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31 Tips for New Dads - Preparing for Fatherhood

Updated: Nov 7, 2023

Editors note: this first excerpt of the article was originally written over 3 years ago. Since then I've made plenty of mistakes and acquired skills and resources for all of you first time fathers. Learn from my mistakes and save yourself some headaches with this first time father guide. Today we'll look at 31 tips for new dads all the way from conception to postpartum and everything in between.

31 Tips for New Dads - Preparing for Fatherhood

I'm going to be a what...?

In the midst of a global pandemic, making sure I was still keeping my head above water – juggling two jobs while attending my post-secondary studies – the very last thing that I expected to hear was, “I’m pregnant”.

I don’t think anyone is truly ready to be a father, and if they tell you they are, they’re most definitely lying to you and/or themselves. But when I heard the news, I was especially caught off guard. Me… a father? I was just 24 years old when I heard the news and I had lost my father 3 years prior, the last thing I felt qualified to do was to become a father. After the initial shock wore off, my partner and I were able to discuss our options for this pregnancy in a respectful way that made us both feel comfortable. It was important for me to remember that this was both of our decisions, but at the end of the day, it was ultimately her body that was going to go through these changes.

It was an easy choice to make, and so we braced ourselves for parenthood. We both agreed that this opportunity was truly too special to pass up, and what if we never got this chance again? Especially after these last few years, life seems so fickle and fleeting. We wanted to do what would fulfill the two of us and bring us the most joy and so it was a unanimous decision to bring our beautiful daughter into this world.

My partner has had a fairly uncomplicated pregnancy, although growing another human being inside you is surely not an easy task. The baby is due in the next few weeks and both of us couldn’t be more anxious, excited, and ready for the baby to get here. Bringing a life into this world and getting to experience the love and joy that a child brings is truly one of life’s great gifts.

But how can you ever truly be ready? Here's the bad news: you can't. The good news? Reading this means you're already one step ahead.

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31 Tips for New Dads - Preparing for Fatherhood

Many parents finding themselves overwhelmed with where to start when they find out their pregnant, let alone actually start preparing for the baby. My goal is to provide you with a list of valuable tips as an introduction, help point you in the right direction, and try my best to that awaits you on your journey to parenthood and get the baby home.

First and foremost, it's crucial to understand that every baby is a unique individual, and there's no one-size-fits-all guide to being a dad. Each person gets to shape their own unique experience and how they raise their child.

The purpose of this list is to offer examples of what has worked for me - but they're just an example! Don't need to follow everything here - use it as a stepping stone to find your own parenting style.

1. Begin Your Research Early

If you're reading this list of tips for expectant dads, you're already off to a great start. Expectant fathers have access to numerous resources to prepare themselves for the responsibilities of caring for their child - but sometimes it can be overwhelming. I've made a list of some of my favorite dad-centric books for parents-to-be unsure where to start.

Here at daddy oops I'm here to help! We're all in this together. On my blog my goal is simple: help you cut through all the noise online and have you learn from my mistakes so you don't repeat them. I've compiled all the parent-related information I've learned, from getting your baby to sleep through the night, surviving at a restaurant, gear reviews, or more topical pieces like 'New Laws to Protect Child Influencers'.

If you're like me, you're nervous and having a hard time even fathoming being a dad. Beginning my research early and learning about the process really helped wrap my head around the topic. By understanding what has happening to my wife's body and baby-to-be in her belly it made me feel more connected than I did before. If you're lucky enough to have friends or family with children reach out to them and ask what it was like for them.

2. Navigate the First Trimester and Educate Yourself on Pregnancy

The first trimester is a delicate phase of pregnancy. During this time, it's advisable to hold off on sharing the news on social media and instead focus on setting up appointments with an OB-GYN clinic. It also helps reviewing health and safety guidelines for pregnancy by the Mayo Clinic or Healthline to familiarize yourself more.

This period is an excellent opportunity to read and mentally prepare yourself. No need to go overboard, but sitting down with your partner and going over a basic plan like who are we going to tell first, or what hospital are we going to deliver at, can make you feel more at ease.

