Becoming parents, whether planned or unplanned, can be overwhelming. First-time dads especially can often find the transition into parenthood scary because of a feeling of unpreparedness.
But, these feelings of doubt, fear, hesitations, excitement, and happiness are all valid. Looking after a tiny human is a huge responsibility after all! The good news is that you have 40 weeks to prepare before your child gets here. So, here’s a quick guide on how to prepare for fatherhood to be the best dad you can be!
How to Prepare For Fatherhood: 23 Tips To Be Ready
There’s truth in what Barack Obama said — “What makes a man is not the ability to make a child. It is the courage to raise one.”
You can never be fully prepared for fatherhood. Even men who have fathered and raised multiple kids can be caught off guard with a new baby since all kids are unique and come with their own unique quirks.
Here are some tips to help you prepare for your lifelong role as a dad.
#1. Read and Research
They say babies automatically bond with mom, but dads also play a significant role in this journey. Even if you are not carrying the baby, be an active participant in your partner’s pregnancy and birth experience.
Read books and go through online resources and videos to understand what your partner is going through. It will make the experience less scary and enable you to support your partner better.
#2. Get Healthy
The child’s mother will significantly rely on you for emotional and physical support while she recovers and as both of you adjust to being new parents. So, you need to be at your best when the baby arrives.
Change your diet if needed, start working out regularly, and get a health check-up to make sure you’re in good shape. You’ll need to be physically, mentally, and prepared for the sleepless nights and long days.
#3. Introspect On the Father You Want To Be
Not everyone has had a good relationship with their fathers. But if you are lucky to have a dad and look to him for inspiration, then you already have an idea of what kind of father you want to be. Remember that you are responsible for shaping the life of another human being. So, take some time to think about what kind of parent you want to be.
#4. Attend Antenatal and Parenting Classes
Antenatal and parenting classes can be informative, fun, and engaging. They will help you support your partner better and have more confidence in the upcoming days with your baby’s arrival.
#5. Work as a Team
Never think of yourself as the backup parent to your child. You are part of the primary parent duo, so you and your partner have equal responsibilities. Work as a team and discover what you do best when caring for your child and all the other chores that come with it.
#6. Share and Plan Your Responsibilities with Your Partner
Communicating with your partner can make a significant difference in ensuring that all responsibilities are taken care of. Be open to making suggestions but also be equally receptive to adopting changes in how you handle your responsibilities.
#7. Go To the Appointments Together
Attend all the important appointments together with your partner. This is an excellent way to get excited and bond over the arrival of your child. It’s also a good time to ask questions and be involved with how your baby develops.
#8. Deep Clean and Baby-Proof the House
Start making gradual changes to your home before your baby arrives. Your home should be a clean, safe, and conducive haven for your little one.
#9. Prepare a Nursery and Baby Furniture
Identify which part of your home will be the nursery and then slowly build and add the furniture you’ll use. It can be a simple baby room next to your room for starters, and then as your child grows, you can make changes as needed.
#10. Buy an Infant Car Seat
You need to be able to take your child home from the hospital with an infant-safe car seat. Educate yourself with the car seat guidelines of your state and invest in the right infant car seat. After purchasing, spend some time practicing how to use it.
#11. Buy a Month’s Worth of Baby-Care Essentials and Clothes
Once your baby arrives, you won’t want to make constant trips to the store. So, ensure you have more than a month’s supply of baby essentials. Purchasing in bulk is cheaper and can save you unnecessary trips of going out.
Invest in one or two sizes bigger clothes so your baby can use them longer — babies outgrow their clothes real fast!
#12. Decide Where the Baby Will Be Sleeping
This is an important discussion to have with your partner. Weigh the pros and cons of co-sleeping with your baby, setting the crib in your room, or having a dedicated nursery.
#13. Make a Plan at Work
Inform your company’s management about your partner’s pregnancy and your plans after she gives birth. Make arrangements as early as possible and secure the needed approvals for your paternal leave.
If you experience any challenges with your newborn that will entail missing work, give them a heads-up so that adjustments can be made.
