Duff Goldman on being a new dad: 'I'm trying to do everything but breastfeeding'

Erin Donnelly
·10-min read
Duff Goldman is embracing his new dad lifestyle — and launching a baking show for kids. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)
Duff Goldman is embracing his new dad lifestyle — and launching a baking show for kids. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers)

Welcome to So Mini Ways, Yahoo Life's parenting series on the joys and challenges of childrearing.

Duff Goldman's only been a dad for three months — he and wife Johnna welcomed daughter Josephine Frances on Jan. 31 — but he's already taken to it like a duck to water. "I love it all," he says of his baby girl's spit-up, sleep deprivation and the occasional heart-melting smile.

It's fitting, then, that the pastry chef and Ace of Cakes star has set his sights on a younger audience with the April 29 launch of his new show, Duff's Happy Fun Bake Time on Discovery+. The new kids series sees Goldman whipping up his decadent delights with the help of some puppet pals, an idea he dreamed up one day while baking with Sesame Street playing in the background.

"I like kid stuff," the Charm City Cakes baker tells Yahoo Life. "I watch cartoons all the time — and not, like, Adult Swim cartoons. Ratatouille, Ice Age, Frozen. ... I love kids movies. I'm kind of a big kid and everything I do is sort of geared toward kids. Cooking was such a big part of my life at such a young age that I want to be able to show that to other people and give that exposure to kids."

Here, the new dad gushes about fatherhood, from introducing his daughter to Jewish traditions to his "pretty chill" approach to parenting.

You became a dad in your 40s. Did you ever think that maybe you might not be a father?

It was kind of like, for a daddy to make a baby, you need a mommy, and I don't think I ever really met her until I met her. It took a while. I remember when I was sort of visited by a vision that I needed to marry my wife; the day that I was like, "oh my God, I gotta ask her to marry me," my very next thought was, "we're going to have babies." Like, of course we're going to have a baby.

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What sort of parenting preparation did you do? Were you inhaling lots of pregnancy and parenting books?

A few. We weren't, like, obsessively searching every corner of the internet for every scrap of information on babies. You know, I think we're both pretty chill... We didn't want to know too much, because I feel like when you know too much, you just obsess about everything. My wife and I just kind of had the attitude of "everybody can do it." Everybody has babies. Our biggest hope or wish for Josephine is that she grows up kind, and everything else is gravy. We're not that hippie-dippie, but we're pretty chill. Like, "Oh, there's a fluid coming out of her. What do we do?"

How do you see your role right now as a dad? Is it just being a supporting partner? Is it rolling up your sleeves and getting in there? What does that look like for you?

Oh, man. I'm trying to do everything but breastfeeding, the thing I really can't do. I'm kind of like Mr. Mom around here. I deal with all the food, I clean, I do all the dishes, I do the trash, I do the laundry. I keep the place running and my wife is making sure that the baby eats every two hours, and I'm making sure she eats enough so she can feed [the baby]. As a dad, my advice for dads is just: do everything. Just learn it all, do all the things that you can and get some daddy time. It's hard to get some daddy time because they're always together, but I get some set aside in the morning when she sleeps on me, and I just want to die.

You've posted photos of doing skin-on-skin with the baby on Instagram.

Yeah, she throws up on me, it's great. I love it. It's really cool how the way that you think about everything changes — everything. You have a kid and I see the entire world through, not her eyes, but through a new mind. It's like all of a sudden, I finally have purpose in my life. It's earth-shattering, having a kid. It really is. It changes the way that you think about everything. And it's very cliché; everybody says it. And now that I've had a kid, I'm like, "Oh, I guess so."

When I look at her, [I think] how is it possible that I have this much love for somebody — for anybody, for anything. You have such strong feelings. It's love, but it goes way beyond that. And it's just like, where with this emotion hiding. It's great.

Having a newborn that you're responsible for can be a real shock to the system. How are you adjusting?

