She needs a diaper change with every feeding, sometimes before and after. Is that normal? She’s spitting up quite a bit every time that I try to burp her. Is that normal? She’s sleeping so much better during the day than she is at night. Is that normal?

Being first-time parents, our minds are filled with all sorts of daily concerns and worries. Some of these I expected to encounter as a new dad, like figuring out how to bathe my baby or how to establish a new working arrangement. While those are certainly stressful in their own right, we vastly underestimated all the little things that would cause so much concern.

Damned If You Do…

It’s obvious enough that we want what is best for our daughter. From this point forward, it’s all about her. The struggle, particularly at this early age when she can’t really tell me how she feels or what she wants, is that we can’t really win no matter what she does or doesn’t do. When she can only nap for about an hour at a time, we worry that she might not be getting enough sleep. When she naps for a longer period of time, we worry that she’s not waking herself up to feed. Is she sick?

This applies right across the board, from feeding habits to napping habits, from diaper contents to burping tendencies. Because every baby is different, there are a lot of things that are considered normal. It can be incredibly stressful for a new dad like me, because I’m not at all familiar with many of these things. We had heard about baby acne, for instance, but how much of it is considered normal and when can we expect it to go away? What can we do to help her in the meantime? Are we sure it’s not eczema or something else?

And don’t even get me started on everything that has to do with the diaper area, both on the baby and in terms of the contents of each, um, “package” she delivers.

OK Google, Is This Normal?

The Internet, in this way, has become an incredible blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it is an overwhelming resource, busting at the seams with all sorts of information from both the medical community and from fellow parents. On the other hand, a new dad or mom might feel compelled to look up every little thing to see what is or isn’t normal, what can and cannot be done, and what we can expect moving forward.

This is another major difference from how I was raised, as a new dad in my parents’ generation would not have had such immediate access to so much information (and misinformation). They just went about their day, only visiting the doctor if something felt profoundly wrong. These days, we fret over everything and understandably so.

Whether or not the crowdsourced advice online is of any reassurance, we may still go to see the doctor. If nothing else, we can feel a little better when an authoritative person in a lab coat tells us that we’ve got what appears to be a healthy and happy baby. And at the end of the day, that’s all we can ask.