quit freaking out about babies.

19 Jul

I like babies and dogs, I always have.  There’s something about those two creatures that just makes me exceedingly happy.  I’m assuming it’s because they don’t talk.  Maybe it’s because I find amusement in something that slobbers.  In any event, my heartfelt affinity for babies is not common for a man – and I’m okay with that.  But what I’m not cool with is how much crap I’ve gotten for liking babies (men seem to make allowances for dogs).  Countless friends of mine have said, “Oh man, I’m glad you like babies…but they freak me out!” or “Wow, you should really have a kid since you like babies so much.”

Grown Men, you need to quit freaking out about babies.  So many of you are afraid that:

1- You’ll drop them.
2- You won’t know what to do EVEN if you just hold one for a few minutes.
3- Your lady-friend will think you’re hinting that it might be time to start “trying”.

Allow me to refute these points:

You’ll drop them.: No, you wont.  Think of it this way, at the end of a long evening at the local pub, you’re able to hold a pint even when you’re tired and half-in-the-bag. That glass is made out of, you guessed it, glass, and would shatter time and time again if you were as clumsy as you perceive yourself to be.  Furthermore, babies aren’t as delicate as guys think they are.  Have you ever seen a delivery?  Me neither.  But from what I’ve been told, the nurses and doctors are far from our definition of gentle.  Apparently, they move swiftly with the babies and hit them on the back so they’ll cough up any remaining ectoplasm.  You see what I’m getting at? Dr. Venkman knows what he’s doing and you, my gentle-man, are not going break a baby.  My advice is to sit down the first few times.  The mom or dad will get what you’re doing and will gladly hand you the little-buddy when you’re situated.  All you have to do is sit and do nothing – which you’re naturally a pro at.

You won’t know what to do…: Well, this is kinda true actually.  If you’re freaked out by holding a baby, then you’ve likely never changed a diaper, taught your daughter how to ride a bike, or given your son “the talk”.  However, enjoying a baby isn’t about those things – nobody is asking you to raise the kid just because you’ve taken a few minutes to hold one.  In fact, if the worst case scenario happens and they either a)start crying or b)load up the diaper, the parents are going to know immediately that you, a total amateur, are not able to handle these scenarios and they’re going to politely snag Bonzo back and do what they do (and you don’t) – parent.

Your lady-friend will think you’re ready to start “trying”.: Oh geez, this one’s just a total cop-out.  There isn’t a Grown Woman in the world who thinks your ready to be a dad just because you allow yourself the pleasure of holding a baby.  When she watches you, she’s thinking, “God, his mom’s going to be a freaking nightmare if we ever have a kid.”  Listen up, I know you love “practicing” and aren’t ready to “try” – and that’s okay.  But when the time is right, you’ll know.  You and the Mrs. will talk about it like adults and turn that corner together.  Holding a baby won’t force the issue.

Molly and Grown Man

A few weeks ago, I got the rare opportunity of holding an 11-hour-old baby.  Her name is Molly and she is, as far as I can tell, a perfect baby.  She smelled exactly like a new baby should, made clicking sounds as she breathed, and had exceedingly soft ears. I loved my time with Molly.  As I sat there for 30 minutes holding her, I couldn’t help but think about her at 5-years old, running around in the park, at 18-years-old, descending the stairs in a prom dress, and at 30-years-old, with a family of her own.

At this point, I realize  the male readers have Apple-Q‘d this page and the female readers are all that’s left.  But for the few guys that have made it to this point, you’ve got to hear that holding a baby is about looking at someone else and seeing hope and promise.  Just like I look past your dead-fish handshake and see a possible Grown Man.

21 Responses to “quit freaking out about babies.”

  1. Tony 19 July 2010 at 1:50 pm #

    Actually, if I’m entirely honest, the reason I don’t hold babies or coo over them is because I just don’t see the big deal.

    I don’t think they’re aesthetically pleasing things (in fact, most look downright ugly, in my opinion), and I don’t think they’re special – they’re just an undeveloped us. They can’t do anything interesting, and you can’t really engage with them much.

    Maybe I’m just being cold and emotionless, but does that make me any less of a grown man?

    • Kris Arruda 19 July 2010 at 2:28 pm #

      Hahaha.Tony, You’re cold, but damn funny. “undeveloped us” was genius.

      I don’t hold babies because 1) I’ll drop them 2) Always think that i’m too “dirty” for them.

