(Disclaimer: New Dad Survival Kit, or NDSK, must be purchased and put together by you. Individual results may vary as NDSK is a combo of knowledge and knickknacks to get you through the trials ahead. What you get out of it is what you put in, literally.)
—but it’s still a diaper bag at the end of the day. I recommend a basic tiny duffle bag, the kind you get for free when you sign up for a gym membership. People shouldn’t assume it’s a daddy bag, it should look like something that sits in a chair in the corner of your spare bedroom—a bag that’s been there so long you forgot what was in it. This is crucial, as a father should maintain a certain level of outward apathy at all times, reserving visible love for only the most special occasions.
2. Headache Medicine. This is an absolute must. You won’t be getting much sleep because your baby hates you, asit should. You snatched it from its warm, cozy womb and thrust into a cold, harsh world filled with polio, Maroon 5, and monthly business tax filings. They’ll need a rage target or they’ll explode—so that’s you. Soon as you close eyes, they start crying, and after this goes on long enough, you’ll get a headache. You can thank me later.
3. White Noise Machine/App. It’s probably easier just to get an app for this or pull up a YouTube video, but however you do it, do it. Baby rage is sometimes quelled by a steady low, roaring noise, similar to what they hear in the womb. You could do it yourself but you’ll either damage your vocal chords or eventually pass out.
4. Baby Wipes. You’ve got a baby. It’ll need wiping. Trust me. They’re also super useful wiping non-baby items. My kids are 3 and 5 and still I have a container of wipes in every part of my house for spur of the moment dusting and messes.
5. A Laundry Pen. If you love your clothes. Or you could wear shirts you don’t care about. Either way, you shall be pooped and puked upon, so be ye prepared.
6. Baby Socks/Nail Clippers. On a practical note, I wish someone would’ve told me about the scratching. Baby’s involuntarily claw the crap out of themselves with their sharp little fingernails during their first few months. Remedy this by putting socks on their hands, or by clipping their nails while they sleep.
7. Swaddling Tools. I recommend a small receiving blanket. Fold it into a triangle with the point down, lay your baby on itwith their shoulders to the upper flat side, take one side and fold it over one of their arms tucking it close to their body, repeat with the other side. You just swaddled your raging baby. For whatever weird, womby reason, babies love not being able to move.Use a double swaddle for stronger babies (Look it up. I’m already over my word limit for this article as it is).
8. Diapers, Extra Clothes, and Gallon Ziploc Bags. You’ll look like such a stud when you pull these out. You and your wife will have gone out, just a quick trip so she didn’t bring the diaper bag, but you, superdadthat you are, always carry your NSDK. When your baby has a blowout in the middle of the dollar store, your wife’s eyes will fill with tears of joy as you save the day.
Since most of your dadding involves holding the baby for long periods without moving, entertainment becomes a key issue. Unless you write for a living (In your face every other profession!) you can’t really hold a sleeping baby and work at the same time. Here’s a list of things I’d recommend for entertainment:
1. A Good Book. Reading is the quietest way to entertain yourselfwhile holding a sleeping baby. And it helps lull your stress-addled mind to sleep after a long day of baby holding. I’d recommend The Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. It’s about a boy who crashes a plane in the Canadian wilderness and has to survive, fighting for his life and sanity every day, which is what you’ll be doing as a new dad anyway so . . . motivation.
2. A Favorite Movie/Video Game. As much as I love to read, I can’t do it forever, but I can zone out for hours in front of one of my favorite games, like Fallout 4. Heart rate and blood pressure increase while gaming as well, so the thudding of your heart will keep your baby sound asleep since it reminds them of being in the womb. However, don’t play online, don’t play competitively, and don’t play/watch anything new. Expectation is the mother of disappointment. If you’re counting on your baby to act a certain way, they inevitably won’t. Put on something you’ve seen, or play a game you’ve already played. Then you won’t get irritable when the three hour nap your baby usually takes becomes a thirty minute one.
3. A Smartphone Charger. You know your phone can literally do all the stuff I just mentioned above, right? Games, movies, books. Unlike my wife who manages to phase her phone out of existence every few hours, I always have mine with me. I can read on it, play a relaxing puzzle game, or watch Netflix. Unless your NDSK bag is gargantuan, it’ll be challenging to keep a PS4 and 32inch LCD TV in there without getting all the chords tangled and increasing your frustration. Keep an extra charger for your phone in your bag and make sure your chair is near an outlet, or put one of those portable battery packs in it.
So there you have it! Your NDSK is complete! Feel free to add a few extra things, but you don’t want to over do it. Don’t organize the things inside either. If you’re too prepared, you’ll be your wife. It’s crucial that your child observe an element of successful chaos as they grow up. That burden falls to you, Dad, since your wife is essentially order incarnate. Your child must see you wing it. They must witness your ramshackle, half thought out attempts to care for them work out for the best. And when they don’t, that’s when you make up an excuse, pat your kid on the head, and tell them you love them. They’ll be so overwhelmed by the reward that is your display of emotion they’ll forget whatever mistake you made and continue seeing you as the superdad you are.