The New Father: A Dad's Guide to the First Yearby Armin A. Brott, Armin Brott
Faced with the myriad challenges of fatherhood, new dads everywhere have come to rely on the wit and wisdom of Armin A. Brott. With more than 1 million copies in print, his highly praised fatherhood series has become the essential resource. In this significantly updated, revised, and expanded handbook, the award-winning author offers even more advice and encouragement and wider coverage to help new dads everywhere become effective, involved fathers. Incorporating a wealth of knowledge from top experts, the latest scientific research, and the author's and other fathers' personal experiences, The New Father presents invaluable information and practical tips. Illustrated with delightful cartoons that underscore the joys and challenges of parenting, The New Father: A Dad's Guide to the First Year is an essential resource for every dad. It's sure to give every mom a lot of fresh insights as well.
Brott ("Ask Mr. Dad" column) updates The New Father, now in its third edition, with a month-by-month look at baby development, supplemented with sections on what's going on with your partner and what you're going through as a father. Every topic relevant to infancy is addressed, including colic, breastfeeding, sleep, developmental milestones, and vaccines.The Expectant Father, coauthored with Ash (Tropical Style), is similarly arranged, with additional breakdowns of what's happening with the baby and staying involved. New in this fourth edition is expanded information on adoptive fathers, multiples, overcoming infertility, the ART (assistive reproductive technology) of fatherhood, and GI dads. The third edition is less than five years old, making this update optional. VERDICT These phone book-sized volumes are among the most comprehensive (changing a diaper takes ten steps and covers two pages) father-to-be books. Brott's pleasing style steers clear of the caveman humor usually associated with "from dude to dad" texts.
Read an Excerpt
Nobody really knows how or when it started, but one of the most widespreadand most cherishedmyths about childrearing is that women are naturally more nurturing than men, that they are instinctively better at the parenting thing, and that men are nearly incompetent.
The facts, however, tell a very different story. A significant amount of research has proven that men are inherently just as nurturing and responsive to their children's needs as women. What too many men (and women) don't realize is that to the extent that women are "better" parents, it's simply because they've had more practice. In fact, the single most important factor in determining the depth of long-term father-child relationships is opportunity. Basically, it comes down to this: "Having children makes you no more a parent than having a piano makes you a pianist," writes author Michael Levine in Lessons at the Halfway Point.
"In almost all of their interactions with children, fathers do things a little differently from mothers," writes researcher David Popenoe. "What fathers dotheir special parenting styleis not only highly complementary to what mothers do, but by all indications important in its own right for optimum childrearing."
Not surprisingly, then, fathers have very different needs from mothers when it comes to parenting information and resources. But nearly every book, video, seminar, and magazine article on raising kids has been geared specifically to women and to helping them acquire the skills they need to be better parents. Fathers have been essentially ignoreduntil now.
How This Book Is Different
Because babies develop so quickly, most booksaimed at parents of infants (babies from birth through twelve months) are broken down by month. The same goes here. But while the majority of parenting books focus on how babies develop during this period, the primary focus of The New Father: A Dad's Guide to the First Year is on how fathers develop. This is an approach that has rarely, if ever, been tried. Each of the chapters is divided into three major sections:
What's Going On with the Baby
This section is designed to give you an overview of the four major areas of your baby's development: physical, intellectual, verbal, and emotional/social. A lot of what a man experiences as a father is directly related to, or in response to, his children. So knowing the basics of their growth will help put your own growth into better perspective. Please remember, however, that all babies develop at different rates and that the range of "normal" behavior is very wide. If your baby isn't doing the things covered in the predicted month, don't worry. But if he is six months behind, check with your pediatrician.
What You're Going Through
Because the experience of fatherhood has largely been ignored in parenting books, many men think the feelings they are having are abnormal. In this section we examine at length what new fathers go through and the ways they grow and developemotionally and psychologicallyover the course of their fatherhood. You're a lot more normal than you think.
You and Your Baby
This section gives you all the tools you need to understand and create the deepest, closest possible relationship with your childeven if you have only half an hour a day to spend with her. In this section we cover topics as diverse as play, music, reading, discipline, and temperament.
