Friday, 26 July 2013

Dadism: What Can I Do With My Baby?

Babies are hard work. If you've only had one or only having one I guess I should say right now, it gets better. Not only the sleepless nights, the teething and your house turning into a war-zone but the frustration that, as a Dad, there isn't a whole lot you can do for these little creatures at the beginning. Babies need their Mothers and for the first few weeks you'll merely be someone who walks up and down the hallway with them trying to get them to sleep.

But slowly they will develop and all of a sudden they notice you're there. It's pretty awesome. You'll get a smile and a bit of interaction and all of a sudden the fun begins.

It's often frustrating when they are so young because you can't take them fly-fishing or teach them how to use a chainsaw, so some of your skills might be lost on them. When they are at this stage it's hard to know what you should be doing with them. How do you entertain them? How can you build a relationship with these little creatures?

The number one thing I have found is: talking to them works wonders. Sit in front of them, or hold them and talk to your baby. Not only are you getting them used to your voice, you're getting them used to your presence. Provided you're not doing your best Pinhead impression, they will start to associate your voice (and face) with security. If Dad is there talking to me, I know things will be alright. It's pretty simple stuff.

Once they get older and start to sit upright and hold on to things, they aren't quite at the teaching them your golf swing stage, but they're certainly a lot more interactive than those first few months. This is a cool time. This is when you can do things like passing them objects and saying 'ta'. This is the most basic game but you could do this all day and your baby will love it. Babies love repetition.

I find once you get to about 10-11 months you can start doing things like sitting them on your knee and holding them under the armpits and pretending they are slipping off your knee and then 'rescuing' them back on to your knee. I don't know why, but all my children have found this to be hilarious. Or pretending to drop them but actually having a firm grip on them. With the right voice and mock surprise, they love it. I imagine as well as being a pretty entertaining game, you're teaching them to trust you. If Dad is holding on to me, he'll protect me and stop me from falling. I have no doubt that this lesson carries on to later life.

Needless to say, please be careful with your baby. Writing about pretending to drop your baby is probably courting controversy but I trust that you are sensible enough to know what is right and what will cause brain damage.

The take away lesson from all of this is that having a presence is the best thing you can do with your baby. Talk to them, smile at them, sing to them, hold them and dance with them. Act the fool and laugh with them. It all adds up to them hearing your voice, seeing your face, smelling your smell and learning that Dad is fun and safe and makes me feel happy.

Many Dads are at a loss with what to do with their baby. The truth is, the cool things like playing pinball with them or staying up to watch the All Blacks doesn't happen for quite a few years. So lay those foundations and get in while their brains are soaking up all this new information. Make sure they associate Dad with fun times and you'll be away laughing.

Have fun!


  1. This is a really lovely post!

  2. Great post! I shared it on a facebook page I write for, so hopefully you'll be getting some South African readers coming by.