3. Allocate Your Budget Wisely

Let me very clear, kids cost a lot of money. Have you seen how much berries cost? Most of us never financially recover. But deciding to have a baby and preparing for them involves making tough financial decisions. Are either of you able to take paid leave? Who's going to be working after the babies born? These are just a few of many questions that will need answers well before the baby comes.

Babies come with many expenses, but a lot of the times you only need the basics. Don't go overboard on fancy brand name baby products like 300 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets that your newborn will enviably vomit on. Ikea makes a high chair, crib, and dresser, sheets, and more that are all extremely affordable and work just as well.

But make sure to spend the money on essentials like baby cleaning, diapering supplies, safe sleep options, feeding necessities, and baby transportation is key.

4. Support Your Partner

Since your partner is doing the literal heavy lifting of bearing your child, the least you can do is support them - bonus points for not being a dick! During pregnancy, expecting fathers might feel powerless at times, but this is a crucial period for building and strengthening your relationship with your partner and your baby-to-be.

Dynamic shifts are common during pregnancy, and it's important to stay connected and empathetic throughout this journey. One day my beautiful wife cried because we 'only had three kinds of pickles' in the house and that 'none of them were the right kind.' Remember - you never know what they're going through.

One thing that really helped me feel connected to my daughter and partner while she was still in the womb was reading and talking to her. This way she got familiar with my voice, and I was able to form a bond with her before she was born.

Regardless of whether your partner is carrying the baby, be there for them in every possible way. Whether it's a comforting foot rub, doing the dishes unprompted, or making a nice meal - your effort will go a long way in making your partner feel supported.

5. Prioritize Sleep

Sleep as much as you can while you still have the chance - you'll miss it once it's gone! Mastering healthy sleep patterns is essential for expectant parents. While it's reasonable to anticipate sleepless nights, it's also crucial not to fall into a perpetual state of sleep deprivation.

Explore strategies for establishing a good sleep schedule not only for your baby, but for you. One thing is for certain: every one needs good sleep. There's a lot of different methods online both free and paid.

A lot of iteration's I've seen is a different version of the popular 'cry it out method'. If you're having a hard time getting your baby to sleep, check out this simple guide I've made. But sometimes you need to call in the big guns - there's services like The Good Snooze who can help coach you and your baby on getting them to sleep through the night.

6. Practice your Sense of Humor

There's going to be poop, there's going to be tears, there's going to be long night. Learning to laugh at yourself, and your baby when these things happen can help get through these tough moments. Working on your sense of humor is also a proven method to improve your dad-jokes.

7. Figure out Feeding Options with Your Partner

Breastfeeding isn't the only option for every family. If you do some research you'll notice that there's a lot of 'formula hate' online, especially parenting communities online. I've heard countless times that 'breast is best' and that formula should be avoided at all costs.

It's important to have an open discussion with what your partner wants on the subject. Make sure she feels supported, a lot of the times breast feeding isn't easy. With all the stigma online it can make mothers feel less-than if they end up using formula.

Personally my wife tried to breastfeed was unable to proceed with it due to the physical and mental toll it took on her. Because of this, we ended up using formula as our preferred feeding method. It wasn't an easy decision, and we had to try many, many different formulas, but it was the decision that she made, that was the best choice for her and our daughter.

Even if breastfeeding is your choice, be aware that there may be challenges in maintaining a consistent supply. Baby formula can be a valuable alternative without any shame or guilt attached. For more information on breastfeeding, refer to the CDC's FAQs or explore diverse perspectives online - but watch out for online parenting hate!

8. Prepare for Baby's Hygiene

Keeping your baby clean is essential for their well-being. Diapers, baby wipes, butt rash cream, nasal aspirators, and baby safe lotions are essential items.

9. Gear Up for Baby's Transportation

You don't need the $2,000 dollar stroller just to stunt on everyone in the neighborhood. But you will need to take your baby on the move, which can be intimidating at first. Familiarize yourself with the necessary gear early on to ensure safe and convenient transportation.

