Newborns should come with health warnings

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Just a week into the school holidays and I am already worn out – not that I have played much of a role in childcare this summer, but the mere thought of it leaves me weary.

In fact, on a bad day, walking up the stairs is akin to attempting the Three Peak Challenge, on a unicycle. It is not that I do any more than your average, harassed, late thirty-something dad but my tiredness threshold is equal to that of a milk-hungry six-month-old, which is kind of appropriate considering what awaits me in the coming days.

Just months from my fortieth year and I am the brink of becoming a dad for second time – granted I am in no danger of giving Old Father Time a run for his money but the prospect of stinking disposable nappies and 2am wake up calls are things I do not relish. As delighted as Mrs Tapp and I are to have a new addition to the family, I have asked myself if we have thought the consequences through.

Even though we are routinely woken before the Today Programme begins, we still manage between seven to eight hours’ shut-eye each night, a fact which has seen us become increasingly more smug in recent years, particularly when friends and loved ones regale us with their tales of sleep-deprived woe following their own new arrivals. We have become used to being a family-of-three and all the perks that come with not having a tiny sleep thief next to the marital bed.

While I cannot wait to embrace my newborn child and watch him grow up, I am not looking forward to the compulsory ‘I am far more tired than you are’ competition which is keenly contested by new mums and dads everywhere. For the record, I won the last time it was contested in our house.

Back in the 1980s when Yuppies and Mrs Thatcher got by on the smell of new money and just four hours kip, moaning about being tired was for wimps but it has long since been proved that not enough time counting sheep is seriously bad for your health.

A series of clinical studies have informed us of the importance to get up the wooden hill as soon as the News At 10 has finished but it is the most recent report which should make us take notice. Researchers have discovered just one night of disrupted sleep can have an adverse effect on our metabolism. Clearly this is bad news for shift workers, insomniacs and lovers of rubbish late night telly and begs the question whether it will soon become compulsory to slap health warnings on a 72-inch Sony or games console.

As chuffed as I am to have the privilege of being a dad again, I do so in the knowledge that welcoming a newborn into my home could be seriously damaging to my health.