A number of the chapters feature a "Family Matters" section in which we discuss a variety of issues that will have a major impact not only on you but also on your family as a whole. Topics include dealing with crying, postpartum depression (which men get too!), childproofing, family finances, and finding appropriate child care.
Why Get Involved?
First, because it's good for your kids. "Everything we know shows that when men are involved with their children, the children's IQ increases by the time they are six or seven," says pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton. Brazelton adds that with the father's involvement "the child is also more likely to have a sense of humor, to develop a sort of inner excitement, to believe in himself or herself, to be more motivated to learn."
In contrast, a father's emotional distance can have a profound negative impact. "Research clearly demonstrates the direct correlation between father absence and higher rates of aggressive behavior in sons, sexually precocious behavior in daughters and more rigid sex stereotypes in children of both sexes," writes Dr. Louise B. Silverstein of New York University.
Second, it's good for you. A mountain of research has shown that fathers who are actively involved with their children are more likely to be happily married and are more likely to advance in their careers. "Being a father can change the ways that men think about themselves," writes Ross Parke, one of the major fatherhood researchers. "Fathering often helps men to clarify their values and to set priorities. It may enhance their self-esteem if they manage its demands and responsibilities well, or alternatively, it may be unsettling and depressing by revealing their limitations and weaknesses. Fathers can learn from their children and be matured by them."
Third, being an involved father is good for your partner and for your marriage. Division of labor issues are the number one marital stressor, and the more support mothers get from their husbands, the happier they are in their marriages and the better they perform their parenting duties. Men whose partners are happy in their marriages tend to be happier themselves. And men who are happy in their marriages are generally more involved in their fathering role. It just never ends; and there's no reason why it should.
A Note on Terminology
He, She, It
In the not so distant past (the present, too, really) parenting books, in which the parent is assumed to be the mother, almost always referred to the baby as "he." While there's an argument to be made that in English the male pronoun is sort of a generic term, I'm pretty sensitive to issues of gender neutrality. And as the father of two girls, I wanted to see at least an occasional "she," just to let me know that what was being said might actually apply to my children. But as a writer, I find that phrases like "his or her," "he or she," and especially "s/he" make for cumbersome reading and awkward sentences. The solution? I decided simply to alternate between "he" and "she" as often as possible. Except in a few specific cases (circumcision, for example), the terms are interchangeable.
Your Partner in Parenting
In the same way that calling all babies "he" discounts the experience of all the "shes" out there, calling all mothers "wives" essentially denies the existence of the many, many other women who have children: girlfriends, lovers, live-in companions, fiancees, and so on. So, to keep from making any kind of statement about the importance (or lack of importance, depending on how you feel) of marriage, I refer to the mother of your child as your "partner," as we did in The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be.
If Some of This Sounds a Little Familiar...
If you read The Expectant Father (and if you didn't, it's not too late), you may notice that there's some overlap between the end of that book and the early part of this book. I assure you that this repetition of material is less the result of laziness on my part than of the necessity born of having to cover several of the same important topics in both books.
What This Book Isn't
While there's no doubt that this book is filled with information you can't get anywhere else, it is not intended to take the place of your pediatrician, financial planner, or lawyer. Naturally, I wouldn't suggest that you do anything I wouldn't do (or haven't done already). Still, before blindly following my advice, please check with an appropriate professional.
From Chapter One: 1 Week: Coming Home
What's Going on with the Baby
o Although most of your newborn's physical capabilities are run by a series of reflexes (see pages 38-43), she does have some control over her tiny body.
o She can focus her eyesfor a few seconds, at leaston an object held 8 to 10 inches from her face, and she may be able to move her head from side to side.
o She probably won't each much for the first 24 hours, but after that, she'll want 7 to 8 feedings each day.
o She seems to be doing everything at an accelerated pace: at 33 breaths and 120 heartbeats/minute, her metabolism is moving about twice as fast as yours.
o Her intestines are moving even faster: she'll urinate as many as 18 times and move those brand-new bowels 4 to 7 times every 24 hours.
o Needing to recover from all that activity, it's no surprise that she spends 80 percent of her time asleep, taking as many as 7 to 8 naps a day.
o Right from birth, your baby is capable of making a number of intellectual decisions.
