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5 Tips for the Newborn Stage

Photograph by Getty Images

For today's lesson, boys and girls, I've decided to interview my husband, a maddeningly near-perfect father of four, the kind that causes old ladies to swoon at him and his brood in the grocery store, the stuff that wife envy is made of when I confess that he never fails to get up with the babies at night.

And because writing about parenting is my life, I admit that I tend to leave my husband out of most of my thoughts, even though, obviously, he is a central player. Heck, I even wrote an entire book about how much motherhood impacted my life and when an interview once asked me how my husband reacted to our unexpected pregnancy, I was at a loss for words.

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Contrary to my tendency to overlook my husband and his award-worthy parenting skills, it's safe to say that he has picked up some tips and tricks in his journey to become "Father of the Year." So, to any first-time mothers-to-be out there, enjoy sharing these pearls of wisdom from this dad who has been there with me every step of the way, from the moment those first tiny blue lines appeared on a stick late one night to ignoring the tiny lines etched forever in my stomach every night. (Well, not every night, of course, haha. I mean, we do have four kids …)

1. Master the swaddle.

When I was pregnant with our first daughter, I was working as a student nurse in labor and delivery, so I admit that I kind of spaced out during the learn-to-swaddle portion of our childbirth class. Not my husband, though. He painstakingly practiced and perfected that darn blanket swaddle to an art form that still, after years of working in OB, rivals—and probably surpasses—my own baby swaddle. If not for the magic quality that swaddling possesses in calming a squalling infant, my husband recommends that all dads master the swaddling technique if for nothing else than to have one-up on their partners.

2. Skip the non-essentials.

Confession: We totally had a diaper genie with our first daughter. And we used it almost religiously for at least a month. And now? My husband just shakes his head and laughs at the memory. He cautions dads-to-be that the process of emptying and refilling your now sausage-like poopy diapers is much more disgusting work than simply disposing of the things in the first place. Plus, newborns poop so much in the middle of the night you won't be awake enough to use it anyways. Pro dad tip? Skip the diaper genie, the wet wipe warmer and just learn to perfect your lost basketball skills with aiming for a strategically placed trash can instead.

3. Learn the football hold.

You know how babies typically love their moms best? Yeah, I know—go figure, right? But there comes a time in every mother's life when she must hand off her squalling infant in complete and total exasperation because she just doesn't know what else to do, and it is in that moment of desperation that the football hold can transform any formerly hapless father into the hero of the hour. Without the comfort of a mother's bosom, the football hold is a must-learn for any man who wants to hold his offspring. It's like a magic switch to turn screaming babies into sleeping bundles of bliss.

4. Sleep with a fan.

My husband thought I was crazy when he learned I was bred from birth to require the sound of a fan to sleep. But now? He's a total convert. If you pick up a simple $10 box fan and switch it on at night or when your baby naps, not only will you skip any pricey "sound machines" to help lull your baby to sleep, but you will have created an effective sleep "trigger" for your infant to cue him or her when it's night-night time. Plus, the fan is helpful to drown out the inevitable chaos that occurs when you add to your brood. Oh, and sleeping with a fan may reduce the risk of SIDS, as well.

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5. Soak up the napping-baby-on-your-chest phase while you can.

As I pestered my husband for his fatherly advice in this piece, a look of fond nostalgia passed on his face. "Tell them that watching a football game on a Sunday afternoon with a sleeping baby on your chest is the best thing ever," he said with a wistful glance towards our living room TV, now more likely to be covered in sticky fingerprints and blasting "Curious George" than the NFL theme song. "I miss those days."

And there you have it—the simple advice from a father, his babies, a fan and the loving remembrance of weekend football.

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