Zeyad Baker, MD

Dr. Baker is a dad of a 20-month-old son with one on the way. He is the chief pediatric officer of the Riverside Pediatric Group in New Jersey.

What was the biggest challenge you faced as a new dad, and how did you overcome it? As a pediatrician, the “common cold” that usually throws new parents into a frenzy, or a bout of constipation that may drive new parents into panic mode, did not phase me because of my profession. The challenge, however, was still empathizing with my wife during these “illnesses” (as she is not a pediatrician), and not just brushing them off (as well as her concern) as inconsequential.

What’s the most surprising lesson being a dad has taught you? Having a child has been enlightening in as much as it has provided me with a very critical and objective perspective on myself that I never had before. That is, when my son does something “wrong” (like eat some junk food or act out inappropriately), I recognize that these are the roots of many of the bad habits that we develop. I want to shout, “Stop! Don’t do that because someday you might be 35 years old and still doing it!” Sounds crazy, but you after you have children, you gain a new perspective on the importance of starting down the right path early on.

What’s the one bit of advice about fatherhood you wish someone had given you much earlier? Enjoy your sleep now, before having a child!

What’s the one thing about being a new dad that shouldn’t be missed? The first time your son throws a ball, dreams of your son becoming the next Derek Jeter flood your brain. It’s great!!

What’s the most overrated thing about fatherhood? Nothing! (…so far)

What’s the most underrated thing about fatherhood? The joy that you lose as you become an adult in “the little things.” Now, with my son, we have a blast eating ice cream, or just high-fiving each other. Having a child is a good reminder of how many of life’s greatest joys are also the simplest ones.

Why are fathers important? I treat many families with single-moms or single-dads,  and I love them all. Fathers are important because it is a different — not better or worse — kind of love that comes from a father. In my case, for instance, I joke that I learned my work ethic from my dad, and all my other ethics from my mom.

Career, marriage, kids … how does a guy stay sane? Life is only getting busier, and the balancing act is only getting harder. I think innovative solutions are sometimes necessary in order to find ways for a “new-age” father to pull off the crazy stunt of “work-life” balance. In my case, my son actually comes to the office with me on the weekends, so I can spend more time with him. Then, it’s off to the park after the office on Saturday and Sunday!

Profile by Wyatt Myers

Dr. Baker’s Q&As

Did you vaccinate your child?

Does your son go to daycare?