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Your First Time Home Alone With Baby

Dale Kiefer


So you think you're ready to spend the day alone with your newborn. Or rather, your wife -- however reluctantly -- is ready to allow you to assume full responsibility for the baby for the first time.

Men have been doing it for years. At least five, by my reckoning. Your own father may even have spent some quality time with you when you were a baby. Of course, he was probably home sick at the time, but at least there's some precedent. Rest assured, modern dads are indeed capable of caring for their infants without the help of a female. At least for short periods.

To tell you the truth, it's not all that hard. There are just a few things to remember. First, be sure you have a phone, pager, fax, beeper or cell phone number where your wife (or mother) can be reached in an emergency - such as when the baby pees on you for the first time. Second, stock up on supplies: diapers, formula/ breast milk, burp cloths, age-appropriate toys, baby wipes and at least twelve clean outfits, for starters. Seek instruction in the safe and correct operation of same.

Third (and by far, most important): Don't plan to "accomplish" anything while you are caring for your infant -- other than caring for your infant. This can't be emphasized enough. As men, we tend to feel uncomfortable with "free time". If we're not mowing the lawn, puttering in the workshop, or at work, we can't shake the feeling that we're wasting valuable time. Trust me. Now's definitely not the time to repair that leaky faucet. Save it for another day. Today, your baby must take precedent.

Granted, this is a tall order. The impulse to do something more than sit, rock, feed, diaper and rock some more will likely be irresistible. But you'll only set yourself up for disappointment and frustration if you don't resolve to "accomplish" nothing more (and nothing less) than caring for your infant.

Fortunately there'll be plenty to occupy your attention, as long as you're actually paying attention. Look at this as a precious opportunity to bond with your baby. Learn his moods, and experience her schedule on her terms. Explore the world together through his new eyes. Unless your infant happens to have colic you'll probably find the experience tiring, but highly rewarding. Resist the urge to install a new ceiling fan when your baby naps. Instead, read a magazine or the newspaper. Relax, and be prepared to greet your newborn upon her awakening.

The rest is easy. Before you know it you'll be an old hand at feeding your baby and changing her diapers (it's not that hard). Feeding -- especially if your infant is still on liquids -- can be particularly rewarding. There's something empowering about providing directly for your baby's primal needs. You may even glimpse the special privilege your wife enjoys as Chief Provider of Milk, and Primary Giver of Comfort.

Just as it takes two to Tango, it takes two to raise a healthy, well-loved child. Now's your chance to jump into the game. If you can pull this first time off, you may never get benched. And then everybody wins.

Dale Kiefer is a free-lance writer living in northern New Jersey with his wife and two young sons. Born in New Jersey some 40 years ago, Dale was raised in Kentucky, where he spent most of his life, graduating from the University of Kentucky with a degree

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