If there’s one thing that everyone who has been handed a baby to keep understands, it’s that moment of panic that occurs when you realize you have no idea what you’re doing.
Most of us, though, will never stand in this man’s shoes; his friends died in a car accident, leaving him with sole custody of their 3mo daughter.
He’s alone, he’s got a baby he wasn’t prepared for and, since he has no other children, has no experience to rely on – but don’t worry. The internet has his back.
Here are 18 people swooping in with some very good advice.
18. Just breathe.
I am a dad with two girls.
They love forts, jungle gyms, trampolines, Mindcraft, helping me in the garage just as much as anything typically concerned girly.
Just do things, ANYTHING, together and she will absolutely love you for the time and you will be surprised how much you love being with her.
3 months is young so remember to breath for this first year. Once she is walking and talking it gets easier. Don’t forget to ask for help and get rest.
YOU GOT THIS!
Consider it your life’s purpose and you will live up to the honor that was bestowed upon you.
17. It’s as easy – and as hard – as that.
As a step-father (and someone who was adopted) all I can offer is love her for who she is, always let her know who her parents were.
A lot of it will come naturally, hopefully you have some friends or family that will help out
Raise her as if she was your daughter, teach her respect and values and she will turn out fine
16. Take her with you.
Take her places! Don’t stop doing the things you love, but include her if you can. Take her to the store, out to eat, go running in a jogging stroller (when she’s a teeny bit older).
Take her for walks and go on vacation with her! Kids soak up everything around them and activity tires them out so they sleep better. Good luck, Dad!
15. Just care.
All parents fail their children. You’re human so it’s inevitable to make mistakes. The difference between a good parent and a shitty one is if you care to try and improve and learn from your mistakes. There are lots of parents out there that just don’t care.
The fact that you care puts you ahead of a sizeable portion of people. You’re gonna be just fine.
Some fatherly advice… 1. They do sleep eventually 2. Crying is the only way they can communicate early on. They’re not screaming in your face just to piss you off. 3. Shower them with hugs, kisses and “I love you”s until the day you die.
14. This made me cry.
I have a three year old daughter. I’m a stay at home dad. This morning we watched some DC LEGO superhero movie (she said she loves Batman and Superman equally), and the day before she “pranked” me by painting my nails. Really she picked out the color and I did most of the painting, but she loves it.
When you’re able just spend time with her. When she’s having big feelings, let her. Let her know she’s allowed to feel whatever it is she feels, and let her know it’s okay. You’ll be there to comfort her. Love her and guide her. Always be kind.
At some point it will become old hat, and you’ll be frustrated and mad. That’s normal and okay. However you can’t take it out on her. When it happens to me, I explain what I’m feeling with my daughter and why. I’m frustrated with your behavior (never them, it’s what they’re doing) because you aren’t listening to me at the moment. That kinda thing.
Be honest. Kids are smart. And if you’re honest they’ll generally ask questions and just accept whatever you tell them. I have a nephew and two nieces that are adopted. It’s fairly obvious so it being a secret was never an option. However they are told (I assume they believe it) and treated like family. The fact they’re adopted means nothing for the most part. Might as well be bright red hair for all we care. They’re blood to us. That said we’re all honest about it if they ask.
If you have any questions or concerns my wife is pretty well educated on early childhood education. Between the two of us, I feel confident we can answer your questions.
Just being loving and kind will take you a long way.
13. Trust yourself.
It’s hard to imagine a more parental feeling than that fear that we’ll fail them. All of us feel that. You’ll be great because you want to be great and that will guide you.
I am so sorry for your loss. They must’ve loved and admired you very much to agree that you should take care of their daughter in their absence. Trust their judgement and your own.
12. Don’t worry about what’s girly.
Came here to say not to get hung up on what’s “girly”… I have three daughters, and they like all of the same messy outdoor shit, shooting, comic books/movies, etc. that I do.
Also, long hair (if she eventually grows it long) can be challenging. YouTube is your friend here.
You clearly have the love part covered, which is the most important part … you got this. As for feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing – no new parent knows what they’re doing.
We all felt the same way when we had our first kid.
11. Practical advice.
On the more formal side of things where I am there is a schedule of child health nurse & doctor visits, vaccinations etc. If that kind information hasn’t been transferred then it might be best to schedule a visit with her doctor to discuss what to do next. They will know what your local systems and have the most comprehensive records for the child.
For general parenting skills before our child arrived my partner and I took a 1 day class on what to expect in the first 6 months (further classes were available for 6-12, 12-24, etc). I found a few different non-profits operating in the parenting space offering similar classes in my area (these were very reasonably priced, with discounts available if the fees would be a hardship). Some people I have discussed this with say they took similar classes at their hospital. You will probably find that her doctor is able to make a few recommendations.
These classes are great at covering the essentials, and a few extra tips. But most importantly they provide the confidence that you know what the baby needs for everything to go right, and what to do when things go wrong. At three months old it can be hard to find a spare hour let alone a day but the value they would provide is immeasurable.
10. Sensible and true.
Keep her fed, but don’t over-feed.
Keep her clean and safe, but don’t drive yourself crazy.
Love her. Go absolutely nuts. You can’t love her too much. Hold her when she cries and set up her crib in your room if you feel like it will make things easier.
Be patient with yourself. You’re going to end up making mistakes. Kids are resilient. If you get to the end of your rope, it will do the baby no damage if you put her in your crib and go to the other end of the house with your headphones on for a few minutes to collect yourself.
The fact that you’re trying to figure all this out tells me that you will be a great dad!
9. Ask for advice.
Honestly, man, as long as you love her, you’ll never fail her.
