Fatherhood can be scary, especially if you’ve never held a baby before. Perhaps you worry that the new responsibilities will be too much to handle.
Truth is, your baby is going to change your life… drastically. But that’s not exactly a bad thing.
Pro tip: Being an awesome dad all starts with embracing your new role.
As soon as you find out that your partner is pregnant, jump right in and try to figure out what you can do to be present in your baby’s life. Yes, you will struggle at the start. You’ll have to figure out how to soothe your baby or how change diapers efficiently. But as long as you keep on learning and being present, you’ll eventually find yourself being comfortable doing all the dad stuff.
From baby shopping to bonding with your baby, here are some tips that will help you overcome all your fatherhood fears.
- Attend the doctor appointments
Going to your wife’s doctor appointments is really important. Sure, it’s not as romantic as a candlelit dinner but it’s a great way to show your partner that you are supportive, dependable, and 100% present. Simply being in the doctor’s clinic makes you more of a participant and not just a spectator.
It’s also a good chance for you to demystify pregnancy and the whole birth process. Take every appointment as an opportunity to ask questions and figure out what is best for your baby. And also, ultrasounds are super cool! You just have to be there to appreciate it.
- Take care of your partner
Growing a human being inside one’s body is hard. Your partner is dealing with a ton of physical, emotional, and mental changes. She’d have to deal with heartburn, morning sickness, nausea, and on top of everything, weight gain. It is your job to be there for her every step of the way. You have to be supportive when she’s complaining. At any given moment, you should be ready to run to do a quick run to the drug store or grocery to buy her something that will give her comfort.
- Plan a vacation
If taking a leave from work is not really a concern and money is not an issue, it’s a good idea to plan a vacation with your partner before your baby is born. This gives you the opportunity to bond and enjoy before the baby takes up all your time and energy. You won’t have time or energy for anything like this later on, so it’s a good idea to do it while you still can. Even a simple trip to the beach can help you create happy memories during the pregnancy. Better yet, plan everything and surprise your partner. This is something she will surely enjoy and appreciate.
- Prepare your home
Is your home baby friendly? Will your partner find it easy to move around after giving birth? Have you created the right sleeping environment in your baby’s nursery?
It is important to make sure that you’ve prepared your home for the arrival of your little one. Think about where mommy and baby will be spending most time, and make sure to have your feeding and nursing station close by. Make sure to add in a relaxing couch and Netflix for mommy.
One other area you need to prepare is the kitchen. It’s very helpful to have a freezer full of food after your baby is born. This will make it easier to eat healthy and nutritious meals even if you are busy. You should also stockpile your kitchen with all the essentials because a weekly grocery trip is simply not possible when you have a baby around.
Baby gear shopping
- Plan your budget
Sure, you want to give your little one the best. But do you really have thousands of dollars to spare for baby “essentials” that you will only get to use for couple of years? You have to be mindful about spending. Creating a baby list that will help ensure that you put your dollars in the right place. Also, keep in mind the friends and family are likely going to give you gifts as well. If you’re really lucky, you might even get hand-me-downs!
- Prioritize safety
When choosing the right baby gear, it’s easy to focus on features and design instead of prioritizing safety. It’s important to check the safety standard of whatever you purchase, especially if you’re buying online. It is always best to choose a brand that has a trusted reputation. Check for brands that test their products to ensure that they meet safety standards. Also be mindful when buying second-hand cribs, strollers, or car seats from strangers because you never know if they have been damaged in the past.
- What do you really need?
Ultimately, it all boils down to needs versus wants. You have to know your priorities as parents to ensure that you spend your money on all the right stuff. If you want to save money, then you might have to sacrifice a bit of convenience. You can get by with minimal gear and baby accessories but you and your partner need to be on the same page.
Labor and delivery
- Pack your go bag
Since your baby might arrive earlier than expected, it is best to have your hospital bag packed and organized around the seventh or eighth month just in case. Prepare everything you need for your partner, your baby, and yourself as well. Keep them handy in your car or near your door, so you can easily just pick them up and bring them with you to the hospital.
