Preparing for Fatherhood: The Ultimate Guide for Dads-to-Be
So you’re going to be a father! Congratulations, this is an incredibly exciting time. Whether you’re embarking on your parenthood journey with a partner or on your own, it’s normal to feel a little apprehensive and overwhelmed. We’ll let you in on a secret: so does everyone else. There is so much to learn as you enter this new phase of life, but just like the Dads-to-be that came before you, you’ll figure it all out one step at a time. In this article, we’ll walk you through a checklist of topics to address before the arrival or your little one, as well as our answers to some of the most common questions we get from those preparing for fatherhood.
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New Dads Checklist
With so much to learn and a long list of things to do before the arrival of your little one, it’s a good idea to start getting organized as soon as possible so you can map out everything you might need to complete before you bring your new baby home. Here are some of the key items you’ll want to address before your baby arrives:
- Baby proof your home. Baby-proofing the home can take some time, especially if you’re a first-time Dad. So, get thinking about this as early as possible. Make a list of all of the hazards you’ll need to address and divide up the work over a few weeks or months. Make sure you wrap up the process several weeks before baby’s due to arrive.
- Prepare your nursery. No matter the size of the space, you’ll spend a lot of special moments here with your baby. Take your time with the design so it feels peaceful and comfortable for both you and your little one.
- Buy an infant car seat and install it. This is the first thing you’ll need when you take baby home from the hospital. Install the seat and learn how to use it properly before your baby arrives so you’re not left scrambling.
- Make a birth or adoption plan. Whether your partner is giving birth, you have a surrogate, or you are meeting your adopted child for the first time, a plan is crucial. How will labor and/or the first few hours with your baby go? How can you prepare and make sure you have everything you need on hand so that you can focus on enjoying those first few moments.
- Stock up on the essentials. The last thing you’ll want to do once you’re settled at home is head out to the store because you’ve run out of supplies. So before baby arrives, stock up on diapers, wipes, diaper cream, swaddles, burp cloths and enough baby clothing to avoid having to do several loads of laundry a day.
- Split up responsibilities. It’s no secret that the first few months of parenthood are an adjustment, which can take a toll on any relationship. Communicate with your partner or support system about how you’ll share responsibilities before the baby arrives.
- Make or buy some frozen meals (thank us later). Prepping some delicious meals you can pop in the oven when you’re tired and busy will help!
- Enjoy time with your partner. If you’re welcoming your baby with a partner, take some time to enjoy each other’s company, reminisce about the past, talk about the future, go out with friends, or enjoy some quiet time together at home.
- Make a plan for visitors. Friends and family will want to come and meet your baby once they’re home. But, for some first-time Dads and Moms, visits can be a little overwhelming. So, set some ground rules about how you will handle visits in the first few months that you can both agree on.
Where can I find support and resources for new Dads?
If you’re a first-time Dad, one of the best places to find support and resources is other Dads. Reach out to friends or family members who have kids and ask them about their experiences. You can learn from their successes as well as their learnings. If you don’t know a lot of fathers, don’t worry, there are a lot of great groups you can connect with online or in your community.
How can new Dads-to-be support their partner during pregnancy?
The most important thing you can do for your partner while they are pregnant is listen! Your partner’s body is going through some pretty significant changes and those can feel scary and overwhelming from time to time. So, allow your partner to feel everything they need to feel. Just knowing you are there as a support can make all the difference in the world.
You may also want to start pitching in more than you normally do. Your partner won’t necessarily be up to all the same tasks they used to be, so be ready to dive into doing some extra chores around the house.
Finally, take the time to learn about pregnancy and labor. The more you know about what your partner’s body is going through, the more prepared you’ll be. The more you’ll know how to help, the more you’ll be able to help put your partner’s mind at ease. So, go to the prenatal classes, attend your partner’s doctor appointments, and get involved in learning about birth plans.
What should new Dads do during labor?
If this is your first time supporting your partner through labor, you might be a little nervous. It’s hard to know how to be helpful and supportive during an entirely new experience. The most important thing you can do for your partner during labor is to be present.
You’ll also want to make sure that you know where everything is in your hospital bag. It’s a good idea to take all of the items you brought out of the bag in order to keep them organized and easily accessible. This way you can grab whatever your partner needs at the drop of a hat.
Next, be sure to advocate for your partner at the hospital. They will be dealing with a lot, so it’s helpful if you can handle conversations and share key information with their doctors and nurses. It’s also important to clearly communicate your partner’s wishes and birth plan to the medical team so that everyone is on the same page. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions if you’re not sure what a specific term means or if you feel uncomfortable with the way a situation is being handled.
Take care of yourself too! You can’t pour from an empty cup and you’ll be no help to your partner if you’re dehydrated, sluggish, and overwhelmed. Make sure you snack to keep your energy up, drink enough water, and use whatever tools and strategies you can to stay calm and focused on helping your partner through labor.
It’s also important to remember that the work doesn’t stop when the labor is over. Although you might be exhausted, your partner will be too. What’s more, they have a long road of healing ahead of them. So pay attention to the recommendations your partner’s medical team make for both them and your baby. It’s a good idea to take notes to reference at home since you’ll be taking in a lot of important information at the hospital. You can also help your partner by fielding calls and sharing information with family and friends about your little one’s arrival. Finally, when it’s time to go home, do your best to make the experience as easy and comfortable as possible. Set out some cozy clothes, bring the car around, and help get the baby set up in their car seat.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is entirely normal for a first-time Dad to be scared. You’re not only starting a brand new phase of your life, but taking on new responsibilities for the health, safety, and well-being of your newborn. It’s like getting thrown into the deep end on your first day of work. You’ll have to figure out a lot of things on the fly, but rest assured, many fathers before you have figured out parenthood and you will too! Don’t beat yourself up for feeling nervous, overwhelmed, or scared. Instead, channel that energy into preparing for fatherhood.
There is no right or wrong way to tackle fatherhood. Every Dad brings something unique to the table. What’s more, every child is different, so what makes for great parenting with one might not be the right approach for another. Empathy, patience, and a willingness to learn along the way will set you up for successful relationships with your little ones.
There are so many great gifts you can give to a father-to-be on Father’s Day. Here are just a few ideas:
A book on fatherhood or a children’s book about fathers and babies for storytime.
A camera to capture all the special moments with baby.
A swaddle or receiving blanket is every new parents’ best friend. It typically helps little ones sleep more soundly in the first few months which is truly the best gift of all.
A new Dad survival pack. If you’re a parent yourself and you know which items helped the most while you were caring for your newborn, put them all together as a kit for a first-time Dad on Father’s Day.