10. Things to Let Go Of in the Crib

Certain baby-related items can wait - but certain to be avoided all together. Items like cute blankets, stuffed animals, crib bumpers, and toys should not be in your infants crib when they're first brought home. Extensive research has been done on safe sleeping practices, and it's important to keep the crib free of any objects that could cover your baby when they've just come home. What's worked best for us at this age were sleep sacks. It's a blanket that you just zip your little one into so they don't smother themselves with a loose blanket, and can have their arms free!

11. Power Through the Second Trimester

Congratulations, you've made it to the second trimester! This is often when couples start sharing their exciting news, as the risks are lower. It's also an ideal time to figure out WTF you're going to do when your baby is here in a few months!

If there's any advice you take from this: sign your little baby up for daycare while they're still in your partner's belly! This will save you headaches of scrambling last minute to find somewhere you feel safe leaving your little one. Begin researching life insurance options and pediatricians as these choices can take longer to finalize than you might expect.

12. Develop Healthy Habits (and create new systems)

Healthy habits take time to cultivate, and your well-being as a new dad is crucial for your baby's future. As James Clear states in one my favorite books Atomic Habits, "Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement." James addresses how to increase the effectiveness in your habits. The key is not to not focusing on a specific goal, but rather the kind of person that you want to be.

Prioritize small actions that make you feel good, both physically and mentally. Taking care of yourself and your partner will set an excellent example for your child, as healthy kids are happy kids.

13. Share Responsibilities and Communicate

Being a great dad begins long before your child arrives. If your partner is pregnant, you'll both experience significant changes in your dynamic. Embrace these changes and support each other through the process. Effective co-parenting is a powerful tool that can create a stronger bond between the two of you, and working together is always better.

14. Stay Informed

Your partner is likely doing her fair share of reading and research on parenting. If she shares articles or resources with you, take the time to read them. I made the mistake of not paying enough attention to these when I got them from my wife. Reading them on your own time allows you to digest the knowledge and learn it, rather then blurting out, "what am I supposed to do again babe?!"

Staying on the same page in your preparations is crucial. Consider enrolling in a local parenting class to improve your knowledge and skills, from understanding baby gear to parenting techniques. We weren't able to secure one in time, but we'd recommend getting a midwife if you have the resources. Having someone 'in your corner' at not only doctor appointments, but after the birth - can make a world of difference.

15. Attend Doctor's Appointments

Whenever possible, make an effort to attend doctor's appointments with your partner. This not only shows support but also allows you to learn more about the pregnancy process and gather valuable information. Obstetricians' offices are excellent resources for asking questions and obtaining additional insights, and I promise - they don't bite! You're not going to remember working those long nights, but your partner, baby, and you will all remember you showing up.

16. Take a Pause and Reflect

Preparing for parenthood can become overwhelming at times. Stay attuned to your emotions and seek support when needed. A happy and healthy dad is the best kind their is! If you ever feel uncertain, remember that you can reach out to us through our social media channels or our online community for dads.

17. Talk and Bond with Your Baby

While your baby may not be born yet, it's never too early to begin bonding. Research suggests that talking and singing to your baby while they're in the womb can have positive effects on their development. Building this early connection can lead to a happier baby and a stronger bond. Don't be shy; read or sing whatever you and your partner find the time.

18. Enhance Your Photography and Videography Skills

You'll undoubtedly capture countless precious moments with your baby through photos and videos. Take the time to learn how to take better pictures and videos to create a lasting archive of your child's growth and milestones.

19. Plan a Babymoon or a Push Present

A babymoon is a getaway for you and your partner before the baby arrives. It's a chance to spend quality time together as a couple before your focus shifts to your newborn. If possible, consider planning this special trip. While grandparents and babysitters will be there in the future, the early days with your newborn are priceless. If you can't get away - consider getting a push present: it's exactly what it sounds like, a present! It's the least you can do for your partner giving birth to your new baby.

