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Published: Friday December 5, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday December 10, 2014 MYT 1:57:43 PM

5 things I've learnt in five months as a new dad

Fatherhood is a constant learning experience, as this new dad discovers.

Look, we’re hairstyle buddies: The writer and his five-month-old daughter.
Look, we’re hairstyle buddies: The writer and his five-month-old daughter.

My baby daughter turned five months old last week. These five months have been a roller coaster ride for my wife and I. We’ve learnt that it doesn’t matter how many books you read or how much advice you get from your friends or family – you will never be truly ready to be a parent.

Becoming a father for the first time has taught me so much, and it also made me realise how much more I need to learn about taking care of my daughter. Yes, people have been telling me that we have barely started the journey (by the way, I know you mean well, but telling me that it gets worse later simply DOES NOT HELP, folks), and some have even told me we’re doing it wrong.

One thing I do know for sure though, these past five months have taught me quite a bit about myself, and I’ve learnt that there are things I never knew I could do. 

So, here are five things I learnt in the five months I’ve been a father. It’s not exactly professional advice though, but hey, you can get that from books, right?

1. How to carry a baby

Let me tell you about the first time I carried my baby. I was PETRIFIED. I don’t think I’ve ever been as scared doing something in my whole life, and that includes jumping out of a plane while strapped to a total stranger. What if I dropped her? What if I squeezed too hard and accidentally broke her arm or her foot? What if I didn’t support her neck properly and it just flopped back too hard?

You see, before my daughter was born, I had never carried a baby for more than five seconds. I was always too afraid of them crying once I held them, or them squirming out of my grasp and falling to the floor, so I generally tried as hard as possible to NOT hold babies. Still, NOT holding my own baby wasn’t an option, so slowly, I started to learn. And eventually, it grew to a point when holding her has became one of the joys of my day, and I was finding any excuse at all to pick her up and cuddle her.

2. How to use other parts of my body

While we’re on the subject of holding babies, I also discovered that I could do quite a number  of things even when both my hands were occupied – I could turn on light switches with my forehead, press elevator buttons with my knees and elbows, pick up my phone with my toes... now all I need to learn is how to prepare a milk bottle with my teeth, and I’m all set. Who needs hands, eh?

3. How to do housework really quickly

When you’ve got a baby around the house, it naturally becomes a bit more complicated to juggle the things you used to do and take for granted when baby-less. This includes housework.

Since we could not afford the luxury of hiring a maid, and I was pretty much useless when it comes to breastfeeding, I eventually had to learn the most efficient and fastest way to keep the house from falling apart. 

I’ve learnt to mop the entire condo in 15 minutes, hang a load of laundry in five, and even cook dinner while preparing her milk bottle at the same time. And all this within the 15-60 minutes of free time I had while my wife was either breastfeeding the baby or bathing her.

4. How to entertain a baby

When I was a baby, my father used to tell me his own made-up stories of a Dirty Tortoise who lived at the bottom of a market. I now have renewed respect for my dad because I never knew how hard it was to make up those stories until I tried to do so with my baby. Eventually, I gave up and started telling her the plots from Star Wars and Lord Of The Rings, minus all the killing and decapitating, of course.

On that note, singing to the baby came a lot easier to me. It was a lot easier to make up lyrics than stories, and soon I was pretty much singing any song I could think of to her – from Guns n’ Roses’ Don’t Cry to The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine. I also discovered that the tune to Jingle Bells can be adapted into lullabies and songs about feeding time. Altogether now! “Hun-hun-gry, hun-hun-gry, baby is hungry…”

5. How to put a baby to sleep

Actually, scratch that, I still have no idea how to put a baby to sleep without handing her over to her mother to breastfeed her into submission. 

The few times I managed to do so, I have no idea how I did it. Maybe she was just too tired, maybe she was full from feeding, or maybe she was just lulled into boredom with the endless loop of Jingle Bells I kept whispering into her ear ... either way, don’t ask me how to put a baby to sleep. 

Hey, give me a break, I’ve only been doing this father thing for five months, ok?

Tags / Keywords: Family Community, Parents Post, babies, family, fatherhood

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