and eating healthy foods. Breastfeeding is better for her health and can get her back to her pre-pregnancy figure sooner.
Baby won’t stop crying? Get tips on how to soothe your baby.
Get more information on SIDS and how you can prevent it by visiting the Room to Breathe website.
Learn more about car seat safety at Safe Kids Texas.