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Alright, Dads, it’s time to let the cat out of the bag. We know it’s true, and the moms out there should know, as well. Dads are worriers. I know many moms out there probably won’t believe this. They see us as doers or fixers. They know when they come to us with a problem, we’re not just going to lend a sympathetic ear. We’re going to try to do something to fix it. It’s just our nature, and I’m not denying it. What women don’t see is that we like to fix things because we don’t want to worry about it. If we take care of it, that’s one less worry on our plate. With that in mind, let’s look at the top worries dads have regarding babies, and, right or wrong, how we take care of the problem so we don’t have to worry. If anything, it will give women insight as to why we do the things we do.
1) Dropping the baby – I know this sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. Guys can hold onto a football while going to the ground with two 300 pound linemen landing on them, but holding onto a baby just isn’t the same. We don’t want to squish them, so we hold them gingerly with our fingertips. There is constant worry that the slightest wiggle could result in them falling to the floor. The last thing we want is for the baby to have a concussion. Maybe Mom should just take the baby back – problem solved!
2) Breaking bones – Babies are fragile. We get that, but we don’t know how to deal with it, especially when it comes to dressing them. Getting a onesie on requires either a Master’s degree in physics or a shoe horn. Their arms don’t line up with the sleeves, their heads are too big for the neck hole, and their toes and fingers get caught and bend the wrong way. Every step of the process is another chance for part of the baby to snap off like a twig. Maybe the baby doesn’t need clothes – problem solved!
3) Diaper changes – There are two main reasons we worry about diaper changes, neither of which have to do with poop and pee ending up on the floor, walls, or us. We can accept that’s just going to happen, and we’re not worried about cleaning up that part of the mess. Instead, the first worry with the diaper change is cleaning all of the poop off of the baby. It is nearly impossible to find all of that poop hiding in all the nooks and crannies of that baby fat. Every subtle move means more rolls that conceal more poop. You just can’t find it all. And if the baby is a girl, we are at a total loss. How can you get the girl parts all clean?!? The second worry comes from trying to put a fresh diaper on. Too loose and they leak. Too tight, and it could cut off circulation and the baby’s legs will fall off. Maybe we’ll just pretend we don’t smell anything and hand the baby back to Mom – problem solved!
4) Giving a bath – So if we were unable to find all the poop we missed during the diaper change, now we get to try again while giving the baby a bath. Aside from the poop, we add in our worry of dropping the baby, which is compounded by adding water and soap. I’d rather carry a greased pig to the slaughterhouse. Also, now we’ve added the possibility of the baby drowning. They try to stick their faces in the water on purpose! Maybe a wet wipe is all we need here – problem solved!
5) Feeding the baby – If bath time gives pause for concern of drowning, feeding the baby causes five alarm worry. Let’s hold the baby at an awkward angle, fill their mouth with liquid, and cap it with a plastic nipple. Assuming the baby doesn’t gag and spit up everything it’s consumed, then you throw the poor thing on your shoulder and smack it’s back until it burps, or pukes down your arm, whichever comes first. Maybe the baby’s not that hungry and can make it until Mom gets home – problem solved!
6) Sleeping – Sleep is a lost art once a baby comes into the house. No one has enough time to sleep and everyone is overtired. When we dads are that exhausted, we can hit REM sleep in about 2.5 seconds if given the chance. The problem is that sometimes the only way to get a baby to settle is to lay with it or let it lay on you. We want nothing to do with co-sleeping near the baby or letting it sleep on us in the middle of the night, because we worry that if we nod off, we can roll over and crush the little thing. To top it off, they just wake up at the most inconvenient times and for inexplicable reasons. Then we have to guess. Is the baby wet? Hungry? Cold? Hot? Does the baby have gas? We have no way of knowing what’s going on, and we are no good at guessing at 1 am when we’re overtired to begin with. Maybe we’ll just pass the baby to Mom, because they have some sort of maternal instinct about these things – problem solved! Oh, and it’s been 2.5 seconds since I passed the baby off, Zzzzz.
7) Babyproofing – We dads are not overly cautious by design. We’re risk takers, but even we can recognize a safety first approach. However, with a baby in the house, it’s a safety first, second, and third kind of approach. Everything has to be checked and double checked. It’s not even about the cabinet latches, outlet covers, or securing bookshelves to the wall. Those types of projects fall right in our wheelhouse. The type of babyproofing we worry about is sweeping up crumbs off the floor so they don’t eat them,remembering to close the bathroom door so they don’t end up in the toilet, and keeping the cell phone out of reach so it doesn’t end up broken or calling China. You have to watch that baby like a hawk, but we’re not hawks. We’re very flawed human beings with inferior senses. That means it is impossible to watch the baby at all times, so why try? Maybe we’ll let Mom watch the baby, and we’ll get those gutters cleaned out – problem solved!
8) Driving somewhere – Why is this a problem? Let’s start with the car seat. It’s not too complicated, typically just a 5 point harness. That’s like hooking in a race car driver or a fighter pilot, we can handle the mechanics. The problem is that getting them buckled causes the same worries as changing clothes AND diapers; you’re going to have a kid with broken bones and their legs are going to fall off! Even if you do get them in and buckled, there are all the moms out there telling you how you did it wrong, “The chest clip is too low.” “That’s a little loose around the waist.” “Did you do the finger test” (Is that even a thing???). Assuming you get past the car seat police, you still have to drive somewhere – through town. I consider myself a careful driver, but I know there are crazy drivers out there. So you have to plan your route to encounter as little traffic as possible, even if that means going an extra 20 minutes out of the way each direction so that you can avoid the Interstate and those three busy shopping plazas. Maybe we don’t need groceries that badly, we can have tortillas and mayonnaise for dinner – problem solved!
9) College – College is expensive, and you only have 18 years to save up. And then there’s letting them live on campus. And what if they want to take their car? Then there’s making sure they have the grades they need. Oh, and what about insurance? …. OK, it’s not just college, but the entire future. Will they grow up to be responsible, compassionate adults? Can I teach them to be strong and independent? Am I capable of showing them right from wrong and how to stand up for what they believe in? These are the kinds of worries that keep us up at night. It starts when they’re babies and just snowballs until it causes paralysis. We are so afraid of doing it all wrong. We worry that we’re going to screw it all up, and that is the main reason we back out of handling things and let Mom cover the bulk of every single thing to do with babies. Maybe we won’t have to worry about the future if we let Mom handle the present – problem solved!
10) Being Liked – Despite, our seemingly hands off approach, we really do want to be involved. The problem is that it brings us face to face with our biggest worry; the baby might not like us. Mom had a nine month head start on bonding, and she shares something special with the baby we dads just can’t duplicate. That’s the main reason we’re quick to dump the baby back to Mom when it starts to cry, and we back off when something seems difficult. We don’t want the baby associating the bad things in its life with us or it might not want anything to do with us. Our way of fixing the problem is to avoid situations where there is the possibility of being disliked. Seems logical, right?
As time goes on, we dads do continue to grow and evolve. Once it’s clear the baby does like us (and it will, despite our worries) we’ll start taking on a more active role. We learn to jump in and help more often. We’ll eventually face each of those worries head on until there’s nothing left to worry about. We’ll even clean poop off of the girl parts.
What are your biggest worries with a baby? Please share!