Join some parenting groups on reddit and facebook. You don’t even have to post, but you’ll learn a lot by what you read. Having your mom along for the ride is already helping you a bunch because she raised you!
Never be afraid to ask her pediatrician, or, in the future, her teachers, for advice.
You’re doing a great thing and your friends would be so proud of you.
8. YouTube is your friend.
Sorry for your loss. Be as loving and open as you can, because she’s going to have questions you can’t answer but knowing you’re there for her will make a huge impact.
Also, look up YouTube videos about how to do hair and be ready to have a talk about menstruation around age 10. This includes having pads ready.
7. You can do it.
Congrats! You’re a dad.
Seriously, this is what being a dad feels like all the time. You just love them completely and want to make sure you don’t fail them in any way.
You’re on the right track. This is a tough situation, but you’re doing it. Just keep doing your best and letting her know you love her.
For some general tips…
Wipe front to back
Make use of that diaper cream. Use what works. I like the aquaphor diaper cream.
Get yourself a dad backpack. I like the one made by highspeeddaddy.
Amazon is awesome. Get their baby wipes.
Open up that next diaper pack only when you need to. Sizing up can happen quick, and you can return an unopened case of diapers.
Baby 411 is a pretty good book on baby stuff. PM me with your info and I’ll send you a copy. We got the pregnancy one and the baby one, it was great.
Don’t bother with an overly expensive baby monitor. I got a security camera on Amazon with baby crying detection for like $35. It’s awesome.
Honestly not much difference between boys and girls outside of wiping. And at toddler age, boys in my family are downright destructive beasts.
6. Talk about her parents.
You can tell her that her mommy and daddy died in a car accident but loved her sooo much and chose you to be her Daddy when she died. She will be hurt if this is kept secret and she finds out.
You can try to remember stories or qualities from your friends and record them or type them out so you won’t forget. When she is older you can give them to her, or tell them to her.
5. On girls.
Going along with wiping front to back, stay attuned if something goes wrong and she gets a UTI (urinary tract infection). It’s when bacteria from fecal matter ends up in the urethra. She’ll say she needs to pee constantly but nothing will come out. At that point take her to a walk-in and they can give her child-friendly antibiotics. (Also, anytime she needs antibiotics make sure she gets probiotics too – yogurt will be fine).
You can do this. The fact that you’re scared is a great sign that you will be a great father to her. Like many others have said, kids are resilient. Be open and honest with her as she grows up, learn from your mistakes and apologise when mistakes happen. You’ll be okay.
When you have rules and she asks why, take the time to explain it to her. Kids are more understanding and willing to follow rules if they know where it’s coming from.
This isnt pertinent now but as she grows up, remember that all girls face body issues and adequacy issues. When she comes to you with low self esteem, don’t brush it off and tell her not to worry about it, or that its silly to think about. Let her vent and keep telling her what a beautiful and smart and funny girl she is.
Girls also face growing up with misogyny. Luckily we live in a much better situation now where women are more respected than they once were, but she will still face it. Show her that how those boys treat her is wrong and that she doesn’t have to accept that from them. Show her that her opinion is just as important.
And when it comes to sex one day, have an open conversation with her where she’s not condemned for wanting it. Most girls have had parents tell them no sex before marriage, and so they felt like they couldn’t ask questions about it. They were shamed. Let her know it’s normal to want that but (if she’s young) she should wait because sex and emotions are tied together. Once you have that bond with someone as a girl/woman, it’s a lot harder to let the next person into your heart. Be open about all her questions, tell her how to be safe, dont condemn her out of fear of her getting hurt, but let her know the emotional toll sex can have.
4. One thing at a time.
Don’t think about all the future milestones. There are so many that it is very overwhelming if you do that. Luckily, nature makes it so that they usually only hit one major milestone at a time. Right now, focus on allowing her to try to roll over.
After that, focus on crawling (you can make it fun for her if you demonstrate crawling! That’s what my toddler did for the baby and it worked). After that, it’s tasting solid foods, then learning to walk, etc etc. Only focus on the milestones as they come.
By the time you need to teach her about menstruation, you’ll be more than ready and willing. You’ll be surprised how natural this parenting thing becomes (after the first very exhausting year). You got this.
3. It’s ok to be scared.
Just being scared to fail her is an indication you won’t.
I have an 18 month old daughter the only thing I want for her is to know love. That means to me always showing affection constantly.
Especially in the beginning it’s going to be hard I hope she doesn’t cry too much for you. But remember if she does and you feel like you’re going crazy just put her down and leave the room. She’ll be ok by herself for a minute while you collect yourself.
Give her lots of food I can’t believe how often this girl eats just like all the time.
2. Find your tribe.
First off I’m sorry for your loss, and you are a real life Hero. My advice is to look for any “mom and baby” groups in your area. It doesn’t matter that you are a single dad, you will be welcome to join.
I would start with community centres, gyms/yoga studios or even Churches if that’s your thing. Being around other people with babies will help you and your daughter. She needs to be socialized and you need to be around people who understand what you are going through.
Having a group of people you can talk to about baby things will be a huge help. Good luck!!
1. Take time for yourself.
Whilst alot of people here are talking about things you can do to look after her, something i would add is look after yourself also, your best-friend has just passed away, and looking after a child (especially a child that has just been handed to you without warning) can be very exhausting mentally.
There will probably be times when you break down crying and its ok to do so, just dont do it alone, be open with family and friends or a professional.
This is one of those times when you realize the world really is full of good people.
What advice would you have given this man? We can all use amazing parenting advice if you’ve got it!