We're doing pretty great. The past few days she's been really stuffed up and we got the saline solution and the little thing that goes in the nose and you can remove stuff with the suction. We read about it and figured out how to unstuff the nose and now she's good. It's very intuitive; babies are pretty tough, you know what I mean? Yes, they're sensitive, but I think they're tougher than we think. Before I remember I was so hesitant to hold anybody's baby, and now I have one I'm like, "give me that baby, I'll hold that baby, I'll hold that baby all day" [laughs]. You kind of understand and articulate to your own mind that it's just a little human. It's going to need stuff. It wants to eat, poop and sleep just like the rest of us, and you figure out which one it wants.

How is your Jewish faith playing a role in your parenting, and what do you look ahead to in the next few years?

When I was a kid, we had Pesach every year. Passover's a big deal: going to temple and we'd have a big seder with people flying in from out of town. When my brother and I left the house, the seder kind of left our lives; we were just too busy and had other stuff going on. And this year I went to a Judaica shop in the Valley and I got a seder plate and a Kiddush cup and an Elijah's cup and a Miriam's cup, a matzah plate and a little cover for the matzah... I got all the stuff for the seder and I had a huge family seder. And it's all for her. I want her to have that memory in her life, that, like, every year Passover is a big deal. I really want to make sure that she understands who she is.

Do you have a mantra for parenting?

Nothing that's articulated, but if I had to think about it, one of the things that I'm amazed at is that I love a hundred percent of it. The poopy diapers, the crying, being up at 4 in the morning, throwing up on me. I love it. Even when she's crying, I'm smiling. She throws up on me, I'm smiling. Change her diaper at 4 in the morning, I'm smiling. I love it all.

She's just starting to smile at us, and she makes all these cute sounds like she's trying to talk. It just absolutely melts your heart. For me, there's no difference between her smiling at me and her throwing up on me. I just love it. I think that as you're becoming a parent — and you're sleep-deprived, you're tired, you're anxious about stuff, the future's crazy, nobody knows what's going on — [remember that] our parents went through this and their parents went through and their parents... You start to realize that everybody just figures it out.

And then the one thing that I think has given me a lot of comfort is that, when you're a kid, you kind of see your parents as almost God-like; they can do anything. They can do anything and they know everything and you live your life and you're kind of waiting for that moment — like, the heavens open up and somebody hands you the key of knowledge [laughs]. And now that I've had a kid, I realized that that day never comes. All of us — everybody, you, me, parents, everybody — we are making it up as we go. And that actually makes me feel more secure, not less. You realize that all these people that you think have these grand ideas and totally [have] their life together ... no, no, no. Nobody was figuring it out. But it's all good. You'll figure it out. Like she's crying. Right. And she's like, you'll figure it out eventually. And when you do, you'll be like, OK, I know that.

It's endearing to hear a new parent be so positive.

It's funny. Before, when we were going to have a kid, we just had nine months of nonstop advice, just constant of people telling us all this stuff. And as a new parent, I'm not going to be that person, because you just get this constant barrage of "this can happen, and this can happen." And you know what? Just relax. Everything's gonna be fine. She's gonna grow up ... She's gonna do her thing. We're gonna figure that out. And that's what we've been doing.

My wife is incredible. She is a natural, and just watching her transformation has been incredible for me, just seeing her as a mom and just doing it. Just seeing the insane connection she has, this intuition that she knows what [the baby] needs. It's just beautiful, you know? And I think that by everybody constantly talking about like bad stuff about having a baby... [it's hard] but it's amazing. I have a deeper love and respect for my wife now; I didn't know that was possible, but I do. So [I focus on] embracing that stuff and embracing the uncertainty of, who is my daughter going to be? Is she going to be a musician? Is she going to be a cook? Is she going to be a scientist? You don't know! I will show her everything.

Final question. Her first birthday is obviously far off, but do you have any grand visions for her birthday cake?

I'm definitely gonna make it, but I don't know [the theme yet]. I'll have to see what she's into at a year. Right now she's just into boobs.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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