    • Amy B. 19 July 2010 at 3:11 pm #

      Ah, but you’ve missed the point of baby-holding. Baby-holding isn’t for your own enjoyment, although if you do enjoy babies it is a perk. Baby-holding is actually about doing a favor for the friend/family member/acquaintance who recently acquired said baby. Not that they’re sick of the kid, but try being around a baby 24/7, especially if it’s the kind of baby that refuses to so much as sleep without being held. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve offered to hold a baby and seen the holder’s face sag with relief; this is especially true when the food is served at summer BBQs when the new parent really wants and needs to eat but can’t because everyone else is eating and thus can’t hold the baby.

      But even if the parent isn’t currently frazzled and is simply offering for you to hold the baby for a minute or two, saying yes will save their arms two more minutes of tiring. If there are others waiting eagerly to hold the baby, then sure, say, “Actually it looks like So-and-so really wants to hold him/her” and deftly skip your turn in line. But never make it known that you simply don’t hold babies, because then you won’t be asked, even when the parent really needs a break.

    • You're a Grown Man 19 July 2010 at 3:12 pm #

      Tone Loc, you’re breaking my heart! Not aesthetically pleasing? They’re like Micro-Machines – cute, hand-held, versions of the real thing. However, every Grown Man is entitled to his own opinion and I respect yours.

      In truth, this was one of the funnier comments I’ve ever gotten…well done! “…and I don’t think they’re special – just an undeveloped us” is classic, just don’t tell any prospective lady-friend you feel that way.

      • Tony 19 July 2010 at 3:26 pm #

        I’m quite lucky in that my lady-friend feels exactly the same; we both have more affection for four legged creatures than babies.

        I’d just like to clarify, though – I’m more than willing to help out where necessary. You want me to hold your baby while you go get yourself a snack/cup of tea/gin and tonic? Sure, not a problem. I just don’t understand the whole “aw, isn’t it adorable” thing. Because, really, more often than not they look more like something Mulder and Scully should be chasing down than most would freely admit.

  2. Kurt 19 July 2010 at 2:27 pm #

    I love babies, and holding a newborn is an irreplaceable experience.

    Also, learning to change a diaper is something every man should do. Add that to your todo list at some point.

    That said…I /do/ think there’s something about babies and other pregnant/nursing women that makes wives start thinking about more kids. I’m serious. It is pheromones or something.

    • You're a Grown Man 19 July 2010 at 3:16 pm #

      Good one, Kurt. “Change a diaper” is on the list.

      Also, I totally agree with your pheromones theory. While you holding a baby probably doesn’t get the lady-friend thinking, I’m betting that being around the other pregnant friends puts the car in gear.

      Thanks for reading, Kurt. Also, I’m not sure if I’ve told you this before, but your profile picture is kinda intimidating.

      • Kurt 19 July 2010 at 3:21 pm #

        Amazing what a little camera angle can do for a pic. 😉

  3. Storms 19 July 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    The most manly part of holding a baby for me is recognizing that God just made a brand new human being and I’m getting to hold it in my hands. It’s not like holding anything else in all of creation. I’m holding something with life & breath & a soul. Amazing!

    • You're a Grown Man 19 July 2010 at 3:17 pm #

      Well put, Storms, I totally agree. There’s really nothing quite like holding creation in your hands to give you perspective. Amazing indeed.

    • Aaron W 19 July 2010 at 5:05 pm #

      Very true Storms. And it’s much more so when it’s your own kid!

  4. Amy B. 19 July 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    I enjoy making my guy friends hold babies. The key is to ask if he wants to hold them, then shove the baby in his chest before he gets a chance to answer. Because many have that breakable fear you mentioned, he’ll automatically move his arms to hold the kid for fear that you’ll let go before he’s ready. By the time that he realizes that he implicitly agreed to hold the baby, you’ve already got your hands away and are gently correcting his technique.

    Of course, this generally doesn’t apply to men who are older brothers to much younger siblings. In that case, they grew up with babies and thus can baby-hold with the best of them. (It certainly helped me, being the oldest sister.) Like most things, baby-holding has more to do with a fear of the unknown than anything about the act itself.

    • You're a Grown Man 19 July 2010 at 3:53 pm #

      Now that’s a solid and cunning technique, Amy B! I can’t imagine the poor fellas that find themselves having a nice conversation with you and, BAM!, they’ve got a baby in their arms and you’re “gently correcting”. Sounds like a party.