- Discuss the birth plan
While the doctors and nurses know what to do, you also have a say in the entire process. So it’s important to discuss with your partner how you want the entire birthing process to go. Talk about pain management, epidural, who will cut the cord, and breastfeeding the baby as soon as possible. Your partner probably wouldn’t want to make important decisions in the middle of giving birth, so you have to be ready to make decisions for her. Discuss your birth plan with your ob-gyne as early as possible.
- Learn about postpartum depression
Postpartum depression is something very real. A lot of new moms experience “baby blues” in the form of anxiety, crying spells, insomnia, loss of motivation, weight gain, and more. Even dads experience postpartum depression too. It is important to know and understand what is postpartum depression and what you can do to prevent it. Try to find friends or even a support group that can help you through the tough days.
Caring for your baby at home
- Breastfeeding VS formula
Choosing between breastmilk and formula is one of the biggest decisions you will make as a new parent. While we all know that breastmilk is the healthier option, not all mothers find it easy to breastfeed their babies. It can take a toll on their physical, mental, and emotional health. It is important to do your research well so that you’ll be able to give your partner the helpt she needs during this time. Always remember that whatever is the decision of your partner, it is your biggest role to be supportive.
Co-sleeping is quite a controversial topic in parenting circles. Pediatricians warn that it can increases the risks of SIDS. Again, it is important to do your research well to find out what is the best option for your family. The most important thing is to understand your options and avoid safety pitfalls.
- Sleep training
Sleep training is not something that you have to do right away but it helps to read up and start early. Familiarize yourself with the different sleep training methods, so you can choose the best one for your baby. Generally speaking, it is best to start sleep training when your baby is somewhere between 4 and 6 months.
- Learn swaddling techniques
Swaddling is one of the easiest ways to keep your baby happy. It gives them the feeling of being embraced. It is best to practice swadling even before your baby is born. You can try watching videos online and practice doing the technique with a stuffed animal.
- Establish a routine
When you first bring home your baby, it’s going to be very chaotic in your home. For your own sanity, it’s a good idea to establish a routine that will make your life as new parents a whole lot easier. For example, you can establish a bathtime and bedtime routine to make your days smoother. Of course, it won’t always run like clockwork and it won’t be perfect at the beginning, but just keep on trying and stay committed. Eventually, you’ll find something that will work for your family.
- Read to your baby
Aside from helping build your child’s vocabulary and enhancing your child’s cognitive thinking, reading offers opportunities to strengthen your bond with your baby. It can help foster a strong and nurturing bond, even at such an early age. It also offers them an opportunity to understand feelings, behaviors, and relationships through the stories. So, in spite of your crazy schedule, try to build the habit of reading to your child every night. There are just so many benefits!
Work on your relationship
- Let your partner rest
Taking care of a new baby is unbelievably tiring… just ask any new parent! But can you imagine how much more difficult it is for the person who just gave birth? During the time when your partner is still healing, so it’s necessary for you to you to step up and do most of the work. Clean the house, prepare the family meals, and make sure she is sleeping enough.
- Make sure you have quality “me” time too
A walk around the neighborhood, an hour in the gym, playing on the computer. Whatever. With all your new responsibilities, it will be truly difficult to find time for yourself. But it’s important to schedule sometime to do what you want, without worrying about the baby. Just like your partner, you also need breaks to keep yourself sane. Make sure you find a way to squeeze this in.
- Find a good baby sitter
You and your partner need to go out on dates and spend time together. So it’s important to find a reliable baby sitter you can trust. This can be your parents, your in-laws, or someone you have to pay. The important thing is to establish a relationship so you won’t have a hard time finding a dependable sitter whenever you need one.
Ready to be a dad?
Let’s be 100% honest here and admit that no one is ever ready for fatherhood. But don’t worry, just keep on trying and keep on learning. Eventually, you’ll get the hang of everything and be the best dad ever.