We have previously discussed the usual baby milestones that you can expect as a new parent during that all-important first year. Now, we turn our attention to what you, as a new dad or dad-to-be, can expect during the first 12 months. What may change? How? Each baby is different and so are you, but there are still a number of things that you may share with thousands of other dads out there.
So, what can you expect during your first year as a new father?
You may not have changed a nappy before and may even be surprised at how many times a nappy needs to be changed, but don't worry, it should soon become routine. The first nappy can be a milestone but, after that, they usually become a lot easier.
Being a fully-fledged adult, you will probably have forgotten all the nursey rhymes your mum sang to you as a child, but now may be the time to arm yourself with some bedtime songs for those nights when baby just won't drift off to sleep.
The family dynamic changes instantly when a new baby comes into the mix. Your partner now has a demanding little person vying for her attention 24 hours a day. This will take up a lot of her time and energy, so time as a couple may fall to the wayside initially. When you both feel the time is right, take up the offers of babysitting from family and friends and devote some time to each other, even if you only have the energy to relax on the sofa and watch a DVD.
Everyone will have warned you how exhausting the early days with baby will be, but nothing can really prepare you for the sleep deprivation after becoming a dad. Babies won't cry through the night forever, although it will feel that way at first. Your partner is no doubt suffering from sleep deprivation too, so if possible, help her out and do your fair share of the night feeds.
Babies grow fast, and it can seem as though time has flown by. You may find yourself keeping little keepsakes to look back on when baby is older, such as a lock of hair, a family photo album or framed imprints of baby's tiny hands and feet.
When your baby starts crawling, your home will suddenly seem like a minefield with dangers in every corner. You may need to come up with a baby proofing checklist to ensure your tot can explore his surroundings safely.
You've spent the entire evening bathing, feeding and dressing your little one and you've finally got them off to bed. Now it's time to feed yourself. The last thing you feel like doing is slaving over a hot stove for half an hour. You and your partner may find yourselves relying on quick and easy microwave meals, which aren't always the most nutritious. If you do want a healthier alternative, try finding some time to batch cook on the weekend, maybe when baby is napping. Soups, curries and stews all freeze well and mean you can have healthy homemade meals ready for the microwave when you're hungry and tired.
You may find yourself switching your mobile phone to video and eagerly recording every single sound and movement your child makes. You may even become 'that dad' who spams everyone on social media with endless photos and videos of your new bundle of joy. Go ahead, you will never regret having too many pictures of your child growing up.
Before your child came along, going shopping may have been a quick affair, but you may find that it now takes hours to finish what used to be a 5 minute trip to the shop. Social events will also become a strenuous endeavour. Have you got enough bottles to last until you get back? Enough baby food? Enough nappies? The list goes on...
Playtime is one of the most important ways that babies learn and develop, and it's also a great way to help dad bond with baby. Liberate your inner child and enjoy a few games of peek-a-boo or invent silly characters for baby's bedtime stories.
The first year of fatherhood is as amazing as it is challenging. Cherish the early days, enjoy the first smile, the first steps and the first words.
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