o If she hears a sound, she can tell whether it's coming from the right, left, or straight ahead.
o She can distinguish between sweet and sour (preferring sweet, like most of us).
o She also has a highly developed sense of smell. At seven days, she'll be able to tell the difference between a pad sprinkled with her own mother's milk and one from another mother.
o She prefers simple patterns to complex ones and the borders of objects (such as your jaw or hairline) to the inner details (mouth and nose).
o She can't, however, differentiate herself from the other objects in her world. When she grasps your hand, for example, her little brain doesn't know whether she's holding her own hand or yours.
o At this point, most of the vocal sounds your baby produces will be cries or animal-like grunts and squeaks.
o Although she's alert and comfortable for only 30 or so minutes out of every 4 hours, your baby is already trying to make contact with you.
o When she hears a voice or other noise, she'll become quiet and try to focus.
o She's capable of showing excitement and distress, and will probably be quiet when you pick her up.
What You're Going Through
Comparing How You Imagined the Birth Would Go with How It Went
Let's face it: every expecting couple secretly (or not so secretly) hopes for a pain-free, twenty-minute labor, and nobody ever really plans for a horrible birth experience. Even in childbirth education classes, if the instructor talks at all about the unpleasant things that can happen, she usually refers to them as "contingencies"a word that makes it seem as though everything is still under control.
If your partner's labor and delivery went according to plan, chances are you're delighted with the way things turned out and you're oohing and ahhing over your baby. But if there were any problemsinduced labor, an emergency C-section, a threat to your partner's or your baby's lifeyour whole impression of the birth process may have changed. It's not unusual in these cases to blame the baby for causing your partner so much physical pain and you so much psychological agony. It can happen easily, without your really being aware of it.
So pay close attention during the first few weeks to how you're feeling about your baby. And if you find yourself being angry or resentful of her, or thinking or saying thingseven in jestsuch as "All the pain is the baby's fault," or (as I did) "The baby had jammed herself in there sideways and refused to come out," try to remember that no matter how brilliant and talented you think your baby is, she was a completely passive player in the entire process. Giving in to the temptation to blame your baby for anything at this point can seriously interfere with your future relationship together.
The Brief "Is This Really My Baby?" Phase
The first thing I did after both my daughters were born was make sure they had two arms and legs, and ten fingers and toes. Once all limbs and extremities were accounted for, I quickly looked over both my daughters to see whether they had "my" nose or chin.
Later on, I felt a little guilty about thatafter all, shouldn't I have been hugging and kissing my daughters instead of giving them a full-body inspection? Maybe, but as it turns out, that's what almost all new fathers do within the first few minutes after the birth of their babies. "They immediately look for physical similarities to validate that the child was theirs," says researcher Pamela Jordan. And this happens for a reason: for almost all new fathersregardless of how many of their partner's prenatal doctor appointments they went to, how many times they heard the baby's heartbeat or saw him squirm around on an ultrasound, and how many times they felt him kickthe baby isn't "real" until after the birth, when father and baby have a chance to meet each other face to face. "Seeing the infant emerge from his mate's body through vaginal or cesarean birth is a powerful experience for each father," writes Jordan. "Birth proved that this infant had been the growth within the mother's abdomen."
As it turns out, only one of my daughters has "my" chin, and it's looking like both of them will go through life without my nose (and, hopefully, the accompanying sinus problems). But what I really found disheartening at the time was that neither of them shared the Brott family webbed toes (it isn't all that noticeable, but it helps my swimming immeasurably).
Babies hardly ever look exactly as you imagined they would before they were born. And being disappointed about a nose, a chin, or even some toes is something you'll get over soon enoughespecially when you discover in a few weeks that the baby does have something of yours (they always do).
But what if the baby has a penis or a vagina when you were expecting the opposite? Getting a boy when you expected a girl, or vice versa, can be a real shock. "When one's fantasy is not fulfilled, there is a period of regret for what might have been," writes Ellen Galinsky, head of the Work and Family Institute. "And this unhappiness can stand in the way of the parents' reaching out, accepting the baby."
Fortunately, things don't have to be this way. The conflict between fantasy and reality, says Galinsky, "can also be the trigger point for growthone can either stay still, hang onto the old feeling, or one can change."
