Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What Can Daddy Do?

Fatherhood is changing.

I’ve said it a million times before and now I’m living it. Today’s dads, as a general rule, are more involved in their children’s lives than ever before.

This ‘involvement’ shows itself in a number of ways – shared parenting duties, daddy blogs, daddy playgroups, stay at home dads… the list goes on. That being said, I can see how and why our fathers took a back seat in parenting.

My initial parenting plan was to be able to do everything P.Pie does and share those responsibilities. That was a great plan. Really.

But the truth is, there are some things I Just. Can’t. Do. And they’re pretty important bonding things.

Like breastfeeding.

Don’t misunderstand; I can feed babies from a bottle – I have before and I will again.

But it’s just not the same.

And it’s not really a part time job – 15-30+ minutes every 2-4 hours. So, when you spend that much time bonding, you naturally wind up sort of taking over the lead parenting role.

You don’t really want to give up your parenting role, but the mom looks so happy with the baby that you can’t bear to take it away from her.

I noticed this bonding thing happening in my home, so I decided I was going to counter it with an equally bonding skill. But what’s a dad to do?

You need a skill that comes naturally; something that you’ve probably practiced for a very long time, something that you’ve done your entire life.

After some quick thinking, I had the answer. Belching. Or, if you’re trying to talk your wife into it, call it ‘burping’.

Baby taking a break between boobs? Give’em a burp. A little fussy after laying down for a while? A burp could be the answer.

In the last seven days, I have gotten the ‘burp’ down pat (so to speak).

You may say that anyone can burp a baby – lay them on your shoulder and pat, right? Au contraire, mon ami!

Just as you learned that gulping you soda caused long, wet, bass-filled belches and swallowing air gave dry, quick burp, there is also an art to burping a baby.

For my daughter, she burps better if she is facing a little past noon with leaning attitude of several degrees and several firm pats, starting just above the butt and working upwards, nearly to the nape of the neck.

Of course, that’s my baby girl. My boy, when he comes home from the NICU, will be different, just as your baby will be different.

It takes some practice, but it’s well worth it.

The first time your wife hands you the baby and says, “Burp her, I can’t do as good as you,” you’ll know the value of your elementary school playground education.