What every man should know about being a new dad

One man shares his experience of life after his daughters birth and what he's learnt... so far

1. For the first time in your life, you and/or your partner - and not your parents - can organise your time.

2. Just joking - you're not in control, the baby is. She will completely disregard your attempts to plan anything at all.

3. During pregnancy, the baby can be anything - boy, girl, dark, fair, big, small - but when it comes, it won't be everything it could be. There's nothing wrong with grieving for the things that didn't turn out as you expected - it doesn't mean you love the child you do have any less.

4. I didn't think a new baby would be so fun. We're constantly laughing about how completely unselfconscious babies are!

5. Carrying a baby takes at least one hand, so lose an arm or buy a carrier.

6. Your baby will change every single day, and anything new that she does is a revelation. They're small things but you'll bore your friends to distraction talking about them.

7. Love didn't come automatically the moment she was handed to me after the birth. But right now, cuddling, hugging and rocking my baby just feels right.

8. Don't underestimate the effects of labour. Thirty-six hours of contractions and a caesarean wasn't part of our birth plan, and it took me a week to recover from the stress.

9. It's best not to make jokes about when you're going to have sex again - they'll be met by stony silence.

10. You'll delight in calling each other 'Mummy' and 'Daddy' (something everyone else will find revolting).

11. New parents don't stop being their parents' children - if your mum wants to cook for you or do your washing, just enjoy it.

12. You may feel that you're living through one long day - newborns can't differentiate between day and night, and within days you won't be able to either.

13. The tiredness is manageable, but during the day there are weak moments. Coffee, Coke and biscuits make all the difference.

14. You'll learn to eat with one hand, turn pages with your feet and fast forward the video with your nose. Luckily you only need one hand to pee, leaving the other free to cradle your asleep-at-last child.

15. Sort out your own toys before settling down with a baby - more than once I've been caught without the remote control and had to stare at the wall for three hours while she slept.

16. What do you do when a rested baby has a full stomach, a clean nappy, and is crying? Troubleshoot. If something doesn't work, try something else. Don't be afraid to experiment!

17. Agree on a division of labour. You and your partner need to decide, but be realistic - you can't stay awake all night tending to a crying baby and then put in an eight-hour day at work. I've been doing extra shifts at the weekend instead.

18. Returning to work after paternity leave can be a relief. The lunch hours in particular are a great chance to kick back or just have some time to yourself.

19. As a first-time dad, it's normal not to have the faintest idea of how to care for your baby. Don't panic - within a week you'll look back and be amazed at how far you've come (and how good you are at changing nappies!).

12:0AM, Feb 15th 2010

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