by Bruce Linton, Ph.D.
At ten months your baby can begin to make the sounds for "mama" and "papa." This is an exciting time for both you and your baby. The routines of life may be a bit less chaotic and you may find that you can begin to try and plan a few outings. As a dad, dealing with the unpredictable aspects of the early years of parenting can test your patience. I like to view this period as a chance to learn what really being patient means. As you make plans for the day or the weekend and then find you have to make adjustments, you don't get a good night sleep, your baby has a tooth that is coming in or his first cold; how can you make adjustments and be flexible with your plans?
I remember how happy I would be when our son slept two nights in a row without waking up. I thought, finally we would get back to having a normal nights sleep. It seemed, just as I thought we had a "routine" established, I would find that the next night all would change. Throughout the first year I would be looking for a routine yet it seemed the only constant was change. At times I really felt like I was in a sleep deprivation experiment. I did find it helpful to talk to my wife about taking turns on certain nights so one of us could get a good night sleep or at least sleep-in, in the morning.
We are "trained" as men to be "in control." I have never felt as helpless to have a crying baby, which no matter what I did, I could not get to calm down. I think if your wife is breast feeding this can make it difficult for you. Often you know exactly what he needs to calm down, but don't have it! If you haven't integrated bottle feedings talk with your wife about the possibilities? Could she express breast milk and you give it to your baby in a bottle? Talk with your pediatrician about what kind of foods your baby can eat now. Get involved in the feedings. When you find you can respond to your child's need for food or to help him get to sleep, it dramatically improves your satisfaction and confidence as a father.
It is never too late, especially at ten months, to change your routine and find a more satisfying way to work on being a father. If you are feeling distant or removed from your wife or child, don't despair, there are many opportunities to find ways to feel a part of your family's rhythm.
Here are a few practical tips that new dads have shared with me to get the most out of your 10th month of fatherhood.
For your baby:
For your wife/partner:
Bruce Linton, Ph.D. is founder and director of the Fathers' Forum programs for expectant and new fathers. He is a former contributing editor to "Full-Time-Dads" magazines, and columnist for Parents' News in San Francisco, California. He is the author of Finding Time for Fatherhood. Bruce is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapists and received his doctorate for his research on men's development as fathers.
Copyright © Bruce Linton. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.