So you’re feeling pretty smug, huh? You sowed your seed (please, spare us the details, big guy). You’ve sat through childbirth classes, surfed a couple of parenting Web sites, maybe even started taking mental notes when Marge Simpson changes Maggie’s diaper.
But you, sir, are no father. Not yet, anyway. Not until you master the real-world skills presented here — hard-earned tricks of the trade that will wow your wife, blow your friends’ minds, astonish your pediatrician and make it all look easy.
BEFORE THE BIRTH
Amazing dad skill: Make your very pregnant wife more
comfortable — instantly!
Schlepping around the extra weight of a baby and all its carry-on baggage (placenta, amniotic fluid, etc.) can take its toll on any mama-to-be. Give her a quick pick-me-up using this tension-taming trick:
1. Standing behind her, slide your left foot back a half-step or so for extra stability.
2. Reaching around the front of her, cup your hands below her belly and lift gently.
3. Have her lean back onto you, taking some of the weight off.
4. Hold the pose for five minutes. Hold your tongue, too — comments like “Wow, I can’t believe how much weight you’ve gained!” will spoil the moment.
Amazing dad skill: Whittle a crib from a single piece of wood!
“You can carve a canoe from a single piece of wood, but a crib is more complicated,” says master carpenter Norm Abram, host of the PBS woodworking program
The New Yankee Workshop. “You’re probably better off with power tools.” Whether you’re making a simple toy or a complete bedroom set, he also advises woodworking dads-to-be to start early and keep the design simple.
Abram suggests checking your design against Consumer Product Safety Commission(www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/ pubs/chld_frn.html) standards for such features as slat spacing, toy-chest lid design and the like. You can also buy child-safe hardware kits at woodworking stores and through catalogs. Finally, when choosing a finish, even if you’re just painting or refinishing, call the manufacturer to make sure it’s child-safe. “And make sure the finish is completely cured before you use the toy or furniture,” Abram adds.
Amazing dad skill: Install a car seat with your eyes closed!
Fully 85 percent of child seats are used improperly, says Heather Paul, executive director of the National Safe Kids Campaign. “The most common mistake is that the car seat belt isn’t holding the infant seat tightly enough,” she says. “The seat shouldn’t be able to move more than an inch in either direction.” To crank it down tight, use your knee to put as much weight as possible on the seat or base (this is where you can close your eyes). Then snug the belt tight, keeping the car seat angled at 45 degrees. Later, when it’s time to ferry your progeny home, snug the harness straps until you can’t fit more than one finger between the harness and the baby’s collar bone, Paul recommends. Put the blankets over the harness, not under it.