#14. Figure Out Your Finances and Create a New Family Budget
Babies are expensive. Look closely at your monthly finances and start keeping track of all the possible expenses you have to cover during pregnancy and when your child is finally born.
Re-assess your priorities and discuss all financial resources and expenditures with your partner.
#15. Socialize With Fellow Dads
Find other fathers and be friends with them. Talking to someone who is currently experiencing or has experienced the same challenges of being a new parent can give you a better perspective on what to expect.
Ask questions, listen to other dads’ best practices and recommendations, and remind yourself that you’ll be okay.
#16. Interact With Babies
Any chance you get to engage with a baby, go for it. Learn tricks on how to make them smile and giggle! This will build your confidence when the time comes to look after your child.
#17. Lay Down the Rules with Potential Visitors
Your baby, your rules — well, you and your partner’s rules. Establish firm guidelines for when friends and family visit to coo over the baby.
Let visitors know if you want them to wear masks when visiting or not kiss the baby or not touch it at all. Explain your reasons why such guidelines are in place. More importantly, make sure that your partner is ready for visitors. She will want time and space to bond with your baby and just relax for a bit.
#18. Celebrate the Milestones and Document the Process
Celebrate learning the gender of your child by going shopping with your partner. Keep a journal on your experiences where you can express your feelings. Take plenty of pictures during your partner’s pregnancy and every step of the baby’s development. It’s the little things that often matter the most.
#19. Talk To the Baby and Grow With Your Baby
Talk, sing, coo, play peek-a-boo, and watch your child smile and giggle with glee. Not only will this strengthen your bond, but talking to your child also helps develop their brain, communication, and language skills.
#20. Spend Quality Family Time
As impossible as it may seem, try to have some alone time and quality time with your partner and other kids if you have any. A new baby can take up everyone’s time and attention, but some valuable time with the rest of the family can also provide some much-needed assurance and comfort.
#21. Get Enough Sleep
This may be pretty impossible for the first few weeks, but if you can, especially if family comes in to help care for the baby, take the time to sleep. This will also ensure that you will be well-rested to handle the baby and let your partner have a break and get some sleep.
#22. Practice Patience and Take up Calming Activities
A baby can test a parent’s patience and stamina. So when things aren’t going your way and you feel overwhelmed, try to calm yourself. You and your partner can agree on what to do when one of you is struggling. Sometimes, a quick walk outside can work wonders and renew your energy.
#23. Enjoy the Process and Keep Your Sense of Humor
Your baby will only be a baby once, so enjoy each moment. A baby has the power to bring out the best (or worst) in you and your partner. It is a messy phase, but it is also rewarding.
Accept the good and the bad moments and laugh when all your diaper changes are a fail. Your ability to find humor in times of struggle can carry you through all the challenges of being a new dad.
What Should First-Time Fathers Know?
1. Acknowledge That Your Love Life May Change
Your partner, being a new mom, will dote on your baby, and you may feel a little left out or need some TLC yourself. Don’t overthink this; your partner has enough love for you and your child. Just give everyone, including yourself, some time to adjust to the new dynamic.
2. Know That You Will Get Less Sleep
Sleep, or lack thereof, will be a significant change for first-time parents — but this, too, shall pass. You and your partner can take turns being on nighttime bab duties, so both of you can have your chance of having at least a few decent hours of sleep.
3. Know That You Are Important To Your Baby
Your child may not express it very well just yet, but having you along with the mom makes your baby feel safe and loved. You are a key figure in your little one’s life, and the role you play as the father is one that nobody else can fill. Embrace your new role with your entire heart.
4. Learn How To Hold A Baby
Babies are delicate yet strong little creatures, so don’t be afraid to hold your child. Take the opportunity to have your skin-to-skin contact directly after birth. Mommy has a magic touch when it comes to babies, but you too can develop your signature cuddle with your child, and your little one will know that it’s dad holding them.
5. Enjoy The Time You Get With Your Baby
Your baby won’t be a baby for long. Soon, they’ll be off to the first day of kindergarten and leaving home for college before you know it.
Savor all the experiences with your baby — from the first step, first solid food, and the very first “dada.”