Monday, April 30, 2012 2:22 PM EDT
When prepping a house for a baby, there are a handful of self-evident changes that need to be made. You need a crib; you need a changing table; you need an airtight receptacle for dirty diapers (although it’s never quite airtight enough, no?) But self-evident ain't gonna help you on the wrong side of midnight. Here are some dad-specific house preparation tips culled from those who’ve been through it.
Get a comfortable bed/pull-out couch for your guest room
It’s not for guests, muchacho. The escape pod bed has already come in handy for me during the final weeks of pregnancy, when my wife has been stricken by “Restless Everything Syndrome.” It’s not terribly romantic, but sometimes getting a solid few hours of sleep overrides spousal solidarity and you just need to pull the cord, offer your best wishes and flee to a second bed. But: Be sure to be clear about what you’re doing. One night, I just climbed out of bed and into the second location without saying anything. My wife thought I had fled to another city. It was not good.
Get a good wireless headset and renew your various entertainment options
When it’s 2 a.m. and you’ve just calmed down a crying baby (or have simply had your internal clock demolished by the little angel), you’re going to want some stimulation. And two absolute no-no’s are waking up either your spouse or that baby you just managed to get down. So make sure you’ve got your cable up-to-date (for those 2 a.m. reruns of Holmes Inspection), your Netflix subscription paid (I have a friend who thanks the streaming service for the fact that his infant daughter has seen every single zombie movie ever made) and whatever else you require to get you through the dark hours (I got the baseball package). And make sure you’ve got a wireless headset so nobody’s woken up by the sounds of grand slams or brain-eating.
Get a crib that can fit through a standard-width door
This had never occurred to me, but is absolutely vital. It goes back to the first point: You’re going to want options. What if that baby room you’ve so carefully cultivated just does not work for your baby? What if she can only fall asleep next to the dryer? You’re going to want that crib to be as portable as possible, and you do not want to be hunting for Allen keys at 3 a.m.
Two words: baby gates
Two more words: six months. Since our apartment is a multi-level, Donkey Kong–style deathtrap, I was ready to install baby gates as soon as I found out my wife was pregnant. I had to have it patiently explained to me that most babies don’t start crawling until they’re 6 months old, at least. There’s no use in having to vault over gates until then.
Buy double (or triple, or quadruple) of baby’s favourite toys
This was a hot tip from some relatives who had a Sleep Sheep that appeared to be perpetually spotless. When I asked what their secret was, they confided that what I was looking at was Sleep Sheep #4. It was like Lassie. When a child forms a bond with a toy, that child will only be calmed by that toy. And then that child tries to destroy that toy. Remember: All the world’s a stage — best to have understudies.