      As far as the older sibling theory goes, I think you may have hit on something. I’m an older sibling and have very fond memories of holding my little brother (7 years my junior). Man, my brother was a cute baby. Now, he’s 6’5” and about to get married – I need time to slow down.

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Amy B., I really appreciate it.

    • Tim 29 August 2012 at 10:49 pm #

      If you did that to me I would be mad and I would not want to talk to you. I enjoy being single and I don’t want kids and I don’t want to hold babies. I would hold the baby only because I would not want to the baby to fall. But I would tell you to never do that to me again. If someone does not want to hold a baby you should respect that.

  5. Aaron W 19 July 2010 at 5:00 pm #

    Holding a baby is no big deal. Having held many, and one of my own, it’s not much different than holding a bag of rice, or wheat. I think the main thing that holds guys back is they’re afraid of hurting it somehow. (That was my excuse way back when) This is far from the case. Birth is pretty impressive and those little babies a quite squished when they go through the birth canal. You know what though, they’re made for it! Their bones are not hard yet, and quite flexible, and the plates of their cranium haven’t fused yet, so if you do happen to by chance drop them (and it happens occasionally!) don’t fret! They’re resilient and will bounce back, if they’re even hurt at all. They’ll probably just scream out in fright and perhaps some pain. Otherwise they’ll be okay.

  6. embejo 19 July 2010 at 6:15 pm #

    A man holding a baby is very attractive 😉 (even if he’s a little awkward)

  7. Tom 20 July 2010 at 8:40 am #

    Ho-hum, another peerless GM perspective that I only wish I could have written. I was the poster boy for squeamish Dads, convinced I would smother my son in his snow suit and maim him for life while trimmming those tiny toenails. Somehow, we survived, and I truly miss those days when both of us fit into a rocking chair. Even these 18 years after his birth, it takes little evocation before he’s back in my nervous hands and pressed to my quivering chest: the caramel smell of his head, the warmth of his newness, the grateful grip of his fledgling fist around my pinky. Talking Heads’ “Stay Up Late” was in constant rotation, a new parent simply wanting to extend playtime. As he prepares to head off for college in a scant four weeks, following his dreams in accord with nature’s way, can’t I just hold him for five more minutes?

  8. lookingforsomethingtofind 20 July 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    It’s the poop and drool thing for me, same reason I’m not a dog person, always preferred cats, who if you get one of those self cleaning litter boxes, go neatly into the corner box, seem happy to see you, and don’t emit bodily fluids while you interact with them. That being said if I am a good friend of the parent (A couple of my close friends are in their later 20s, so a few of them now recently have kids) I’ll hold it for the reason Amy B. pointed out, to give their arms a break.

  9. mct88 20 July 2010 at 3:01 pm #

    Great post as usual.

    Honestly, if you’re with your lady-friend and its your first time holding a baby, we’re probably enjoying the fact that you’re freaking out because it shows all over your face 🙂

    Also, allow yourself to hold the baby-share and multiply the parents’ pride & joy!

  10. JamesW 1 August 2010 at 7:40 pm #

    Good post. Holding a newborn is inspiring, especially when it’s your own. Seeing this creation with aspects of your own face or eyes or those of your beloved spouse who just went through hours of agony to bring them into the world is nothing short of incredible. However, I’ll give it to you Tony…there are definitely some babies who look like they just dropped in from another dimension.

    Holding a baby is intimidating the first time or even the third time, but no more so than trying out any other new task. Think back to the first time you tried to ride a bike or kiss a girl. You didn’t know how…but you didn’t quit and figured it out.

    I actually have a harder time holding my two year old who squirms and fights. Newborns just sort of lay there wrapped in a blanket and either sleep, look around, or cry a little. If you can hold an arm load of firewood, you can hold a baby. And God knew what he was doing in making babies soft and pliable. And yes, babies may poop or drool a little bit, but I know of no grown man who doesn’t do worse on a regular basis! Babies are just something you have to acclimate to. I surprised myself today when I caught a handful of puke at lunch after my 4 year old decided she didn’t like the ravioli at Olive Garden and didn’t flinch, but just cleaned up and moved on. Wait till THAT happens for the first time. It’ll check your fortitude!


  1. Ask a Grown Man: Vol. IX « you're a grown man - 12 August 2010

    […] are right.  You’re a Grown Man is a blog for all men.  Being okay with crying, loving babies, hugging each other, and everything else I rant about is universal.  In fact, I’d say that most […]

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