The good, the bad and the smelly – life as a new dad

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Being a new dad can be the best and the scariest experience. Here Mark Woods offers some humorous insights into the whys and wherefores of being a new father.

The first cry:

Chances are your baby will have cried in hospital, it may have even cried the moment its little head hit the air, but there is often a moment once you’ve got home when for the very first time you and your partner are witness to your immediate future.

The truth is crying is designed solely to grab your attention, and evolution, as it has a habit of doing, has engineered it so the noise is as effective as possible at doing just that.

So powerful is it in fact that some women can lactate just by hearing a cry and it doesn’t even have to emanate from their baby! So don’t worry if crying gets to you, it’s meant to. Your job is to try and work out what has caused the cry and remedy it – the term “easier said than done” could well have been coined in response to this very situation. The stress this can cause, especially when you throw in chronic fatigue, is not to be underestimated. Working as a team to help each other out is crucial but if you are on your own, take deep breaths, remember that your baby is doing all it knows how to do and that it will pass. Honestly.

The First Nasty Nappy Change

Whoever does the PR for nappy changing needs a talking to, it’s not that bad.

Welcome to the three Ps – Preparation Prevents Pootastrophy. A fully-stocked changing table is a beautiful thing because once you open the Pandora’s box of a full nappy, putting a lid back on it again while you try and find some baby wipes is not an easy thing to do.

The fear of your little one getting their hands in their own doings as you do the clean up, lives with all of us at every nappy change. If it happens, you are in the lap of the gods, as what is essentially a dirty protest unfolds before your very eyes.

Perhaps the best thing to do is just revel in your baby’s creativity as she cave paints all over your white wall or especially if you have a boy, creates a charming water feature right there in your living room.

You’re not truly a dad until you have a face full of something nasty.

The First Smile

Your baby’s first proper social smile can occur as early as four weeks post birth – and after the month or so you and your partner will likely have had, a little bit of a reward will be gratefully received. As ever the timings of this joyous happening can vary a lot, so don’t worry that you have spawned a mini-Morrissey if you don’t get belly laughs when you’re expecting them. If, though, you are lucky enough to see a smile even earlier than the four week mark, don’t let any sour faced fool dismiss it as wind – smile right back and let the love in.

The First Cold

Babies are full of snot. For what seems like months they snort and snuffle their way through the night and make you sit bolt upright time after time as they seemingly struggle to breathe.

Then they get a cold. What you thought was bad, was in fact nasal normality and now they have the snuffles, plus an infection and it knocks them for six.

You watch helplessly as their tiny nose streams and their little pigeon chest heaves. And what can you do to help? Not much, unfortunately.

Words of wisdom from dads

Despite having scaled mountains and crossed deserts Mark Woods’ biggest challenge to date has been the arrival of his two young sons.

As Head of Creative at Comic Relief, Mark has climbed Kilimanjaro and crossed the Kenyan Desert, but all these were child’s play compared to child rearing.Following his first book, Pregnancy for Men, Mark has put pen to paper for a second installment, Babies and Toddlers for Men – from newborn to Nursery.

Through a combination of personal experience and interviews with a whole host of dads, Mark draws together words of sage advice and comfort from those who have been there before. But it’s not just fatherhood that comes under the microscope – the huge changes which a newborn brings to the relationship between its parents are also looked at.

Babies and Toddlers for Men – from newborn to nursery by Mark Woods is published by White Ladder Press £10.99