20. Choose a Pediatrician

Selecting a pediatrician is a vital decision for your child's health - the best time to start looking was yesterday! Begin by deciding on the type of doctor you prefer, such as an MD, nurse practitioner, or physician's assistant. Research highly-rated pediatricians in your area, consider factors like board certification, insurance options, proximity, office hours, and whether they are accepting new patients.

21. Organize Your Living Space

An organized living space can make a significant difference, especially when you're experiencing sleep deprivation. Prepare by establishing good organizational habits early on to avoid mid-day tantrums when you can't find essential items. Remember, good habits start early. We eventually purchased a 'baby prison', which allowed our newborn to play safely in our living room in a controlled area and keep everything organized.

22. Prepare for the Third Trimester

As you enter the third trimester, the reality of parenthood draws near. Focus on ironing out the finer details and create checklists for the baby's arrival. Putting in the effort now will make those first weeks with your newborn more manageable.

23. Address Administrative Details

Health insurance, life insurance, wills, employer benefits, and certificates may not be the most thrilling topics, but they're essential. Discuss these aspects with your partner to ensure you're both on the same page and adequately prepared for your baby's arrival. Remember: planning and communication are key.

24. Define Your Parenting Style

Take a moment to reflect on the parent you want to be. Consider your own childhood experiences, recognizing what you want to emulate and what you want to change.

Being an exceptional dad is within your control, so embrace the role with seriousness, tempered by a sense of humor. Remember that caring enough to read this article, especially making it this far, is a significant step in the right direction.

25. Pack Your Hospital Baby Bag

Prepare a bag with essentials for your hospital stay. Prepare a bag with essentials for your hospital stay. Prepare a bag with essentials for your hospital stay. Sorry, did you read that? Prepare a bag with essentials for your hospital stay!

Include items like phone chargers, clothing for you and your baby, reading material, caffeine (in case you're not a fan of hospital coffee), snacks, a camera, and a comfortable pillow. Ensuring a smooth hospital visit is crucial during this exciting time. What are you waiting for? Get this done now!

26. Make a List and Check it Twice!

Checklists are invaluable tools when managing the tasks that come with preparing for a baby. They take away some of the heavy lifting your brain has to do when you're running out the door because your beautiful wife is going into labor.

27. Welcome Your Baby Home

Congratulations, your baby has arrived! Now it's time to transition back to your baby-ready home. Focus on safety measures, including smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, and creating a safe sleeping environment for your infant. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies should sleep in the same room as their parents (but not in the same bed) for the first six months.

28. Learn Your Baby's Cues and Embrace Baby Talk

With your baby now in your life, it's essential to learn their cues and communicate effectively. While your baby won't be speaking yet, they'll have their unique way of expressing themselves. Spend quality time with your baby to understand their language, and don't be afraid to use a playful baby talk voice – it's a sign of being a nurturing caregiver! Who cares about being 'macho'? Play with your baby and be as silly as can be.

29. Be Present

Babies may not do much in their early days, but your presence and engagement are vital. Talk, sing, and read to your baby to enrich their life and strengthen your bond. While you may occasionally check your phone or work, remember that the days are long but the years are short - embrace these early moments because they're precious.

30. Embrace Bragging Rights

As your child grows and achieves milestones, you'll find yourself wanting to share their accomplishments with the world. Whether you become the social media parent or share updates in a family group chat, find your own way to celebrate your child's achievements.

31. Remember, There's No Perfect Parenting

Despite our extensive research and advice, parenting is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Every baby is unique, and what works for one may not work for another. Enjoy the journey, take parenting seriously but not yourself, and always find time for fun. Cherish the moments as you embark on this remarkable adventure.

I hope this list can help you so that you don't make the same mistakes that I did! Each kid is different but one thing to take away from this is that it takes a village to raise a child, and I'm so lucky to have my own. Don't be afraid to ask for help, because everyone need it once in a while.

Being a first-time father is never an easy journey. There will be a lot of poop, sweat, and tears but you’ll be a natural as long as you trust your fatherly intuition, and I’m sure, we’ll all make it through together.

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