At Long Last, Reality
At some point not long after the baby is born, just about every new father gets hit with a sharp jolt of reality: he's a father, with new responsibilities, new pressures, new expectations to live up to. For some new fathers, this seemingly basic epiphany comes early, before they leave the hospital. For others, reality may not hit for a few days. But whenever it happens, a new father's realization that his life has changed forever can have some interesting results.
Only a day after the birth of his daughter, Hannah, Ken Canfield pulled into his driveway. "I . . . stared out through the windshield at the wooden steps leading up into our house," he writes in The Heart of a Father. "The steps were rickety. One board was a little rotten on one end, and the rusty nails had gouged their way to the surface. Another board had warped up off the supports. I had never given any thought to those steps before... but the thought occurred to me that in less than 48 hours, a new mother carrying a new baby would be climbing those rickety stairs. So, exhausted as I was, with blood-shot eyes and the aroma of my sleepless hospital visit about me, I got out the power saw, some wood, a handful of nails, a square, and a hammer. For the next three hours I built steps."
Meet the Author
Armin A. Brott: Armin A. Brott has devoted the last 15 years to providing men with the tools, support, and knowledge to help them become the fathers they want to beand their families need them to be. His seven critically acclaimed books for fathers have sold well over a million copies. Titles include The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be and The New Father: A Dad’s Guide to the First Year. He has written on fatherhood for hundreds of newspapers and magazines and is a frequent guest on such television programs as the Today Show. He also writes a nationally syndicated newspaper column (Ask Mr. Dad), and hosts a syndicated radio show (Positive Parenting). He lives with his family in Oakland, California.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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With a new bundle of joy on the way and never really even holding a baby let alone been around them much, I decided to read up a little. From the myriad of choices covering a baby's first year, the vast majority are primarily focused on the mother or are more humorous than informative (the caveman themed one comes to mind). I wanted a book that was free of gimmicks yet focused on fathers and this one seemed to fit the bill. Not yet being a father, I can't say how useful the book actually is in practice yet. However, I did find the book to be informative and comprehensive. While it is impossible to be fully prepared just from reading a book, I beleive I at least have a feel for some of what to expect. The first chapter of the book coveres just a little bit of the birth and the first week. Each subsequent chapter covers a month. Each chapter follows the same pattern. The chapter will start with where the baby is in his development physicall, verbally, and emotionally. The next section covers what the father typically experiences. Following that is a section discussing what the mother is going through. Finally, the chapter will often end with some other important topic such as insurance, child care, traveling with an infant, etc. Scattered throughout the book and in the appendix are a plethora of resources such as lists of books suitable for reading to the baby, links to baby sign language programs, baby massage, father's groups, life insurance info, immunizations, child care, and more. The author's writing style is humorous and the tone is anything but patronizing. However, there are a few flaws. At least one whole section of the book was repeated verbatum. Other information was repeated more than once though at least it wasn't verbatum (e.g. the list of books to read to the baby). Over all this is a solid book and I'm happy to have read it. In sixteen months or so I might come back and update this review once I have a chance to put it into practice. As it stands, I would highly recommend this book to expectant first time fathers.
This book is a great resource to being a new father. Thank you to the author for all insight & tips!
Full of excellent advise and helpful information. I recommend this book to any father.
This book was EXACTLY what my husband was looking for in a '1st year' book - realistic, practical, and very informative... from a man's point of view. This author really hits the mark with this book and with his Dads-to-be book, which is also excellent. (see my review there)
My dad gave me this book before my son as 6 months old so I put it away. He's now 20 months and I've found it again. I'm so glad! I feel like I can contribute more to the discussions my wife and I have about our son. I think she enjoys not being the only one that has a clue about what's going on with him developmentally. More than that, it's great to read about parenting from another dad. Most books like this don't deal with things like wills and college planning. Brott does AND makes it interesting. I've read alot of parenting books but it's great to compliment those with the breadth of Brott's overview and insights.
I bought this book for my husband, who has never had a baby (I have) And it helped him out so much, it goes month by month. It;s great they finally have something for the men noe. Id advise you to buy it,