Entertainer Nick Lachey, 39, says being a new dad surprised, delighted, and challenged him -- and gave him something new to sing about.
You have two nephews. Did that experience prepare you for having your own son, Camden?
"To some extent, yeah, in that any experience you have is good. I mean, at least I had changed some diapers and all that. But it’s a whole other ballgame when it’s your own child -- and certainly when you’re changing multiple diapers a day. With that and with everything, you learn on the fly and you learn fast."
Was it at all difficult to watch your little brother have kids before you, when it was something you’d always desired yourself?
"You know, it wasn’t really. I just knew that there’s a time and a place for everything and that eventually I would get to the place where my life was ready for a child."
What has been the most challenging part of this first year of parenthood for you and your wife, Vanessa?
"Oh, definitely the first few days home with Camden. You’re still so new as a parent, and he’s so new, and there’s just all this uncertainty. You just don’t want to screw up. I remember that even just that first ride home from the hospital was incredibly nerve-wracking."
Has sleep deprivation been a major issue?
"I think we’ve both gotten really lucky and made some good choices in terms of how he sleeps. He’s a great baby -- very easygoing and has been sleeping through the night for months. But I think that’s also because we both read a bunch of books to prepare for the sleep issues, and we made sure we didn’t travel too much within his first 6 months, to get him on a pretty strict schedule. Keeping to that schedule is the best thing we’ve done. When he’s rested, he’s happy -- and so are we."
What have you done to keep Camden and yourself healthy during his first year?
"Like most typical new parents, we were pretty vigilant about germs when he was really young -- so anyone who was going to be in close contact with him had to scrub up. But otherwise I think we’ve been pretty mellow, overall. As for me, I made a concerted effort to stay in shape. To start, I tried not to gain any pregnancy sympathy weight. That’s partly just because of the business I’m in, but also partly so I feel good."
Have you had any moments where you thought, whoa, “Daddy FAIL!”?
"Well, I will say that the first time Vanessa went out of town and I had to do his bath solo, it sure wasn’t pretty, and it was not nearly as smooth as when his mom does it. Oh, I got him clean, in the end...but I felt like I was subjecting him to a sub-par bath experience."
What has surprised you most about parenthood?
"Just the way your life changes so much, so fast, and in every way. It affects every decision you make, and for the rest of your life. Actually, I’m not exactly surprised by this -- because I did expect it -- but perhaps I’m just amazed at how broad-sweeping it is."
Any baby gear you’re particularly grateful for these days?
"The little jumpy thing we put in a doorway. He loves bouncing around in it so much, and it helps me in the mornings -- I can actually have my hands free and make a cup of coffee."
What role has music played in these early days of parenting?
"Well, I started singing to him well before he was even born, because I heard that babies might recognize the tunes they heard in the womb. In fact, one of the songs on my new album of lullabies came out of those pre-natal singing sessions, called 'Sleepy Eyes.' And while I was making the album, as soon as I came home from the studio, I’d test out my songs on him. It’s just the sweetest thing to watch his reactions: He smiles and his eyes light up. I also included my take of the classic 'You Are My Sunshine' on the album because it has a deep resonance for me -- my grandfather sang it to me when I was a baby."
How would you feel if Camden wanted to follow in his parents’ footsteps and be in the entertainment business?
"I felt so lucky that my parents were 100% supportive of anything I wanted to do, and so I’m determined to show the same unwavering acceptance of my son, whatever he wants to do."
What are you most looking forward to sharing with Camden in the months and years to come?
"Some of the most typical father-son stuff, for sure, like sports. I can’t wait to take him to his first baseball game, to watch more football with him, or to have a catch together. But even this past winter, when he was just a few months old, he’d sit on my lap and we’d watch my beloved Cincinnati Bengals together. I call him my 'good luck charm.'"
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